Apr 13, 2023 - Politics

Upcoming Boston special elections are all about housing

Illustration of the Massachusetts State House with lines radiating from it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Voters in Boston want the state to do more to tackle the cost of living in the city, and they're making sure the candidates running for two open seats on Beacon Hill know where they stand.

Why it matters: Gov. Maura Healey is preparing a plan to tackle housing production and costs this year that will need the approval of lawmakers inundated with complaints from constituents.

Between the lines: Newly-elected lawmakers won't have much sway on the agenda, but they will be the latest examples of voters crying out for government intervention in the housing market.

What's happening: Bostonians in the South End, West Roxbury, Roslindale and surrounding neighborhoods go to the polls in less than three weeks to pick new state representatives to replace Ed Coppinger and John Santiago.

  • Each of the candidates told Axios housing and the cost of living are what they're hearing most about from voters.

The 9th Suffolk District runs from the Back Bay through the South End to Dorchester and Roxbury.

  • Candidate John Moran, a Biogen executive, told Axios he's heard from every part of the economic spectrum about prices and displacement.
  • The other candidate, Amparo “Chary” Ortiz, a BU School of Public Health administrator, didn't respond to Axios' requests for an interview, but has also campaigned on housing cost solutions.

The more suburban 10th Suffolk District straddles Brookline and stretches south to cover West Roxbury, Roslindale, Hyde Park and a portion of Jamaica Plain.

  • Candidate Robert Orthman, a former City Hall aide and current attorney for the state education department, wants the state to do more for MBTA riders and working parents seeking childcare.
  • Celia Segel has worked as an affordable housing advocate and now works to contain health care costs. She tells Axios she wants to continue that advocacy at the State House.
  • A third candidate, Bill MacGregor, wants to create better pathways to home ownership and also has experience working at City Hall.

What's next: Voters can apply for mail ballots through April 25 and polls open in person May 2.

Worth noting: No Republicans or third-party candidates are running, so the winning Democrats will go straight to Beacon Hill.


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