On Nov. 5, 2019, the Boston City Council elections were held for the four Boston City Council At-Large seats and the nine district seats. The results of this election have proved historic for the city; for the first time, the Council will be made up of a majority of women. In addition to the eight out of thirteen women on the Council, seven members of the Council will be people of color, making this Council the most diverse in history. The Council is also set to welcome its first Latina member. However, at this point, the city is not certain whether that member will be Julia Mejia of Dorchester, or Alejandra St. Guillen of West Roxbury.
10 votes separated Mejia and St. Guillen on election night, with Mejia coming in the lead by receiving 22,464 votes, and St. Guillen falling behind at 22,454 votes. After hearing how thin the margin of votes was, candidate Alejandra St. Guillen quickly released a statement calling for a recount. In the statement, St. Guillen said: “We are so proud of the campaign we ran, and in order to fight for a better Boston for all, every vote needs to be counted, and we are requesting a recount.”
Both candidates are progressive, first-time candidates who ran for one of the four Boston City Council At-Large seats. Three incumbents were re-elected to the Boston City Council At-Large, and it is the fourth seat, won by Mejia on election night, that is the contested position.
St. Guillen was allotted ten days after election day, or until Friday, Nov. 15, to collect and submit “50 certified signatures of registered voters in every ward she wants recounted,” according to WBZ NewsRadio.
WBZ NewsRadio also received a comment from Massachusetts’s Secretary of the Commonwealth, William Galvin, who claimed that although recounts are not uncommon, also said that it is “somewhat unusual . . . to have the entire city potentially being recounted.”
A recount of this scope, according to Galvin, will be a “significant task” for city election officials, who will most likely have to hand count the 66,000 ballots, in addition to the absentee ballots from overseas which have until Friday to arrive and be counted. In addition, election personnel will have to find a facility large enough to accommodate the process of the recount, and it is likely to take several days for the actual recount process to be completed once an adequate space has been found.
Both candidates and their teams spent the weekend of Nov. 9 collecting signatures for a recount from the city’s 22 wards.
The election of either candidate would mean the election of the first Latina to the Boston City Council. Both women have accomplished a great deal, and both have made a significant impact on their communities. According to her election website, Mejia “created and led a civic engagement group focused on voter registration, is the founder of a nonprofit education network, and worked on national social justice campaigns as a producer for MTV.” Alejandra St. Guillen served first as Director of ¿Oiste?, Latino Civic & Political Organization, and more recently, served as the Director for the City of Boston’s office for Immigrant Advancement. If elected, St. Guillen would also be the first openly LGBTQ+ woman elected to the Boston City Council.
The final results stating which candidate has won the seat could take weeks to obtain, and voters may not know the outcome of the recount until the end of November.