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Boston Voters Send Moderate, Progressive to November Showdown for Mayor

September 15, 2021 by Dan McCue
Michelle Wu (left) and Annissa Essaibi George (right)

BOSTON, Mass. — Michelle Wu, an Asian American progressive and Annissa Essaibi George, a moderate, appear to be the last candidates left standing after Tuesday’s preliminary mayoral election in Boston, and will now face each other in November when the city definitively chooses its next mayor.

Though the counting of the votes has been slow, both candidates, who are currently Boston City Councilors, have announced they finished in the top two in a field of seven.

As of Wednesday, unofficial results from the Boston Board of Elections have Wu finishing with 33.4% of the vote, and Essaibi George, with 22.5%.

The next closest finishers, acting Mayor Kim Janey and City Councilor Andrea Campbell, have already conceded they’ve lost. Janey garnered 19.4% of the vote, while Campbell received 19.7%, according to the board of elections.

The outcome means the city’s 91-year succession of Irish American and Italian American male mayors has ended, and that in November, for the first time ever, the winner will be a woman and a person of color.

“I’m overjoyed that we are confident we’ve made the top two and are moving on to the final election,” Wu, an at-large city councilor whose parents emigrated from Taiwan, told supporters at a post election gathering last night.

Wu went on to recall that her parents “came to this country not speaking English, nothing in their pockets.”

“They never could have imagined that one day their daughter would get to seek the office of mayor of Boston,” she said.

Essaibi George, who is also an at-large councilor, told her supporters she is looking forward to the contest ahead.

“Good governance is about being on the ground, listening [to] and learning from those of us in our communities across the city,” she said. “I’ve said it before: you will not find me on a soapbox. You will find me in your neighborhood, doing the work.”

Wu, a protege of Senator Elizabeth Warren, has garnered the support of Boston’s younger, progressive voters by championing initiatives like making the city’s public transportation free, restoring a form of rent control, and introducing the country’s first city-level Green New Deal.

Essaibi George has an older following and has been endorsed by a former police commissioner and the firefighters’ union.

“We need real change, and that doesn’t come with just ideas or an academic exercise, that comes with hard work,” she said at her victory celebration. “I don’t just talk, I work. I do. I dig in and get to it. It’s how my parents raised me. It’s how this city made me.”

She also took aim at WU, saying most of her goals are unrealistic and involve things that fall outside the city mayor’s authority.

“Let me be clear,” she explained. “The mayor of Boston cannot make the T free. The mayor of Boston cannot mandate rent control. These are issues the state must address.”

Throughout the primary campaign, Essaibi George courted the supporters of former Mayor Martin Walsh, who vacated his post to become President Biden’s Labor Secretary. Though Walsh himself did not endorse in the preliminary, Essaibi George escorted his mother to the polls.

Though the results of the race were still unofficial Wednesday morning, both candidates were out campaigning early, with Wu greeting commuters at a train station and Essaibi George greeting early morning customers at a local diner.

Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin said Wednesday the slow count was evidence of his determination — and that of Boston election officials — to ensure the integrity of Tuesday’s election.

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