Boston Woman Will Pahk Cah In Mayor's Garahge
Here's some nice time action for you: Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu ended Tuesday's preliminary mayor's race in the top spot; Wu's fellow council member Annissa Essaibi George declared a flawless second-place victory last night, with Kim Janey, who's served as acting mayor after Marty Walsh resigned to become Labor Secretary, conceding the election early Wednesday morning.
Wu or George will become the first woman elected mayor in Boston history.
As the New York Times reports, the 36-year-old Wu is "a striking departure for this city, whose politics have long turned on neighborhoods and ethnic rivalries." She's the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, born in Chicago and moved to Boston to attend Harvard. As city councilor, she's proposed “big structural change," such as free city-wide public transportation, restoring a form of rent control in answer to the housing crisis, and a city-level Green New Deal.
"Others have described [her ideas], at times, as 'pie in the sky' because they are bold, reaching for that brightest version of our future," she said. "So much of what we celebrate in Boston started as visions that might have seemed 'pie in the sky' initially, but were exactly what we needed and deserved. And people fought for them."
Progressive New Yorkers now look at Boston with puppy dog eyes.
Wu's former law professor, Senator Elizabeth Warren, is naturally on the Wu Train! She tweeted: "When I first met Michelle Wu, I knew there was something special about her. She fights from the heart with big, bold ideas and does the work needed to make a difference in people's lives."
When I first met Michelle Wu, I knew there was something special about her. She fights from the heart with big, bol… https://t.co/AYstgzsORH— Elizabeth Warren (@Elizabeth Warren)1631468217.0
Warren also once taught badass House Rep. Katie Porter. She's like the Morpheus of politics.
Essaibi George, a former Boston public school teacher whose parents are Polish and Tunisian, styled herself as the sensible moderate in the race and won endorsements from the former police commissioner and the firefighters' union. She declared last week in a debate that if elected, "you won't find me on a soapbox, you'll find me in the neighborhoods, doing the work." This is a popular moderate talking point against activism. Although, “doing the work" usually means talking to people and convincing them to support your policies, so that seems like a distinction without a difference. It's not like writing a script where you really need to shut up and face a blank page.
Reportedly, a consensus has emerged among national Democrats that Black and older voters would pull the party toward the mushy center. (It's a little more complex than that, considering Black moderates such as Rep. Jim Clyburn have confronted white moderates such as Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema on voting rights and the filibuster.) The two leading Black candidates in Boston's preliminary election — Acting Mayor Janey and City Councilor Andrea Campbell — both fell short after polling in a dead heat with Essaibi George. This disappointed some Black voters.
"Boston is a Northern city," John Hallett, 62, who had supported Ms. Janey, said in frustration. "They have had Black mayors in Atlanta, in Mississippi, and other places down South. I think this is just ridiculous. Really, I don't know. I don't know what it's going to take."
With respect to my elder brother, Boston is nothing like Atlanta, and to her credit, Janey didn't bend the knee to the cops. She believed Boston could balance public safety with accountability for cops who abuse their authority, and the police usually interpret that as saying you hate them and want them to die.
Essaibi George, who grew up in Dorchester, opposes cuts to the police budget and wants to put more officers on the streets. Law enforcement is the one area where moderates love writing blank checks like drunken socialists. There's no problem MORE COPS won't solve except for all of them.
The November election will likely draw lots of attention as a perceived ideological (and demographic) confrontation, but let's hope it's not as fractious as Ohio's 11th District special election became.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."