Quick Refresher: Boston’s most diverse field of mayoral candidates narrows tonight with preliminary elections

By Jessica Stevens 
Boston University News Service

Boston voters are heading to the polls today to determine which two candidates for mayor from a field of eight will go on to the general election on Nov. 2.

Though eight candidates’ names will be on the ballot, five have attracted particular attention, including several current members of the Boston City Council and Acting Mayor Kim Janey, who is running for a full term. 

City Councilor Michelle Wu has emerged as the apparent frontrunner of the race, leading with 30% of likely voters in a recent poll conducted by Emerson College/7News. Wu has run her campaign as a progressive candidate, advocating for “real investments in education, food access, and good jobs,” according to her campaign website. She has served as an at-large City Council member since 2014. 

“To recover and meet the moment, Boston deserves bold leadership to deliver solutions to reimagine our city as a bastion of equity and resilience,” Wu wrote in a recent Boston Globe opinion piece. “Our future is bright if we take the right steps to shape it.”

Coming in second in the same Emerson poll, followed closely by two other candidates, is City Councilor Annissa Essaibi George, who has served as a council member since 2016. A Boston native and former Boston Public School Teacher at East Boston High School, Essaibi George’s campaign has placed heavy emphasis on public safety unions, Essaibi George is narrowing in on mental health, homelessness and improving public schools. 

Following Essaibi George is fellow councilor, Andrea Campbell, a District 4 City Council member since 2016 with a background in education law. Growing up in Roxbury and South End, Campbell made history as the first African American woman to serve as city council president in 2018. Part of her candidacy has centered on her efforts to aid generational inequity, poverty and trauma, with reallocation of police funds for social services being a main priority.

Also in running for second place, per the Emerson poll, is current acting mayor, Kim Janey. A fourth-generation Roxbury resident who first made history in politics in 2017, when she was sworn in as the first woman to represent District 7 on the Boston City Council, Janey became acting mayor in March, when former Mayor Marty Walsh was confirmed as U.S. secretary of labor for the Biden Administration. Janey is both the first Black person and the first woman to serve as mayor of Boston, and has made Boston’s COVID-19 recovery efforts a priority, focusing on vaccine distribution and preventative COVID-19 measures.   

Rounding out the top five candidates is John Barros, the first person to serve as Boston’s economic development chief, appointed by Walsh in 2014. Barros grew up in Roxbury and Dorchester, where he still lives with his four children. With a priority for public health, Barros said he hopes to improve neighborhoods and the lives of the poor. 

Per last week’s Emerson poll, Wu was leading with 30% of likely voters in the most recent and extensive poll conducted by Emerson College. Essaibi George, Campbell and Janey are vying for second with 18%, 17%, and 16%, respectively. The poll did not specify support for Barros, as well as the other candidates on the ballot: Richard Spagnuolo and Robert Cappucci.

South End State Representative Jon Santiago had also mounted a campaign, but dropped out of the race and recently endorsed Janey.

Following tonight’s results, the two candidates with the most votes will advance to the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 2.

According to the official Boston Election Department’s Twitter account, @BostonElections, at least 53,000 ballots had been cast as of 3:00 p.m.

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