Campbell run in sync with racial reckoning

Councilor’s long-standing concerns are now national focus

IT IS PERHAPS fitting that Boston City Councilor Andrea Campbell announced her candidacy for mayor the morning after protests erupted across US cities, including Boston, over the news that none of the three officers involved in Breonna Taylor’s death were charged with her killing.

Campbell, 38, is cementing her campaign platform on a racial equity agenda, something police involved shootings, including Taylor’s, have thrust into the national spotlight.

“I’m running for mayor because every neighborhood deserves real change and a real chance,” said Campbell, who let her supporters, including a former Walsh administration member, lay out her history and desire to resolve racial imbalances in a kickoff video.

“For too long, Boston has been a tale of two cities. You have been fortunate enough to live in both parts,” says Beverly Williams, a retired Boston Public School teacher who taught Campbell in middle school. “And the struggles you had in one and the successes that you had in another makes a perfect combination to be the leader of our city.” 

One supporter, Antonia, called Campbell “Boston’s daughter,” part of a string of  testimonials in the video highlighting the councilor’s local roots.

Campbell’s announcement comes one week after fellow councilor Michelle Wu announced her candidacy for mayor. Both women have served as council president. Two-term Mayor Marty Walsh is expected to run, but hasn’t made it official. Campbell and Wu are both women of color, endeavoring to win a post that has only ever been filled by white men.

Campbell clashed recently with Walsh 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. Wu also voted against the budget.

In 2015, Campbell unseated long-time incumbent Charles Yancey with 61 percent of the vote. She represents the neighborhoods of Dorchester and Mattapan, as well as parts of Roslindale and Jamaica Plain as a District 4 councilor.

Campbell and her twin brother spent eight years in foster care and with relatives after losing their mother as infants. Their father was incarcerated during that period.

She began her first term by chairing and expanding the Council’s Committee on Public Safety to focus on re-entry services for returning citizens, solitary confinement, and the school-to-prison pipeline. Campbell’s own connection to criminal justice is personal — her twin brother Andre died while awaiting trial in the custody of the state Department of Correction in 2012.

Meet the Author

Sarah Betancourt

Reporter, CommonWealth

About Sarah Betancourt

Sarah Betancourt is a long-time Latina reporter in Massachusetts. Prior to joining Commonwealth, Sarah was a breaking news reporter for The Associated Press in Boston, and a correspondent with The Boston Globe and The Guardian. She has written about immigration, incarceration, and health policy for outlets like NBC, The Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, and the New York Law Journal. Sarah has reported stories such as a national look at teacher shortages, how databases are used by police departments to procure information on immigrants, and uncovered the spread of an infectious disease in children at a family detention center. She has covered the State House, local and national politics, crime and general assignment.

Sarah received a 2018 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for her role in the ProPublica/NPR story, “They Got Hurt at Work and Then They Got Deported,” which explored how Florida employers and insurance companies were getting out of paying workers compensation benefits by using a state law to ensure injured undocumented workers were arrested or deported. Sarah attended Emerson College for a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Communication, and Columbia University for a fellowship and Master’s degree with the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.

About Sarah Betancourt

Sarah Betancourt is a long-time Latina reporter in Massachusetts. Prior to joining Commonwealth, Sarah was a breaking news reporter for The Associated Press in Boston, and a correspondent with The Boston Globe and The Guardian. She has written about immigration, incarceration, and health policy for outlets like NBC, The Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, and the New York Law Journal. Sarah has reported stories such as a national look at teacher shortages, how databases are used by police departments to procure information on immigrants, and uncovered the spread of an infectious disease in children at a family detention center. She has covered the State House, local and national politics, crime and general assignment.

Sarah received a 2018 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for her role in the ProPublica/NPR story, “They Got Hurt at Work and Then They Got Deported,” which explored how Florida employers and insurance companies were getting out of paying workers compensation benefits by using a state law to ensure injured undocumented workers were arrested or deported. Sarah attended Emerson College for a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Communication, and Columbia University for a fellowship and Master’s degree with the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.

 In the past few months, Campbell has zeroed in her interest in criminal justice on policing, proposing a civilian review board during calls for accountability of police officers. Campbell is demanding data from the Boston Police Department about how and where officers stop, search, and record observations of residents, something that hasn’t been made public since 2017.

Hours after a Kentucky grand jury brought no charges against the Louisville police directly tied to Breonna Taylor’s death, Campbell tweeted, “I don’t want to hear ‘Boston is better than that.’ I want to hear that we will take immediate action to create true accountability and transparency in policing that CONFIRM we’re better than that.”