By Adam Swift
With the rarity of an open mayor’s seat in 2023, Election Commissioner Paul Fahey is gearing up for a busy election season. With several City Councillors already announcing that they plan a run for mayor with Brian Arrigo not running for a third term, Fahey said there will be a trickle-down effect on the ballot. “Whenever there is a vacancy in the mayor’s office, I think it is going to create a competitive race, and that obviously has a trickle-down effect with city councillors either running or considering running for mayor, and then that opens up city council seats,” Fahey said. “We do expect it to be a pretty heavily contested election.” Councillors considering a run for mayor can pull papers for both positions, but can only return one and be on the ballot for one position, Fahey said. Also possibly in play this year is a change in the composition of the School Committee. The City Council approved a plan that would create a split of ward and at-large committee seats, as opposed to the all at-large system in place now. However, that change needs to be approved by the state legislature and governor. Fahey said if that change is approved by early May, it will be reflected in the 2023 municipal election. If the state does not approve the home rule petition in time, the School Committee election will proceed as it has in the past. While there has already been jockeying for position in the municipal races, nomination papers are not available from the election department until May 1. Candidates for mayor, at-large city council, and potentially at-large school committee would need to return 50 qualified signatures to the election department by August 1. The ward council and potential ward school committee members would need 50 signatures from their wards returned by August 1. There will be a preliminary election on Tuesday, Sept. 19 if necessary. A preliminary election is held if there are more than double the candidates for any position in a race. With the open race for mayor, Fahey said it is likely that there will be the minimum of three candidates necessary to trigger a preliminary election. The general municipal election is slated for Tuesday, Nov. 7. Fahey also noted that he will be presenting his requested Fiscal Year 2024 budget to the City Council soon, and that the budget will address some lighting, signage, and other accessibility issues that have been raised by councillors in the past about some city polling locations.