Boston voters have chosen City Councilor Michelle Wu as the city’s mayor, making her the first woman and person of colour to hold the position in the city’s history.
Wu, whose parents moved to the United States from Taiwan, ended a 199-year record of white, male mayors in the city of Chicago. She relocated from Chicago to the city in order to attend Harvard University and Harvard Law School.
She beat Annissa Essaibi George, a fellow Democratic City Councilor who describes herself as a first-generation Arab-Polish American who was born and raised in the city, in the election.
The race between the two candidates constituted a watershed moment in the history of Boston politics, which has been defined by racial tensions and forced desegregation in recent years. It also reflected a city that is becoming more diverse, with Black, Latino, and Asian inhabitants now accounting for more than half of the population and white groups continuing to decline.
In the eyes of many, the race came down to two opposing views of the future, with Essaibi George’s version being seen as more traditional Boston and Wu’s version being viewed as more contemporary. Since her election to the city council in 2013, Wu has established herself as a favourite of the Democratic Party’s radical side. Her campaign focused on climate change policies in line with the Green New Deal, rent control and rent stabilisation, which were both narrowly defeated in the 1990s, eliminating fares on the metropolitan area’s public transportation system, and abolishing the Boston Planning and Development Agency, arguing that it is time to “empower a planning dept to create a master plan for updated zoning and clear, consistent rules.” She was beaten in the leadership contest.
The candidate from the city with the strongest family ties, Essaibi George, campaigned on a more moderate platform in the meanwhile. She expressed opposition to Wu’s rent control proposals and offered to restructure the city’s police force by increasing the number of officers who are representative of the city’s changing demographics and increasing funding.
Democrat Eric Adams, the Brooklyn Borough President, was elected on Tuesday, defeating Republican Curtis Sliwa, the creator of the Guardian Angels anti-crime patrollers, who was also elected. Adams will be the city’s second Black mayor.