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Keller @ Large: Boston voters reject Ricardo Arroyo, Kendra Lara

Keller @ Large: Boston voters reject Ricardo Arroyo, Kendra Lara
Keller @ Large: Boston voters reject Ricardo Arroyo, Kendra Lara 02:36

BOSTON - Boston's City Council will soon have a whole new look.

Tuesday night, voters rejected two incumbent district councilors: Ricardo Arroyo, who had been plagued by old accusations of assault and entanglement in the scandal that brought down US Attorney Rachael Rollins, and Kendra Lara, whose recent car crash into a home led to revelations of other driving infractions.

At Wednesday's council meeting, there were tears from Lara and moments of reflection from Arroyo, the first incumbent district councilors to lose their seats since the district system began 40 years ago. But there was no doubt city voters were sending a message.

After running unopposed two years ago, Arroyo lost 38% of his 2019 vote total and finished way behind Enrique Pepen, who was endorsed by Mayor Michelle Wu. Lara lost 27% of the support that put her on the council two years ago, lagging way behind another Wu ally, Ben Weber.

"Voters in those districts, when they were presented with progressive alternatives to the incumbents, they chose to go the other way," said Gin Dumcius, managing editor of the Dorchester Reporter and a veteran analyst of city politics.

Arroyo and Lara were outspoken progressives who often clashed with other liberals, let alone members of the council's more-moderate minority like Councilor Erin Murphy.

"The voters are fed up, right?" said Murphy. "They want representation that respects this body and gets work done and is not just looking out for their own best interests."

It was a good night for the mayor, who asserted her political clout. And as the first vote under the city's new redistricting map, it showed the wisdom of Wu's decision to side with the moderates on a plan that was sharply criticized by Lara and Arroyo but still managed to elevate other progressives.

Outspoken liberals remain on the council. But two controversial voices will soon be gone. "The City Council could be in a much more harmonious place come January," said Dumcius.

In the heat of the moment during her concession speech, Councilor Lara said, "sometimes when you fight the system, the system fights back."

Perhaps that's true, but driving for years without a license doesn't quite fit the image of revolutionary fervor. Instead, think of Tuesday night's results as more akin to the notice on the back of your ticket to the ballgame - violators of the code of conduct are subject to ejection. 

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