Michelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi: Historic Boston mayoral race

September 17, 2021

Michelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi

Two Democratic city counselors will face off in a historic race on November 2nd to become the next mayor of Boston. After Tuesday’s preliminary runoff, Michelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi George advance as the top candidates in a five-person contest.

Boston had only elected White men as mayor for the past two centuries, Wu and Essaibi are two women of color with immigrant roots, and one of them will make history in seven weeks. The top five candidates were people of color.

Michelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi top a historic race for Boston mayor after the polls were closed, Wu quickly emerged as the frontrunner, but the race for the second spot remained tight until early in the morning. Acting mayor Kim Janey and city councilor Andrea Campbell kept things close with Essaibi.

John Barros, who is Boston’s former economic development chief, is the only man to make it in the top 5.

With all the votes reported, Wu was able to obtain 33 percent of the tally. Essaibi rallied 22 percent of voters. Campbell with 20 percent managed to beat Mayor Janey at 19. Less than 300 votes separate the two women. Three percent of voters got behind Barros.

The race for Boston mayor has excited many for months because of the historic nature of the contestants and the fact it is part of a larger debate in the Democratic Party.

Two different wings of the Democratic Party, Michelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi

Wu represents the progressive wing of the party, while Essaibi is considered a centrist or moderate. The Democratic Party has veered left in recent years, but moderate candidates continue to win most of the important primary races around the country.

This is what now-President Joe Biden was able to do in 2020 when he bested his

proud socialist rival, Senator Bernie Sanders. For progressives, this is a prime opportunity to get some exposition for their vision of governance.

Wu was seen as the favorite for the job since she announced her candidacy in September 2020, but Essaibi has performed better than her initial odds. She had started the race behind Janey and Campbell for experts.

Wu and Essaibi have two different visions for Boston. For example, Essaibi believes that the city needs more police officers, and she has reached out to conservative media outlets in the area. Wu thinks that some of the budget allocated for policing would be better spent on social programs.

Essaibi is also against changes to the admission process to Boston’s elite exam schools. Despite the competing visions for Boston, the two women shared a hug on Tuesday, and some are hoping that the confrontation will not get too tense in the upcoming weeks.

Kim Janey loses after breaking the glass ceiling

The other candidates in the race were very gracious. Acting Mayor Janey praised the historic race and wished the two top candidates well. Essaibi returned the compliments and thanked Janey for being a trailblazer and shattering a glass ceiling by being the first Black person and the first woman to become mayor of Boston.

Janey became acting mayor after former Mayor Marty Walsh joined the Biden administration as labor secretary. In a city where neighborhood politics is key, Wu is the only candidate who was not born in Boston.

She is originally from Chicago.

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