BOSTON (AP) - A dozen candidates hoping to succeed the Boston's longest-serving mayor, Thomas Menino, awaited results Tuesday after voters went to the polls in the city's first wide-open mayoral race in two decades.
The top two vote-getters in the preliminary election will advance to the Nov. 5 final with a chance to become only Boston's fourth mayor since 1968.
Menino, who first took office in 1993, announced earlier this year that he would not seek a sixth four-year term, setting off a scramble to replace him. Menino has battled a series of health problems in recent years, including prostate surgery in June and a fractured leg in April. He was also hospitalized for about six weeks last year with a respiratory infection and was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
Voters were choosing between 11 men and one woman. The hopefuls included City Councilor Felix Arroyo; former school committee member John Barros; radio station owner Charles Clemons; Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley; City Councilor John Connolly; City Councilor Robert Consalvo; former state Rep. Charlotte Golar Richie; City Councilor Michael Ross; community organizer Bill Walczak; state Rep. Martin Walsh; former schoolteacher David Wyatt; and City Councilor Charles Yancey.
The election is nonpartisan, but all of the candidates except Wyatt are, like Menino, Democrats.
Turnout was modest for much of the day in the 150 polling places throughout the city.
As of 6 p.m., about 86,000 votes had been cast, representing 23.4 percent of the city's registered voters.
The turnout was running significantly ahead of the last preliminary election for mayor in 2009, when just over 60,000 people had voted as of 6 p.m. Menino was facing three challengers in that election.
It had been estimated that about one-third of the city's more than 365,000 registered voters would cast ballots on Tuesday.
Success for any of the candidates in such a crowded field could well hinge on the ability of their campaigns to identify likely supporters and make sure they get to the polls.
Among the challenges facing the next mayor will be choosing a new police commissioner to replace Edward Davis, who announced Monday he would be stepping down later this year after seven years in the post.