Beacon Hill lawmakers to determine if city can scrap its Preliminary Election

July 22, 2009
By

By Seth Daniel
seth@reverejournal.com

Hold those ballots.

While the city pursues the ability to cancel the September preliminary election, those on Beacon Hill indicated that it isn’t a done deal just yet.

“Once all the signatures are certified and once that happens, we’ll be looking at these requests on a case-by-case basis to see if there would be any merit to canceling the preliminary,” said State Rep. Michael Moran (D-Allston-Brighton), chair of the Election Laws Committee.

Earlier this year, the City Council voted to send the state Legislature a petition calling for the elimination of the election in order to save the city some money.

Since then, a spirited councilor-at-large race has emerged and, if all those taking papers are certified on July 28, it will be enough to require a preliminary election. Right now, one ward race also requires a preliminary.

At the Election Department, they are proceeding as if there will be a preliminary, scheduling a drawing for ballot position in the preliminary on August 13.

Mayor Tom Ambrosino said preliminary elections are a waste of money.

“There’s no Constitutional requirement for a preliminary election,” he said. “It’s a creature of statute. I don’t even know why they don’t do away with preliminary elections. They’re a waste of money.”

Meanwhile, Moran said they are being very careful with Revere’s petition in his committee, as they are with numerous similar petitions before him from other cities and towns.

“There is no black or white in this situation; it’s a case-by-case basis,” said Rep. Moran. “If there are three at-large districts and there are three people running, then we probably shouldn’t have a preliminary. You can see how we could put ourselves in a precarious position if we take away people’s ability to have a voice. Not to sound corny, but this is what we’re all about here. This is the difference between us and any non-democracy on Earth. I don’t take this lightly, but I also understand the financial predicament of the municipalities now.”

Knowing a few specifics about Revere’s race, he said it was one of those that would require a hard look.

Meanwhile, challengers in the councillor-at-large race are hoping for the preliminary. Traditionally, preliminary elections are more helpful for challengers in gauging their performance, while incumbents tend to benefit from having no preliminary.

One of those beating the drum for a preliminary is challenger Ed O’Hara, a former city councillor many years ago who has put his hat back in the ring.

He said he might just challenge the constitutionality of any ruling that cancels the election.

“The people should have a voice at the polls,” he said. “Elections are a fundamental part of government.”

Challenger Al Terminiello Jr. said he felt that there would be no preliminary, even though he has been calling for it since February.

“I don’t personally feel there will be a preliminary,” he said. “They work around it somehow. Through conversations that I’ve had, I learned the City Council determined not to have a preliminary back in February. How could anyone who stands as part of the elected body hold back on a preliminary election? That’s one of the reasons for founding the country. This City Council has put a price on voting – on what the voters should and shouldn’t have.”

Moran said after July 28, they would begin looking at each petition individually and complete their hearings as soon as possible.

  • Voter

    Are these challengers going to take the $25,000 a year that the council job pays?

  • Voter

    Are these challengers going to take the $25,000 a year that the council job pays?

  • Beantown_Gianni

    Well, folks…

    Once we had a democracy, and people voted for their leaders – city, state and national officials to run the government and the country on behalf of the people. But after a while, some very successful and wealthy businessmen got to thinking that their businesses needed a greater say in the running of the nation. So corporations got the freedom of speech, which was intended by the founders to be a right of individual citizens. Persons. Not anonymous, protected from liability, isolated, groups of secret investors. Then, gradually, these corporations began, slowly at first, then with greater boldness, to influence the elections and decide which candidates would best protect, best serve, the interests of the corporations.

    At a small local city council, a barely noticed motion is presented to eliminate a very minor and unimportant ‘preliminary’ election to save money. Bare minimum of mention is made in the evening news. Saving money, reducing the tax burden, is on everyone’s mind these days. It’s only a small city election. Who thinks about the grand concepts of democracy and the government of the people anymore?

    But once an election is canceled, or even postponed for the purpose of cost saving, and because it simply isn’t very important…a precedent is estabished. And I say a very dangerous precedent, if you care about the future of our self-governing way of life.

  • Beantown_Gianni

    Well, folks…

    Once we had a democracy, and people voted for their leaders – city, state and national officials to run the government and the country on behalf of the people. But after a while, some very successful and wealthy businessmen got to thinking that their businesses needed a greater say in the running of the nation. So corporations got the freedom of speech, which was intended by the founders to be a right of individual citizens. Persons. Not anonymous, protected from liability, isolated, groups of secret investors. Then, gradually, these corporations began, slowly at first, then with greater boldness, to influence the elections and decide which candidates would best protect, best serve, the interests of the corporations.

    At a small local city council, a barely noticed motion is presented to eliminate a very minor and unimportant ‘preliminary’ election to save money. Bare minimum of mention is made in the evening news. Saving money, reducing the tax burden, is on everyone’s mind these days. It’s only a small city election. Who thinks about the grand concepts of democracy and the government of the people anymore?

    But once an election is canceled, or even postponed for the purpose of cost saving, and because it simply isn’t very important…a precedent is estabished. And I say a very dangerous precedent, if you care about the future of our self-governing way of life.

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