The eight at-large candidates for Boston City Council spent the last moments of the campaign today sounding their rallying cry in a last-ditch effort to get noticed by voters.
Throughout the campaign, the hopefuls have been largely overshadowed by the first open mayoral race in two decades. Volunteers who would have normally pitched in to make calls, raise signs, and rally for their candidates busied themselves with the mayoral hopefuls, at-large Councilor John R. Connolly and state Representative Martin J. Walsh.
““We recognized very early on that the City Council race was not going to gain the type of attention that the mayor’s race was going to get, so we had be creative,’’ said Julia Frederick, campaign manager for Ayanna Pressley, who is running for a third term on the council. “The race for mayor has definitely sucked the oxygen’’ out of the campaign..
When polls close on Tuesday, voters will have picked four of the eight candidates running for the council—Pressley and fellow councilor Stephen J. Murphy; former council president Michael Flaherty; Boston teacher Annissa Essaibi-George; former neighborhood coordinator Jack Kelly III; and lawyers Michelle Wu, Jeffrey Michael Ross, and Martin Keogh.
Voters will also their say in two open council seats left vacant after Michael Ross and Rob Consalvo failed to secure final spots in the mayoral race.
Since the campaign began, the council candidates had been championing a slew of initiatives, including reducing crime, helping families in crisis, improving constituent services, and pushing school reform. But it has been tough to be heard.
“It’s been hard to get volunteers, especially in areas such as Dorchester, where they are coming out for [Walsh],’’ said Robyn Casper, who is a Flaherty campaign coordinator. “We totally understand, especially because of the mayor’s race. But it’s been a big challenge. We have said that we have not taken sides. No matter who you support in the mayor’s race, we are asking that you support us for at-large City Council. ‘’
But it’s been a challenge for Wu, a political newcomer who launched her campaign last December. The 28-year-old former aide to Elizabeth Warren wanted to give herself enough time to get to know the neighborhoods and in turn get residents to learn more about her. But she quickly realized there was too much ground to cover.
“The upside in all of this is that there have been a lot of events where voters have gathered to hear the mayoral candidates, so I found myself at many mayoral forums standing outside shaking hands,’’ Wu said.
In Dorchester, Essaibi-George’s campaign fired off e-mails to her backers in a final blitz to get them to urge 10 friends to support the candidate, a teacher and small-business woman.
“Unfortunately, a lot of voters are [only] now paying attention to the City Council race,’’ said Essaibi-George. “We’re hoping to capture those last-minute votes and capture their attention while they are paying attention.”
The other council races are:
District 1 : East Boston councilor Salvatore LaMattina, who supports a Suffolk Downs casino, is facing off anti-casino challenger Brian J. Gannon.
District 2: South Boston councilor Bill Linehan is in a rematch with former principal Suzanne Lee of Chinatown.
District 3: Dorchester councilor Frank Baker is running unchallenged.
District 4: Longtime Mattapan councilor Charles Yancey is running against community activist Terrance J. Williams.
District 5: Mattapan resident Jean-Claude Sanon, a Haitian native, is competing against Timothy McCarthy, an aide to Mayor Thomas M. Menino of Hyde Park.
District 6: West Roxbury councilman Matt O’Malley is being challenged by Roxbury resident Luis F. Valerio.
District 7: Incumbent Tito Jackson is facing off challengers Roy Owens and write-in candidate Jamarhl Crawford in the district, which includes Roxbury.
District 8: Michael Nichols and Josh Zakim are competing for Ross’s old seat in District 8, which includes Mission Hill.
District 9: Incumbent Mark Ciommo is running against Michael Bronner to represent Allston-Brighton.