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Boston mayoral election, 1983

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Title: Boston mayoral election, 1983  
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Subject: List of elections in Massachusetts, Boston mayoral election, 1963, Boston mayoral election, 1959, Boston mayoral election, 1955, Boston mayoral election, 1951
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Boston mayoral election, 1983

The Boston mayoral election of 1983 occurred on November 15, 1983 between City Councilman Raymond Flynn and former state representative Mel King. Flynn was elected to his first term.

The nonpartisan municipal preliminary election was held on October 7, 1983.

King's victory in the preliminary election made him the first African-American to be a finalist for mayor in city history.[1][2]


On March 5, 1983, former State Representative Mel King became the first candidate to officially enter the race. The focus of his campaign was decentralizing the city's government and bringing together its racially polarized population. His announcement came on the 213th anniversary of the death of Crispus Attucks during the Boston Massacre.[3]

On March 15, former Deputy Mayor and Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority general manager Bob Kiley became the second candidate to enter the race.[4]

On March 20, Mayor Kevin White told WCVB-TV's Frank Avruch that he planned on running for an unprecedented fifth term. However, soon after the announcement, aides to the Mayor retracted his statement, saying that it was "facetious" and "jocular".[5]

On April 19, City Councilman Frederick C. Langone declared his candidacy. Langone was accused of running as a publicity stunt, a charge the Councilman denied. To prove that his campaign was serious he announced that he would not seek another City Council term.[6]

On April 24, Suffolk County Sheriff Dennis J. Kearney declared his candidacy at Faneuil Hall. He promised that if elected he would create an office of internal affairs to investigate "fraud, waste and abuse".[7] He also promised to hire 99 new police officers each year for the next three years, a plan which would cost the city $3 million.[8]

Former School Board President and radio talk show host David Finnegan announced his candidacy on April 21 at the Strand Theatre in Uphams Corner. Finnegan chose to make his announcement in Uphams Corner because White had not fulfilled his promise to rebuild the neighborhood and the man he appointed to run the project was jail. He attempted to portray himself as the best candidate to defeat Mayor White and used the campaign slogan "Finnegan or him again."[9] After White announced that he was not running, Finnegan changed the slogan to "Begin Again with Finnegan".[10]

On April 26, Lawrence DiCara, David Finnegan, Ray Flynn, Dennis Kearney, Bob Kiley, Mel King, Frederick Langone, and Eloise Linger participated in the first mayoral debate.[11]

On April 27, City Councilman Ray Flynn announced his candidacy. As part of his announcement he released "The Flynn Program for Boston", a 30 page booklet outlining his proposals for jobs, housing, crime, services, and other issues.[12]

On May 6, LaRouche movement member Michael Gelber announced that he was entering the race.[13]

On May 26, Mayor White announced that he would not seek a fifth term.[14]

The first televised debate of the campaign was held on June 29. All nine candidates participated.[15]

The League of Women Voters of Boston and the Boston Chamber of Commerce hosted a debate between Kiley, Flynn, Langone, Kearney, Finnegan, and DiCara at Faneuil Hall. Gelber and Linger were excluded from the debate and King chose not to participate in protest of the decision to exclude two of the candidates.[16]

Shortly before the primary, Bob Kiley withdrew from the race and endoresed DiCara.[10]

Two weeks before the preliminary election, a poll by The Boston Globe showed that King was in a dead heat with Finnegan and Flynn. King's campaign gained momentum through a voter registration drive and visits from Chicago Mayor Harold Washington and Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young.[10]

Although he had the most campaign funds and was considered to be a favorite to make the runoff election, Finnegan was criticized for running a "safe" campaign and for "lack[ing] substance".[10]

On October 7, Flynn and King received the most votes in the preliminary election and moved on to the general election. Flynn went on to win the general election 65%-35%.


Candidates eliminated in primary


Candidates Primary Election[17] General Election[18]
Votes % Votes %
Raymond Flynn 48,118 28.86 128,578 65.07
Mel King 47,848 28.70 69,015 34.93
David Finnegan 41,657 24.99
Lawrence DiCara 15,148 9.09
Dennis J. Kearney 10,992 6.59
Frederick C. Langone 2,262 1.36
Bob Kiley 316 0.19
Michael Gelber 207 0.12
Eloise Linger 168 0.10

See also


  1. ^ "Boston Voters to choose between black and white candidate". United Press International. October 29, 1983. Retrieved 8 June 2011. 
  2. ^ "Boston elects Flynn mayor". The Associated Press. November 16, 1983. Retrieved 8 June 2011. 
  3. ^ Robinson, Walter V. (March 6, 1983). "Melvin King Announces His Candidacy for Mayor". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 8 June 2011. 
  4. ^ Robinson, Walter V. (March 15, 1983). "Robert Kiley Launches Campaign for Mayor". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 8 June 2011. 
  5. ^ Winship, Frederick M. (March 22, 1983). "Did Boston's Mayor Tell a Little 'White' Lie on Television?". United Press International. Retrieved 8 June 2011. 
  6. ^ Vennochi, Joan (April 20, 1983). "Langone Announces Entry Into Boston's Mayoral Race". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 8 June 2011. 
  7. ^ Quill, Ed (April 25, 1983). "Sheriff Kearney Announces Candidacy for Boston Mayor". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 8 June 2011. 
  8. ^ Quill, Ed (July 2, 1983). "Kearney's Plan for More Police Spurs Hub Campaign Debate". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 8 June 2011. 
  9. ^ Kenney, Charles (April 21, 1983). "Finnegan Tries Again For Boston Mayor's Seat". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 8 June 2011. 
  10. ^ a b c d Hirschorn, Michael W. (September 27, 1983). "Picture Clears in Boston Mayor's Race". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 8 June 2011. 
  11. ^ Kenney, Charles (April 26, 1983). "Eight Hub Mayoral Candidates Meet in Campaign's First Debate". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 8 June 2011. 
  12. ^ Kenney, Charles (April 27, 1983). "Raymond Flynn Announces Candidacy for Boston Mayor". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 8 June 2011. 
  13. ^ "Michael Gelber Enters Race for Boston Mayor". The Boston Globe. May 6, 1983. Retrieved 8 June 2011. 
  14. ^ "Boston mayor out of race". Associated Press. May 27, 1983. Retrieved 8 June 2011. 
  15. ^ Walter V. Robinson; Charles Kenney (June 30, 1983). "9 in Mayor's Race Talk About Issues on TV". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 8 June 2011. 
  16. ^ "The Boston mayoral debate". Associated Press. August 18, 1983. Retrieved 8 June 2011. 
  17. ^ Annual Report of the Election Department. 1984. p. 28. 
  18. ^ Annual Report of the Election Department. 1984. p. 82. 
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