BOSTON — State Rep. Martin Walsh and City Councilor John Connolly emerged as the top vote getters in yesterday’s mayoral election, earning them spots in the November final that will determine a successor to Thomas Menino, the city’s longest-serving mayor.
Unofficial returns showed Walsh and Connolly leading a crowded field that included ten other candidates. With 96 percent of precincts reporting, Walsh had 19,808 votes, or 18 percent of the vote, while Connolly had 18,809, or 17 percent.
Menino, who first took office in 1993, announced earlier this year that he would not seek a sixth four-year term following a series of health problems and hospitalizations.
The winner of the November election will become only the city’s fourth mayor since 1968.
A Dorchester resident and son of Irish immigrants, Walsh, 46, has attracted strong labor backing for his campaign. He worked as a union laborer before being elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1997. He currently chairs the House Ethics Committee.
As a lawmaker, Walsh has remained active in union affairs and served as head of the Building and Construction Trades Council of the Metropolitan District, resigning the post before launching his mayoral bid.
Walsh survived cancer as a young child and overcame a bout with alcoholism as a young adult, mentioning both struggles in his signature TV ad during the preliminary election campaign.
Connolly, a 40-year-old father of three, has made education the central focus of his campaign. Among other things, he advocates extended learning time at every Boston public school and the development of a “principal pipeline” to make sure all schools have strong leaders.
The son of former Massachusetts Secretary of State Michael Connolly, he was first elected to the city council in 2007 and currently chairs the council’s education committee.
In what many at the time viewed as a politically bold — if not daring — act, Connolly declared his intention to run for mayor before the popular Menino announced he was retiring — the only candidate in yesterday’s field to do so.