Boston���s History Making Election

By LISA KASHINSKY 

Presented by USA-IT

BOSTON MAKES HISTORY, SETS UP CLASSIC CLASH — City Councilors Michelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi George are poised to face off in the November general election, guaranteeing that the city’s next mayor will be a woman and a person of color after nearly 200 years of electing white men.

Wu and Essaibi George declared victory last night based on internal tallies, after some 7,000 mail and drop-box ballots that needed to be processed delayed nearly all of the city's results well past midnight.

Yet even as Boston voters ushered in historic change, they set up a classic progressive-versus-moderate clash in a general election that will test how liberal this liberal bastion really is.

"This is about a choice for our future,” Wu, a progressive who touts a Boston Green New Deal and the support of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, told supporters about 10 p.m. “This is a choice about whether City Hall tackles our biggest challenges with bold solutions or we nibble around the edges of the status quo."

Essaibi George responded some two hours later with: “Boldness is about getting it done. And instead of just advocating and participating in academic exercises and having lovely conversations, as mayor I will do these things.”

Essaibi George has eschewed being called a “moderate” or “centrist” candidate, rejecting those labels as “lazy” in her victory speech. But some u">>voters said they liked having a more moderate option in a progressive-leaning field, and Essaibi George walked a fine line last night between calling for change and casting several of the ideas of her progressive rival as too pie-in-the-sky to be achieved.

“The mayor of Boston cannot make the T free. The mayor of Boston cannot mandate rent control,” Essaibi George said in two direct jabs at Wu and her policies.

In elevating Wu and Essaibi George, voters denied Acting Mayor Kim Janey, who became the first Black woman and first person of color to lead the city after former Mayor Marty Walsh went to Washington, a shot at a full term.

They shut out all three Black candidates — Janey, City Councilor Andrea Campbell, and former city economic development chief John Barros — from the corner office, bringing to fruition the fears within Boston’s Black community that failing to coalesce behind a single candidate would cause them all to lose out.

State Rep. Chynah Tyler, the chair of the Legislature’s Black and Latino caucus who endorsed Campbell, vowed to hold the final two candidates "accountable" to the needs of Black Bostonians. State Rep. Nika Elugardo, a Black woman who backed Janey, told me she hopes “we’ll be galvanized” by the losses “and organized. We don’t really have any other meaningful choices.”

Campbell was more upbeat in her defeat, saying that “the real winner tonight was actually Black women” because “there is an appetite indeed in this city for change and I know my candidacy helped ignite it.”

As district councilors, Janey and Campbell simply couldn’t overpower the citywide voter networks Wu and Essaibi George spent years cultivating through at-large council races. Wu and Essaibi George were the top two vote-getters in the 2019 at-large council race.

And while Janey had the advantage of the bully pulpit, it became a double-edged sword over her five-plus months as acting mayor. That period was a tumultuous stint in which she lurched from one crisis to another — the unresolved police scandals she inherited from Walsh and the worsening public health crisis at Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard, among them. The coronavirus resurgence quickly overshadowed her early efforts to bolster housing security and opened her up to sustained criticism from rivals who hammered her as too slow to act on vaccine and mask mandates.

There will be comparisons to the late mayor Tom Menino, who leveraged his two months as acting mayor into 20 years at the city’s helm. Janey tried to emulate the Menino model. But she faced challenges that he didn’t, like a once-in-a-century pandemic. And she made several unforced errors — most notably comparing proof-of-vaccination requirements to slavery and birtherism — that left her on the defensive for the final weeks of her campaign while others capitalized on her perceived missteps.

Janey was the only candidate who was a no-show at their election-night event, sending out a concession statement through her campaign after supporters had disbanded from her parking-lot non-party in the South End.

GOOD WEDNESDAY MORNING, MASSACHUSETTS. Have a tip, story, suggestion, birthday, anniversary, new job, or any other nugget for the Playbook? Get in touch: [email protected]

TODAY — Wu greets residents outside the Forest Hills T stop at 7:30 a.m.

Essaibi George walks Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard with community stakeholders at 8:30 a.m.

Janey gives remarks at a ceremony commemorating the start of Hispanic Heritage Month at 7 p.m. at City Hall Plaza.

THE RACE FOR CITY HALL

– “In hard-fought race, Boston’s mayoral field is cut down to Wu and Essaibi George,” by Milton J. Valencia, Boston Globe: “The declarations of victory and defeat were made by the candidates themselves, and not city officials, as part of a bizarre preliminary election night in which election officials delayed posting any results hours after the polls closed. The officials said that they were still counting some 7,000 ballots that were received by mail or drop box by Tuesday’s 8 p.m. deadline, and that they planned to verify and u">>tally them throughout the night.”

– “Boston Acting Mayor Kim Janey Concedes Race, Loses Bid For Full Term,” by Todd Wallack and Lisa Creamer, WBUR: “Janey, 56, had hoped to follow the path of Thomas Menino, who used his position as acting mayor to establish himself as an incumbent and vault ahead of other potential rivals in the subsequent election. No incumbent mayor has lost in Boston since James Michael Curley in 1949 — and that was only after Curley served a federal prison term during his term. But Janey felt challenges, in part because the election was u">>already underway when she took office.”

– “On the march to history in the Boston mayoral race, Black residents pause, reflect,” by Meghan E. Irons and Zoe Greenberg, Boston Globe: “It was not supposed to end this way. But as Tuesday night came to a close, the harsh reality that many people in the Black community had hoped they would not face became crystal clear. There will be no Black candidate in the general election. … ‘It’s a shame. Boston should be ashamed of itself,’’ said Barbara Gibbs, 71, of Hyde Park. u">>‘I just think Boston is a racist city.’”

– “Boston voters seeking action on education, housing, Mass and Cass in historic race,” by Alexi Cohan, Boston Herald: “Chelsea Aaron, who went to vote with her 3-month-old son Jaxon in tow, also shared concerns about the area of Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard, where people struggling with homelessness and u">>drug addiction have congregated.”

– The Associated Press called Wu's victory sometime in the overnight hours, but as of 6:30 a.m. hadn't called the second spot. The ongoing count has also left the results of the city's council races in limbo.

ON THE STUMP

– THE VICTORY SPEECHES: Both Wu and Essaibi George paid tribute to their immigrant parents as they marked the historic nature of this year’s mayoral race.

“My parents came to this country, not speaking English, nothing in their pockets and they never could have imagined that one day their daughter would get to seek the office of Mayor of Boston,” Wu said. “For the next 49 days I’m going to give it all I’ve got.”

Essaibi George also cast ahead to the general, saying, “We will never stop working for the hard-working families of this great city. … As I’ve said before, you will not find me on a soapbox, you will find me in your neighborhoods, doing the work.”

– THE CONCESSION SPEECHES: Campbell had momentum going into Election Day as polls showed her gaining and locked in a close race for second place. Even after it proved not to be enough, she told supporters to “hold your heads up high.”

“It’s not the result we wanted. It’s not the result we expected. But we have something to be extremely proud of,” Campbell said. “I believe fiercely that we are victorious tonight, and I’ll tell you why: We kept this campaign about the issues that matter most to Bostonians, providing action and solutions that will make our city more affordable, safer, more equitable and just.”

– Janey’s campaign sent supporters home from her SoWa gathering around 11 p.m., and issued her concession statement about an hour later.

“While tonight hasn’t ended how we hoped, we have so much to be proud of. On the campaign side, we built a multi-racial, multicultural, and multi-generational coalition committed to making Boston a more just, more equitable place to live for every single resident. And at City Hall — as the first woman and first Black Mayor of Boston — we not only made history, but we made a difference,” Janey said, pledging a “smooth transition for the next Mayor so that SHE will be able to hit the ground running.”

– Barros, who gathered with supporters in Dorchester, tweeted, “This campaign was never about a job. We proposed a bold, transformational future for Boston with a seat at the table for all voices. This work will continue with all of you.”

THE LOCAL ELECTIONS ROUNDUP

– City Councilors Will Mbah

and

Katjana Ballantyne have advanced in Somerville’s preliminary mayoral election, meaning the city will elect its first Black mayor or its second female mayor in November. Ballantyne barely edged Dukakis and Patrick administration alum

Mary Cassesso , according to unofficial vote totals from the city. Both Mbah and Ballantyne claimed victory, but Cassesso didn’t concede last night as her campaign waited on final tallies.

William “Billy” Tauro finished fourth. Mayor

Joe Curtatone didn’t run again after 18 years in office, but he offered congratulations to the finalists and praised Cassesso, a first-time candidate, for a “well-run race.”

– Two incumbent mayors trailed their challengers: Framingham Mayor

Yvonne Spicer will face off against former selectman

Charlie Sisitsky in November. Sisitsky more than doubled Spicer’s vote total, according to unofficial tallies reported by u">>Framingham Source. In Gloucester, Mayor

Sefatia Romeo Theken finished behind

Gregory P. Verga , according to unofficial results reported by the u">>Boston Globe’s John Hilliard, who also rounded up the results from Newton, Salem and Lynn.

GBH News’ Meghan Smith and Hannah Reale have more from Salem, where Mayor

Kim Driscoll will face City Councilor

Steve Dibble , and Lynn, where City Council President

Darren Cyr and School Committee member

Jared Nicholson advanced in an open-seat race. In Medford, Mayor

Breanna Lungo-Koehn will face City Councilor

John Falco in November, per u">>Medford Patch.

– “Brockton Mayor Robert Sullivan wins preliminary election in landslide, Cardoso advances,” by Susannah Sudborough, Brockton Enterprise: “Incumbent Mayor Robert Sullivan came out on top in a landslide victory in Tuesday's preliminary election, garnering more than three times as many votes as his nearest competitor. He and Councilor-at-large Tina Cardoso, who came in second, will now go head to head in the November election. Sullivan received 4,236 votes, or 71 percent of the vote, while Cardoso came in second u">>with 1,330 votes, or 22 percent.”

THE LATEST NUMBERS

– “Massachusetts reports 1,453 new coronavirus cases, highest daily death count in several months,” by Rick Sobey, Boston Herald: “Massachusetts health officials on Tuesday reported 1,453 new coronavirus cases and 24 new COVID deaths, which was the highest single-day death count since early April. Total COVID hospitalizations also eclipsed 700 patients u">>for the first time since mid April.”

– “Massachusetts coronavirus breakthrough cases rise 3,919 last week, down from the previous week,” by Rick Sobey, Boston Herald: “Nearly 4,000 fully vaccinated people in Massachusetts tested positive for the coronavirus last week, a daily average of more than 550 people as the rate of breakthrough infections could finally be slowing u">>amid the delta variant.”

DATELINE BEACON HILL

– “Baker Plans Another Run At Health Care Reforms,” by Katie Lannan, State House News Service (paywall): “Gov. Charlie Baker is eyeing another go at health care reform legislation, two years after he filed a bill that sought to focus on primary and behavioral health care and u">>boost spending in those areas.”

– “As sentencing approaches, 2 sides of Nangle emerge,” by Shira Schoenberg, CommonWealth Magazine: “Is former state Rep. David Nangle a corrupt politician and expert at the legislative quid pro quo, or is he a compassionate, caring man felled by an addiction to gambling? Sentencing memos written by prosecutors and defense attorneys paint starkly different portraits of the Lowell Democrat, who is expected to be sentenced on u">>Wednesday by US District Court Judge Rya Zobel.”

– “Advocates renew plans to expand bottle bill,” by Christian M. Wade, CNHI/Eagle-Tribune: “Several years after failing at the ballot box, a proposal to update the state’s 5-cent “bottle bill” has resurfaced on Beacon Hill, where environmental and consumer advocates are pushing again to expand the decades-old law. A new proposal heard by the Legislature’s Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy on Monday would increase the deposit on cans and bottles from 5 to 10 cents and include other plastic and glass containers for wine, hard cider, water and sports drinks, as well as u">>miniature liquor bottles called ‘nips.’”

– “Bon Voyage, Boncore…but Who Will Fill the Gap on Transportation Panel?” by Matt Szafranski, Western Mass Politics & Insight: “With money flowing in from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and a pending federal infrastructure bill, the next Senate chair could play a key role in u">>how Massachusetts digests both.”

– “Massachusetts poverty rate approaches 10% as housing, medical costs explode, according to Census data,” by Erin Tiernan, Boston Herald: “Nearly 10% of Massachusetts residents are poor — more than previously thought — according to a new U.S. Census Bureau report that factors in the costs of housing, u">>commuting and medical care.”

VAX-ACHUSETTS

– “Increase in COVID hospitalizations leads to strain on resources, greater wait times at Worcester’s UMass Memorial Medical Center,” by Melissa Hanson, MassLive.com: “An influx in COVID-19 patients over the last few days, in addition to an extremely high non-COVID patient volume, is putting ‘an enormous strain’ on resources at u">>UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, officials said.”

FROM THE HUB

– “Suffolk DA, state officials continue probe into BU professor’s death on stairway at JFK/UMass MBTA station,” by Travis Andersen, John R. Ellement and Elizabeth Koh, Boston Globe: “State authorities remained mum Tuesday about who was responsible for maintaining a ramshackle, rusted stairwell in Dorchester through which a Boston University associate professor fell to his death three days earlier. Records suggest the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation, which oversees roads and a park next to the MBTA’s JFK/UMass station, had some responsibility u">>for the dilapidated, closed-off structure.”

BALLOT BATTLES

– “Western Massachusetts labor coalition seeks support for frontline workers, focuses on 2022 ballot question,” by Danny Jin, Berkshire Eagle: “As the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the importance of safe working conditions, and with two consequential ballot questions likely coming in 2022, Western Massachusetts labor leaders u">>see the year ahead as a crucial one.”

DAY IN COURT

– “Federal lawsuit on Springfield courthouse withdrawn; suit combined with state court case,” by Patrick Johnson, MassLive.com: “A federal class action lawsuit over possibly hazardous conditions at the Roderick L. Ireland Courthouse in Springfield was voluntarily withdrawn Tuesday afternoon as parties agreed to merge the federal complaint u">>with a similar lawsuit at the state level.”

– “Calif. businessman grilled about mastermind of ‘Varsity Blues’ college admissions scheme,” by Shelley Murphy, Boston Globe: “In the second day of testimony in the trial of two parents charged in the nationwide college admissions scandal, jurors heard from a California businessman who admitted he paid $600,000 to the architect of the sprawling conspiracy to get his two daughters into elite schools u">>through bribery and cheating.”

MARIJUANA IN MASSACHUSETTS

– “Here’s who’s got the best cannabis in Mass., per the new Cultivator’s Cup,” by Julia Taliesin, Boston.com: “Bountiful Farms in Natick and Theory Wellness in Stoneham were chosen by over 200 consumers and volunteer judges in the first ever Cultivator’s Cup, hosted by Somerset’s Solar Therapeutics and u">>California cannabis event business theFarmacist.”

THE LOCAL ANGLE

– “Fallen Lawrence Marine awarded Purple Heart, laid to rest,” by Jill Harmacinski, Eagle-Tribune: “Some walked into Veterans Memorial Stadium. A group of Marines in dress blues arrived by bus after flying from the Middle East. and hundreds rolled into the city on motorcycles, later lining the Central Bridge and Manchester Street. Thousands paid their final respects Tuesday to Marine Sgt. Johanny Rosario, 25, of Lawrence, who was killed by suicide bombers in u">>Kabul, Afghanistan, on Aug. 26.”

TRANSITIONS – Jennifer Honig joins the Massachusetts Association for Mental Health as co-director of public policy and government relations.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY – to

Anthony Barsamian , co-chair of the Armenian Assembly of America; and

Diane Levin. Happy belated to

Roger Lau.

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