Boston Foundation's Testimony on an Act Relative to the Office of the Mayor in the City of Boston

January 27, 2021

RE: Docket #0155, An Act Relative to the Office of the Mayor in the City of Boston

Chair Edwards, Vice Chair Flaherty, and Members of the Committee (Councilors Arroyo, Baker, Mejia,
O’Malley and Wu):

On behalf of the Boston Foundation, I want to thank you and your colleagues for an expeditious examination and hearing on the election schedule for the Mayor of Boston. We were pleased to see so many residents, community leaders, and elected officials express their concerns about a safe and a fair election process in light of the anticipated resignation by Mayor Walsh.

While the Boston Foundation is a non-partisan organization that does not endorse candidates, we care deeply about citizen engagement and participation in representative government; for that reason, I write in support of the home rule petition An Act Relative to the Office of Mayor in the City of Boston.

The last twelve months have brought many trials and challenges our city and region with the global pandemic, economic crisis, and a long overdue racial reckoning. This time has been especially damaging to many citizens of color who experienced health and economic disparities. These disparities are rooted in decades of institutional racism, and among those disparities are participation and representation in city government and electoral politics. Studies have shown that special elections decrease the number of participants of color and favor establishment candidates and the interests of older, whiter voters.

In addition to issues of equity, we must also protect our citizens from further exposure to the COVID-19 virus we should avoid any unnecessary gathering such as another election. This election would also increase cost and instability for the city when we need our funds to support those in need during this time of crisis.

The Boston Foundation has always valued civic engagement, most recently in our commitment to more civic education in schools since 2018, which was recently showcased in a recent report with the Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University. The importance of citizen engagement is crucial when done in a safe and healthy way.

Boston needs stability, safety, and leadership right now. We ask that the Council put our city’s health and equity first and endorse this Home Rule Petition.

For any questions please do not hesitate to reach out to me at


Keith A. Mahoney
Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs