The Mayoral Race Paves the Way Towards Boston’s First Elected Female Mayor
The upcoming mayoral election is shaping up to be a must-watch deviation from Boston’s historically established voting pattern of a white, working-class, pro-union left man.
The resignation of former Mayor Martin J. Walsh after he accepted a Cabinet position as President Joe Biden’s secretary of labor left a gap in the mayoral race. The last time a sitting mayor was defeated was 72 years ago in 1949, when James Curley lost for the first time to John Hynes after vacating his Senate seat to allow a young John F. Kennedy to run.
With four women of color leading in the preliminary results of last month. Paul Parara, a popular political radio show host, reflected the thoughts of many Bostonians when he said “it’s time to elect someone who looks like what Boston looks like.”
Photo Courtesy: Boston Herald
Having won the preliminary elections with 33% of the vote, the frontrunner is 36 year old Michelle Wu. The Harvard Law school graduate was born in Chicago to Taiwanese immigrants and is best known for her tireless work as an influential member of Boston City Council.
Boston has garnered a reputation for voting along racial and district lines. However, Wu's strategy focuses not just on neighborhood loyalty, but rather overall policy. Her idealistic approach to grand planning has attracted strong support from youth organizers and a third of the votes with talk of free city-wide transportation, restoring rent control, and a city-level green new deal. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), whom Wu credits with inspiring her political career, is just one of many backing the left-leaning intellectual new-guard of Boston that’s eager for change.
The runner up to Michelle Wu, Annissa Essaibi George, presides over an older and more moderate pool of voters. Born in Dorchester to immigrant parents from Poland and Tunisia, Essaibi George has won the hearts of the super voters in districts like Winchester and Hingham that fit into the over 50 and white demographic. George is the only candidate to support an increase in the number of police officers on Boston streets and openly opposes cuts to the police budget. These policies have earned her heavy support from a former police commissioner and the firefighters union.
With the September 14 preliminary voting participation at a lowly 25%, some feel that the low turnout meant that the two candidates to move on to the next round were not necessarily the most indicative of popular preference.
One candidate to not advance was Acting Mayor Kim Janey. On March 24, Janey was sworn in as the Acting Mayor of Boston, the first woman and Black person to hold the office. The seismic shift comes after two hundred years of white males dominating the position. She focused her
Many are upset to see the third place position being tied between both of the only Black candidates, effectively splitting the black vote in half. With Kim Janey and Andrea Campbell both holding a little under 20%, voters have lost hope for the prospect of Boston electing its first Black mayor for this current election cycle
Janey took the reins amidst a difficult period and has been cautious in her new role. She called her incumbency a “double edged sword” as she struggles to gain support from Black voters and prove her preparedness to the overall electorate. Many of her voters originate from the Dorchester and Roxbury districts, whom she represented during her time in City Council.
Andrea Campbell, a city councilor whose career has been impressive since her election in 2016, proved to be a worthy adversary. One of Campbell’s main influences, the experience of her brother dying in pre-trial custody, touched the hearts of Americans nationwide and struck a chord among the factions working towards police reform and racial equality.
In her address to Boston University students, Massachusetts State Representative Liz Maranda (D-MA), a newly appointed woman of color in Congress, urged her audience to closely follow the election because regardless of which of candidate wins, she will be etching her name into the long history of the City of Boston.