Campbell says Boston is primed for change
On race, mayoral candidate has lived the problem
FOR ANDREA CAMPBELL, action is what distinguishes her platform and ideas from Mayor Marty Walsh.
Campbell, a Black District 4 city councilor, announced her run for the city’s top office on September 24. The 38-year-old Mattapan resident believes that the country and city are “in a unique moment” where people are seeking more than just a dialogue about race and systemic inequities.
“People are of course emailing, marching in the streets, demanding real change. And I think Boston needs new leadership that not only understands what they’re talking about — but has lived it,” she said on this week’s Codcast. “I’m running for mayor to be that leader.”
Campbell’s life story parallels the story of many of her constituents. When she and her twin brother Andre were eight months old, their mother was killed in a car accident on her way to visit their father in prison. Campbell’s first eight years were spent bouncing between relatives and Boston foster homes, while her father served the remainder of his sentence.
“Frankly, his story would not be told if I didn’t [run for office], if I wasn’t blessed to have this platform,” she said. “So I asked one question when I originally ran for office, which is, how do two twins born and raised in this city have such different life outcomes.”
Campbell has been on the council since 2016, shortly after she delivered a stunning defeat of 32-year incumbent Charles Yancey in 2015 to win the District 4 seat representing Mattapan and parts of Dorchester. She was the first black woman to hold the position of city council president in 2018.
Campbell clashed with Walsh this summer over the city budget, which she voted against, saying his plan didn’t “resonate in every single neighborhood,” and go far enough to address racial inequities in the city. At-large councilor Michelle Wu, another candidate for mayor, also voted against passing the budget, which ultimately moved forward.
In the past few months, Campbell has zeroed in on criminal justice and policing, proposing a civilian review board to oversee accountability of police officers. And she has drawn attention to the fact that the black community is being disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.“People deem us to be successful in respect to our COVID-19 response. But the missing piece of the story is that communities of color are not doing as well,” she said.
For Campbell, challenging Walsh boils down to her ability to represent constituents facing many of the same problems she has faced and bringing a different background to discussions about race and racism. “I understand it. I’ve lived it,” she said. “And now I want to do something about it. And that’s a stark difference between the two of us.”