By Zoe Allen, Luwa Yin and Toni Baraga
Boston University News Service
BOSTON — Residents trickled into voting stations around Jamaica Plain early Tuesday morning to cast their ballots in Boston’s mayoral and City Council elections.
Among voters at both Mary E. Curley School and John F. Kennedy Elementary, common issues included affordable housing and public school improvement.
One voter was Zach Morin, a 30-year-old who voted for Annissa Essaibi George for mayor and Kendra Hicks for the District 6 City Council seat.
“I’m a young professional that has to work two jobs and still can’t afford my own place in the city,” Morin said.
In addition to the mayoral race between Michelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi George, much of the local election buzz has focused on the District 6 City Council seat election between Mary Tamer of West Roxbury, and Kendra Hicks of Jamaica Plain. District 6 itself includes the Jamaica Plain and West Roxbury neighborhoods, as well as parts of Roxbury and Roslindale, including Back of the Hill.
Tamer, a former Boston School Committee member, seeks to prioritize issues such as COVID-19 recovery, including increased testing and vaccination access, according to her campaign website. Tamer’s campaign website spells out her specific agenda to address issues like climate change, child care, senior tax relief and support of small businesses.
According to The Boston Globe, Tamer came in second during October’s District 6 preliminaries, with 43.4% of the vote. Hick’s took first with 50.2%.
Hicks’ campaign website lists affordable housing, equitable public education and climate change, including environmental racism as her key issues. Additionally, Hicks seeks to address issues such as over-policing and fair wages.
Hicks stopped by John F. Kennedy Elementary mid-morning to speak with voters. She said that she feels proud of the race her, her staff and her community have run and that she’s “left it all on the field.”
“I’ve definitely noticed lots of excitement. I think that outside of my race, it’s a really big, big day for Boston and people are excited to go vote today,” Hicks said.
Michelle Juralewicz, 39, said she voted for Hicks because she finds her progressive ideals “very authentic.”
“I think she’s somebody who has really lived the life of an actual Bostonian, not the idea of a Bostonian. She understands about rent control; I have so many friends who have to leave the city because they can’t afford to live here anymore,” said Juralewicz.
Juralewicz said that she also voted for Wu because she believes both herself and Hicks represent “a lot of the parents of Boston Public School students.”
Kelsey Souza, 33, a member of law enforcement and canvasser for Essaibi George, also expressed concern for the Boston Public School district.
“I would love to see the Boston Public Schools be cleaned up a lot. My sister was a Boston Public School teacher and she’s had a tough time being there because it’s a hard job,” said Souza, who voted for Erin Murphy for city councilor at large.
For Souza, a Boston native, Essaibi George represents a candidate who grew up in the area and knows the city. “What makes Boston unique is that we keep the roots grounded. We’re a close-knit community and you want someone who’s from here.”
Meredith Sandiford, 36, said she voted for Wu because she believes that she’s the right person to serve the city. She also said that, unlike Souza, she felt isolated by Essaibi George’s comments about Wu’s connection with Boston.
“I did not grow up in Boston and I have consistently been bothered by Essaibi George’s comments about the fact that Michelle Wu did not grow up in Boston and how that makes her not able to make decisions about the city,” said Sandiford. “She’s raising her children here just like me and I think that my opinion matters and if [Essaibi George] only cares about the people that were born here then that means she doesn’t care about me as a constituent.”