Primary Concern: Does a Preliminary Election Matter? Yes

Should it really matter whether or not the city conducts a primary for the at-large council seat in the upcoming election?

It is, after all, required by the city charter but the council is advocating against the primary because it would cost too much.

On its face, not having a primary to save some money isn’t such a bad idea, especially when everyone’s name will appear on the ballot in November and at that time voters can vote for whom they please.

Primaries are generally used to whittle down a very large number of potential hopefuls to a more manageable number as dictated by the voters. In such a scenario, the weaker candidates are cut and only the strongest remain for the election final.

This year, a primary would only eliminate one candidate who is seeking an at-large spot. So the feeling is that all 11 names will appear on the ballot anyway, so what would be lost?

What is lost is the notion that primaries are a sacred part of the political system protected by the city charter.

This is no longer the case if the city council can and does seek Beacon Hill approval to sidestep it from time to time.

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