Boston mayor slammed for ‘reckless’ plan to give children as young as 11 and migrants voting power

A Democrat city councilor is among the many voices condemning Boston’s Mayor Michelle Wu for her proposed process on voting powers.

City Councilor Ed Flynn ripped into Wu for her “tone-deaf” and “unserious” plan giving illegal migrants and children as young as 11 the power to vote on the city’s budget.

The Democrat expressed his “unequivocal and vehement opposition” to the plan in a letter to Renato Castelo, the director of the Office of Participatory Budgeting.

“During this time of great fiscal uncertainty — with a study warning that remote work policies and the city’s declining commercial property values may cost us $500 million in revenue annually, as well as a subsequent proposal to also tax commercial property at a higher rate — now more than ever, it is critical that we show the taxpayers of Boston that we take our financial responsibilities seriously,” Flynn wrote.

“Allowing children to decide the usage of taxpayer dollars would do just the opposite, and be viewed as tone-deaf, unserious, and wholly inappropriate by my constituents,” he added.

The city’s new voting process, which was approved by a ballot measure in 2021, goes into effect in July and will allow Bostonians to decide how to spend a portion of the city’s budget, the Boston Herald reported.

Wu announced the controversial aspect of the plan during a City Council committee hearing on Tuesday as the 2025 fiscal budget was being reviewed. The mayor made headlines last year when it was revealed that an invitation to an “Electeds of Color Holiday Party” was accidentally sent out to uninvited white councilmembers.

According to the Boston Herald:

The Wu administration, via the new office, will select the top 15 community priorities by the end of September, and residents will vote for five projects apiece in person and online next January. The five projects with the highest number of votes will be earmarked in the FY26 budget, city officials said during the hearing.

Mayor Michelle Wu has allocated $2 million for the current initial phase. The participatory budgeting office started this fiscal year with about $4 million, however, due to funds that rolled over from the past two budget cycles, some of which was spent on operational expenses including staff salaries, Chief Financial Officer Ashley Groffenberger said.

Flynn’s concerns were shared by Councilors Erin Murphy and John FitzGerald, while others “touted the greater civic engagement and deepened democracy that participatory budgeting aims to achieve,” the Boston Herald reported.

“I really do think this is a huge opportunity to develop civic engagement,” Democrat Councilor Liz Breadon said. “I do hope that it will lead to a more engaged citizenry going forward.”

But Flynn warned that allowing children to vote would be viewed as “out-of-touch and reckless.”

“Civic engagement for our youth is critically important, however, allowing children as young as 11 years old to decide the use of budget dollars sends the wrong message to neighbors who have faced years of increased property taxes,” Flynn wrote.

“Deciding and voting on the budget should be an informed decision, one that the residents of Boston have entrusted to their duly elected officials,” he added. “I believe that allowing children as young as 11 years old to vote on these matters will be viewed as out-of-touch and reckless.”

 

Frieda Powers

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