A touch of election fever reaches some Boston voters

By Jack Nicas
Globe Correspondent / November 3, 2009

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Election spirit seemed strong across the city yesterday, less than 24 hours before polls opened citywide for some of the closest races in recent memory. Nearly every potential voter interviewed had plans to vote and opinions to voice.

“This is a critical election for the city,’’ Jonathan Scott, president of a Boston nonprofit, said as he walked through Boston Common. “There’s been a real focus on the issues, and it’s given people an opportunity to really question everything.’’

After an unusually large turnout in the preliminary races, voters today will have their say on a hotly contested race between a 16-year incumbent, Mayor Thomas M. Menino, and his challenger, Councilor at Large Michael F. Flaherty Jr. Also, four at-large City Council seats are up for grabs.

Aida Rodriguez, 34, of Mattapan, said she would be voting for the first time because of encouragement from a new-mothers’ program she attends. But with hours to go, she was still undecided.

In the South End, barber Keith Gordon said he had heard plenty of election talk recently and expects a big turnout.

“People are going to vote,’’ he said. “There are big races in the City Council.’’

When asked about his choice, Gordon paused in an elevated barber’s chair.

“I’m voting Menino,’’ he said after a beat. “He’s done as good of a job as one can do.’’

But Paul Thorson, 80, of Dorchester, said he’s ready for a change.

“Sure, I’m voting for Flaherty,’’ he said. “This is an important election for Boston.’’

Though most were excited for the election, a few potential voters were indifferent or simply oblivious to today’s balloting.

“City elections really don’t interest me,’’ said Richard Lahart of the South End. “I’m aware there’s an election, but I probably would have passed the day without noticing.’’

Timothy Hicks, 61, of Dorchester, planned to ponder his options last night. “But when I get to those doors tomorrow, I’ll know exactly who I’m picking,’’ Hicks said in Dudley Square.