The 91-year succession of Irish-American and Italian-American mayors in the city has come to an end, with Michelle Wu winning one of two places in the November general election.
BOSTON - Michelle Wu , an Asian American progressive who launched a campaign around climate change and housing policy, won the one of the two places in the mayoral election on Tuesday, paving the way for change in a city that for almost 200 years has only elected white men.
On the front-runner, Ms. Wu, 36, marks a significant departure for this city, whose policy has long revolved around neighborhoods and ethnic rivalries.
Daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, she is not from Boston and has built a strong supporter as a city councilor by proposing radical structural changes, such as make the city's public transport free , restoration of some form of rent control , and introduction of the first Green New Deal at city level .
The vote count moved slowly until Wednesday morning and The Associated Press did not immediately announced who had finished second behind Ms. Wu. But another city councilor, Annissa Essaibi George, announced that she had won the auwin the November general election, and her two closest rivals told their supporters they lost.
Ms. Essaibi George, 47 , has positioned itself as a moderate, gaining endorsements from traditional power centers like the former police commissioner and the firefighters union.
In a debate Last week she promised voters that if they are elected, "you won't find me on a platform, you will find me in the neighborhoods, doing the job.
November Match .2 should test the consensus that emerged among many National Democrats after the primariesMunicipalities of New York : That moderate black voters and older voters will bring the Democratic Party back to its center, especially around the issue of public safety.
For weeks, polls showed two prominent black candidates - Acting Mayor Kim Janey and City Councilor Andrea Campbell - were at an impasse with Ms Essaibi George for second place. But turnout in the non-partisan preliminary election was low on Tuesday, and they seemed to fall sho rt.
The prospect of a general election without a black candidate has was a bitter disappointment for many in Boston, which seemed closer than ever to electing a black mayor.
"Boston is a city in the North " said John Hallett, 62, who had supported Ms Janey in frustration. “They had black mayors in Atlanta, Mississippi and dans other places in the south. I think it 's just ridiculous. I really do not know. I don't know what it's going to take. "
The winner of the election will take the lead of a changing city.
Once an industrial port for blue-collar workers, Boston has become a hub for biotechnology, education and medicine, attracting a flow of affluent newcomers and The cost of housing has skyrocketed, forcing many working families to settle for substandard housing or travel long distances. Image Annissa Essaibi George, city councilor. Credit ... Mr. Scott Brauer for Hfrance.fr
Ms. Wu, originally from Chicago who moved here to study at Harvard University and Law School of Harvard, talks about these newcomers and their anxieties, acknowledging that its flagship proposals "push the envelope." "
" Others have sometimes described them as 'the pie in the sky' because they are daring, reaching for this brightest version of our future, "she said." Much of what we celebrate in Boston started out as visions that might have seemed 'pie in the sky ' at first, but were exactly what we were doing. needed and deserved. And the people fought for them.
Throughout its history, she says, Boston has served as a laboratory for new ideas, like public education, and for movements like abolitionism, civil rightss and marriage equality.
"It 'sa city that knows how to fight for what is right," said Ms. Wu, who credits Elizabeth Warren, her law professor, for pinging her in politics.
But Boston's most loyal voters are found in predominantly white circumions , where many look askance at Ms. Wu's many policies and calls for police reform that followed George Floyd's murder in Minneapolis.
These voters stand are rallied around Mrs. Essaibi George, who grew up in Dorchester, daughter of Tunisian and Polish immigrants, and is the only candidate for oppose cuts in the police budget and choose increase in the number of agents on the streets of Boston .
At a victory celebration that began shortly before midnight, Mrs. Essaibi George, flanked by her teenage triplets, s ' is launched into a critique of Ms. Wu and her political platform.
"We need real change, and it's not coming only with ideas or academic exercise, it comes with hard work "she said. " I don't just talk, I work This is how my parents made me raised. This is how this city made me. in two of Ms. Wu's signature platforms, to cheers from the crowd. "Be clear, " she said. "The Mayor of Boston cannot release the T. The Mayor of Boston cannot impose rent controls. These are issues that the State must address itself.
Ms. Essaibi George supporters, who gathered on a street corner in Dorchester on the eve of the election, wearing the bright pink t-shirts of his campaign, were mostly white, and named public's safety as a major concern. Robert O 'Shea, 58, recalled "Dirty Water ", the 1965 pop ode to the polluted Charles River and its "lovers, abusers and thieves ".
"Well when that was written nobody wanted to be here," he said. "Look what it is now. I have so much As this city grows up, I can't afford the house I live in. "
Mr. O 'Shea said he was not hostile to Ms. Wu, or what he called "all that progressive stuff ". that scares me a bit, ”he said, noting that several of his relatives are Boston police officers.“But people need to be safe. People have to feel safe in their homes before they can save the world. "
One of the reasons Boston may be more receptive to progressive candidates is that it 'sa very young city , with about a third of its population between 20 and 37 years old.
His manufacturing jobs have mostly disappeared, giving way to affluent and better educated newcomers, "people who can read the Times but don't necessarily go to church said Larry DiCara, 72, a former Boston city councilor, in violent crime over the summer, something that likely shifted the votes in New York to Eric Adams, the Democratic candidate for mayor. .
Ms. Wu had no other choice but to build her political base around a set of policies because she could not bet on ethnic or neighborhood affinities, said Jonathan Cohn, chairman of the Democratic Ward 4 committee, who supported her.
"There is a real way I C politics 'is often done here, ' what church, what school, what neighborhood ', and it tries to move it into a political discussion, "he said. Image In the sense clockwise from top left: Michelle Wu, Andrea Campbell, Kim Janey and Annissa Essaibi George. Credit ... Mr. Scott Brauer for The New York Hours
When Ms. Wu entered city council in 2014, the body was largely concerned with constituent services, but over the following years it became a boring -form for policy at national level, on climate change and police reform. The policies Ms. Wu focused on, like free public transit and the Green New Deal, became her platform as mayor.
Some observers wonder if Ms. Wu's political platform will be enough to carry her through the November general election.
"People just want that the city works for them, they don't want good policies, "said Kay Gibbs, 81, who worked as a political assistant to Thomas Atkins, the city's first black city councilor, and Representative Barney Frank. Boston's next mayor, has shee declared, will have his hands full with the bases, taking control of powerful forces within a sprawling municipal government.
"The electorate is smarter than we think they are, and they have certain interests that don't extend to all of those dreamy ideas of free public transport and the Green New Deal, ”she said. "They will choose the person they think is the most capable.
Boston is growing rapidly, with its Asian populations growing rapidly and Hispanic. It has seen a decrease in the percentage of non-Hispanic white residents, who now make up less than 45% of the population. And the percentage of black residents is also declining, falling to 19% of the population from around 22% in 2010.
Ms. Janey, who was then president of the city council, became mayor by interim in March after Martin J. Walsh became the country's labor secretary, and many thought she would head to the general election. But she was cautious in her new role, sticking largely to the during public appearances, and damaged by criticism from rival Ms. Campbell, a Princeton-trained lawyer and vigorous activist.
During a campaign shutdown on Monday, Ms. Janey said the position was not necessarily an advantage.
" I would definitely say, if anything, this is a double-edged sword, "she said.
The elections municipal elections, especially preliminary elections, tend to attract a low turnout, whiter and older than thecity as a whole. It is only for a few years that the change began to reverberate in Massachusetts , which saw a series of upheavals for progressive women of color, Steve said Koczela, Chairman of MassInc Poll Group.
"This is the culmination of many new political forces," he said.