Local elections are underway, and Boston’s mayoral election continues to be one to watch. The first election cycle in over 200 years without a white man dominating the field, the top five candidates are all people of color, and four are women.
In March, acting Mayor Kim Janey became the first non-white man to lead the city since its inception. Janey and Councilor Andrea Campbell prove what many Black women have tried to explain for years. There can be more than one amazingly qualified Black woman in the room at a time.
Joined by Councilors Michelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi George, the four women remain at the top of the heap, with recent polls showing Wu and Janey in the lead. John Barros, the city’s former economic development chief, rounds out the candidate pool. He recently told WBUR that closing the racial wealth gap was a moral imperative for the city.
But Campell isn’t counting herself out. “I’ve been tackling the hard stuff for a really long time,” Campbell told Boston.com. Whether as the first Black woman to serve as City Council president or as the surviving twin who grew up in a world that provided little support for her brother, Campbell has a rich experience.
And when the police union attacked Campbell, her colleague competitors denounced the attack, with Wu giving a powerful rebuke, signaling change was coming.
Fundraising totals as of last Thursday show the four women about on par in their hauls, with Essabi George slightly ahead. But more money in the bank doesn’t automatically translate into votes at the polls.
According to a Boston Globe poll, housing, education, and racial justice were leading issues for voters. In April, WBUR found around 80% of residents polled view racism as an ongoing problem.
The candidates recognize that voting in a historic election doesn’t pay the bills or feed the babies. Beyond historic representation, the candidates seem to be bringing their best ideas in the final month.
They are also changing the face of electability, building on a regional shift that led to the elections of Rep. Ayanna Pressley in 2018 and Suffolk County District Attorney Rachel Rollins.
The primary election is September 14, giving voters plenty of time to pick a candidate. Voters have an opportunity to see the leadership of the future in the current moment, as well as thinking about who best to lead as the COVID 19 pandemic continues. And lead for the entire city, not only certain pockets.