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Two or Four Years? How Long Should Boston City Council Terms Be?

On Wednesday the Boston City Council overwhelmingly voted 12-1 to change councilor terms from two to four years. At-Large City Councilor Michelle Wu was the lone councilor to vote against the proposal that was proposed by District 3 City Councilor Frank Baker.

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The proposal is a home rule petition, meaning Mayor Marty Walsh would have to support the proposal and then it would have to be supported by the state legislature.

“My concern is that the measure would strengthen incumbency and make it harder for new candidates to put together a credible campaign,” wrote Wu on her Facebook page. “I remember how much pressure there was to fundraise as a new candidate in order to appear viable, and I believe giving incumbents a longer period of time to build up campaign accounts would raise the barriers for newcomers.”

Several councilors spoke in favor of it, suggesting that council elections line up with the mayoral election that is every four years.

Saving taxpayer money by eliminating low turnout elections, allowing councilors to focus more on legislative work and less on campaigning and strengthening the council as a counterbalance to the mayor were reasons councilors supported the proposal. It costs approximately $800,000 to hold a citywide primary or final election.

The council could call for a special election to replace a member who leaves if there is eight or more months left on his or her term, reported