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Since the first race for Boston mayor was held in 1822, the city's mayoral victors have, amidst their individual, personal, and political differences, unfailingly shared two things in common: They have all been white and male. Today, though, that’s all about to change: After a preliminary runoff with an already diverse slate of candidates, the two left standing for today’s election are Annissa Essaibi George and Michelle Wu ’07, two women of color.
It’s taken us a long time to reach this landmark. While Acting Mayor Kim Janey made headlines in March 2021 by becoming the first person of color and the first woman to serve as the mayor of Boston, Janey assumed the position without an election after former mayor Marty Walsh was chosen to be President Joe Biden’s Secretary of Labor. Today, however, promises to be the first time ever that the voters of Boston will elect a woman of color.
It is quite jarring that Boston, in its entire 200-year history, has exclusively elected white men to hold the position of mayor. Boston is a majority-minority city, with a burgeoning immigrant population and a waning percentage of white constituents. As progressive as it might seem, Boston still has an incredibly long way to go in terms of electing politicians who represent its constituents.
Today’s election, then, marks an important first step towards achieving long-overdue strokes of victory for underrepresented groups. But to be clear, our enthusiasm is about much more than a simple game of identity politics: Gender is not in and of itself a qualifying factor. George and Wu began serving on the Boston City Council in 2015 and 2013, respectively, and Wu became the council president in 2016. Through their time in office, both women have demonstrated that they care about the City of Boston, and that they have the experience necessary to succeed in this role.
We’d also like to point out that, as an alumna of Harvard College, we believe that the trajectory of Michelle Wu’s involvement in the City of Boston is a model for College students seeking involvement in local politics. From earning a legal fellowship at Boston City Hall to running for Boston City Council, Wu has shown incredible investment in the city. Any Harvard undergraduate looking to get involved in local politics should seek to follow her lead of steady dedication, establishing trust within the communities they seek to serve.
At a broader level, we’re excited for what this election will mean when it comes to increasing representation of historically marginalized groups in both Boston and our democracy at large. Historically, women of color have been underrepresented on the gubernatorial and national levels. It is our hope that an increase in representation of women of color on the local level, especially in a city like Boston that is seen as symbolic of the founding of American democracy, will send rippling effects throughout our democracy at large.
To that end, we are eager-eyed and curious to see which contender will cross through the finish line in today’s long-awaited race. Perhaps it will be Wu, as polls have suggested thus far; or maybe Annissa Essaibi George will charge forward and take the city by surprise.
Either way, when she wins, Boston’s new mayor will represent a turn away from the city’s homogeneous past and will help move us towards a future that is powered by leaders who are not only experienced, but are poised to listen and respond to the increasingly diverse tapestry of people whom they represent.
This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board. It is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.
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