Sep 5, 2023 - Politics

A chaotic Boston City Council faces the voters

Animated illustration of the Boston City Hall facade with a blue and yellow checkmark drawing over it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

This year's Boston City Council elections should have been placid like most normally are, with incumbents cruising to victory.

  • But the panel's recent reputation for chaos and a series of serious scandals have caught voters' attention ahead of next Tuesday's preliminary election day.

What's happening: Two councilors who wouldn't otherwise pique much interest beyond their districts have endured months of citywide scrutiny and bad press.

Why it matters: The attention on Arroyo and Lara adds to the spotlight already on the 2021-2023 City Council, which has become notorious for its discordance and ill will.

Catch up fast: This crop of councilors has gone to war with each other over Mayor Wu's agenda, how to redraw the city's political boundaries, the treatment of councilors of color in the chamber and even their colleagues' religious backgrounds.

What they're saying: "These days, the body is a clown show — beset by scandal, bitter infighting, wild allegations, and antics that would be laughable if they didn't mean so many in Boston are without the representation they deserve," Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham wrote in July.

Zoom in: Arroyo, who represents Hyde Park, Roslindale and Mattapan, faces challenges from Enrique José Pepén, Jean-Claude Sanon and Jose Ruiz.

  • Pepén won a major early victory in the race last month by securing Wu's endorsement over the embattled Arroyo.

Lara has two challengers for her Jamaica Plain, Roslindale and West Roxbury district: nonprofit IT director William King and workers' rights lawyer Ben Weber.

The other side: Lara has asked voters not to judge her entire two-year term on one incident of misjudgment.

  • Arroyo maintains his innocence on the sexual abuse allegations and said he wouldn't be running if he didn't think he was still the most qualified for the job.

What's next: The top two finishers in each race will go on to the Nov. 7 general election.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Boston.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Boston stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Boston.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more