Weekly Wonder: Boston mayoral race may give the city its first non-white male candidate

By Devyani Chhetri
BU News Service

BOSTON — After announcing their run for Mayor against the incumbent Marty Walsh, City Councilors Michelle Wu or Andrea Campbell could become Boston’s first female mayor since the inception of the city’s government in 1822. Their win would also make them the first mayor from a minority community in the city’s history. 

“For too long, Boston has been a tale of two cities. You have been fortunate enough to live in both parts. And the struggles that you had in one and the successes that you had in another makes a perfect combination to be the leader of our city,” Campbell said in the video declaring her run for mayor. 

Wu or Campbell’s win would also mean that the representation of women in mayoral offices across the state would increase. As of 2020, 13 of 47 mayors in Massachusetts were women, according to data from the Massachusetts Municipal Association. Two of them, Framingham Mayor Yvonne M. Spicer and Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui, are women of color. 

Spicer was the first mayor of Framingham, elected the day Framingham transitioned into becoming a city on Jan. 1, 2018. Meanwhile, Siddiqui, a Pakistani American progressive, is currently serving her first term in office after being elected in January 2020. Her 2016 predecessor, E. Denise Simmons, had served two mayoral terms and was the first openly lesbian African American mayor in the country. 

Currently, 27 of the largest cities in the US are led by women, according to data provided by the Center for American Women and Politics. Sharon Weston Broome, Mayor of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as well as Mayor Jenny Wilson of Salt Lake County, Utah and Mayor Kate Gallego of Phoenix, Arizona are incumbents who will be facing their challengers in mayoral elections on the same day as the general election. 

On a wider scale, by September 2019, 22% of mayors in 1,366 U.S. cities with populations of over 30,000 were women. The past year was also celebrated as a year of representation when four openly lesbian women catapulted into the Mayor’s office. 

One of the four, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, is the first black, openly lesbian woman mayor of a major city. Lightfoot, who won the majority of the votes during the elections, has been at odds with President Donald Trump since her election, exacerbated by the violence in the wake of George Floyd’s death. 

In the first Presidential debate, Trump, while targeting Democrat-run cities, pointed out Chicago and its history of gun violence. “The Democrats that run these cities don’t want to talk — like you — about law and order,” Trump said to Democratic candidate Joe Biden. “You can bring in a couple of examples, but if you look at what’s going on in Chicago where 53 people were shot and eight died– shot!” 

Lightfoot responded not too long after and tweeted, “Keep Chicago out of your lying mouth.”

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