For the first time, Boston voters will decide between two women for their next mayor, and the two women took to the stage Wednesday night for the election’s first face-to-face debate.
The two mayoral candidates, Annissa Essaibi George and Michelle Wu, the first two to win votes in the September preliminary contest, are Democrats and city councilors – moderator Jon Keller said at one point “I didn’t ‘hear no distinction between you two “.
The candidates stayed true to the stakes and stayed clear of personal attacks on Wednesday.
Wu has touted some of her big name endorsements, including from Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley and current Mayor Kim Janey. A new poll conducted by MassINC Polling Group for The Dorchester Reporter, the Boston Foundation and WBUR found Wu was leading the race by 30 points – 52% to just 22% for Essaibi George.
Wu drew more than 10,000 votes than Essaibi George in the preliminaries and topped the General Council ticket the last two times she ran, according to CBS Boston.
As an outsider, Essaibi George tried to be more aggressive in the debate, highlighting his work on homelessness and accusing Wu of being in favor of “rent control”. She touted her approvals by police unions and first responders, and accused Wu of supporting the “funding” of the police.
Wu fired back, saying she was the only candidate to come forward with a plan to handle the police union contracts.
Boston never had a mayor who wasn’t a white man, so the race will go down in history no matter who wins. Wu’s parents immigrated to the United States from Taiwan, and Essaibi George is the daughter of Tunisian and Polish immigrants.
If elected, Wu, a native of Chicago, would be the first mayor not born in Boston since 1925. Wu first moved to Boston to attend Harvard University and Harvard Law School, where she studied. under Senator Elizabeth Warren, then a law professor, according to CBS Boston.
Essaibi George grew up in Dorchester and taught in the Boston public school system. Her father immigrated to the United States from Tunisia in 1972. Her mother, of Polish origin, was born in a camp for internally displaced persons in Germany.