CHICAGO: Annissa Essaibi George, the only Tunisian American to hold public office in the US as a member of Boston’s City Council, won enough votes Tuesday night to qualify for a run-off election for mayor on Nov. 2.
Boston has elected only men to the powerful city executive office since 1630, but this year saw a candidate surge of women of color and ethnic diversity in the special election. Former mayor, Marty Walsh, resigned last March after he was appointed to serve as US Secretary of Labor under US President Joe Biden, creating the Boston vacancy.
More than 65 percent of Boston’s population identifies as “people of color,” and the four leading candidates to succeed Walsh are women who are serving as members of the 11-member Boston City Council.
City Council President Kim Janey was named as the interim mayor in March and a special election was held Tuesday. Seven candidates filed including Janey, George, Michelle Wu, and Andrea Campbell, who are all members of the Boston City Council. Robert Cappucci, Jon Santiago, and Richard Spagnuolo were among the other mayoral candidates.
“Bostonians deserve results, real change, and real progress. I will be the teacher and the mother and the mayor to get it done,” George said Tuesday night.
During an appearance on the Ray Hanania Radio Show, sponsored by Arab News, George applauded the rise of women candidates in Boston’s political leadership.
“You want the women in office because that is important — representation in office,” said George, who has taught economics, business management, and health and human services to juniors and seniors at East Boston High School for the past two decades.
“But you want the right women in office. You want the women that have the skill-set and experience to lead and I believe that is me. I think the voters of Boston, the residents of Boston see that as well and that is why I have done so well in the polls.”
Wu, who took first place in the non-partisan primary election, thanked her supporters and said she is ready for the Nov. 2 run-off.
“Thank you, Boston,” Wu said on election night.
“Today, you turned out on the doors, on the phones, on the streets, and at the polls to make your voices heard. This is about delivering bold change, realizing just how much our challenges and dreams are intertwined. I could not be more grateful for your support.”
Unofficial vote totals released by the city’s election board showed Wu received 33.6 percent (35,888 votes) while George finished second at 22.48 percent (24,186 votes). Campbell secured 19.72 percent (21,221 votes) and was third after a total of 107,498 votes were cast.
George’s late father, Ezzedine, immigrated to the US from Tunisia in 1972 and her mother, Barbara, was born in a displaced persons’ camp in Germany of Polish parents. Her parents met while studying in Paris.
George told Arab News during an interview last week this election season marked a critical moment for Boston not just in terms of electing its first woman mayor, but also possibly electing its first Arab American mayor, too.
George was first elected as city councilor-at-large in November 2015. Like Wu, George ran as a citywide delegate-at-large to the Boston City Council giving them both stronger citywide voter recognition.