BOSTON — For the first time in the city’s history, both candidates vying for the spot as Boston’s mayor are women of color, a stark change from the unbroken string of white men elected mayor in the city’s first 200 years.
With 100% of precincts reporting Wednesday morning, voters selected Boston City Councilors Michelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi George to face off against each other on November 2. They bested acting Mayor Kim Janey, City Councilor Andrea Campbell and John Barros, the city’s former economic development chief.
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Earlier this year, Janey became the first Black Bostonian and first woman to occupy the city’s top office in an acting capacity after former Mayor Marty Walsh stepped down to become President Joe Biden’s labor secretary.
“I want to congratulate Michelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi George on their victories this evening,” Janey said in a statement. “This was a spirited and historic race, and I wish them both luck in the final election.”
Both candidates hail from different backgrounds; Wu’s parents immigrated to the United States from Taiwan and Essaibi George describes herself as a first-generation Arab-Polish American.
Wu was elected to the Boston City Council in 2013 at age 28, becoming the first Asian-American woman to serve on the council. In 2016, she was elected city council president by her colleagues in a unanimous vote, becoming the first woman of color to serve as president.
Essaibi George won a series of key endorsements during the race including from unions representing firefighters, nurses and emergency medical technicians. She also won the backing of former Boston Police Commissioner William Gross.
Essaibi George grew up in the city’s Dorchester neighborhood and taught in the Boston Public Schools. She was elected to the city council in 2015. Her father immigrated to the United States from Tunisia in 1972. Her mother was born in a displaced persons’ camp in Germany of Polish parents.
The November contest could also be a test of whether voters in a city long dominated by parochial neighborhood and ethnic politics are ready to tap someone like Wu, who grew up in Chicago.
Wu moved to Boston to attend Harvard University and Harvard Law School and studied under U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, then a law professor. She’s the only candidate not born in Boston.
Among the challenges facing the city are those brought on by gentrification, which has forced out many long-term residents, including those in historically Black neighborhoods.
Added to that are a host of other challenges that will face the new mayor, from transportation woes, racial injustice and policing to schools and the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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