A mayoral miss for Black Boston

BOSTON’S NEXT MAYOR will break twin barriers by being the first woman and first person of color to lead the city. But the storyline of big change comes tinged with one where Black residents again are shut out and won’t see a mayor emerge from their community. 

The three Black candidates in Tuesday’s preliminary election, Acting Mayor Kim Janey, City Councilor Andrea Campbell, and former city economic development chief John Barros, finished out of the running as city councilors Michelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi George advanced to the November final. 

Now comes the hand-wringing — and finger-pointing — over what went wrong and what might have been. 

Armani White, a community organizer with the group Right to the City, which backed Janey, expressed bitterness at the result. “I think it suggests that the city is not ready to see a Black person lead it,” he told GBH’s Adam Reilly. “What I’m seeing right now [suggests] Boston is not ready or willing to follow Black leadership.”

“Boston should be ashamed of itself,’’ Barbara Gibbs, a 71-year-old Hyde Park resident, told the Globe. “I just think Boston is a racist city.”

Former state rep Marie St. Fleur, the first Haitian-American to serve in the Legislature, told the Globe, “It’s the story about all of Boston and the fact that in the state of Massachusetts, the city of Boston, we cannot move the White community to really come out overall to support a Black candidate as mayor.”

While we will need to see ward-level results to know exactly how the vote played out, the reality is that voters who turned out Tuesday actually were prepared to send a Black candidate to the final election — just not necessarily the same one. 

The combined vote share of the two Black women in the race, Janey and Campbell, looks like it will be about 40 percent, far more than the total for first-place winner Wu. 

Campbell sought to put a positive gloss on the turn of events. “The real winner tonight was actually Black women,’’ she told her supporters Tuesday night in conceding the race. “Collectively, our vote share surpassed all others. And what that shows is that there is an appetite indeed in this city for change and I know my candidacy helped ignite it, and I’m proud of it.”

But with that collective vote share split between two candidates, it was a hollow victory for those focused on the here and now. 

Throughout the race, the candidates and commentators emphasized that Black voters are not “a monolith,” and that the Black candidates should not be viewed as interchangeable. That was surely true. But it’s also true that the Black candidates amassed a huge share of their vote counts in predominantly Black neighborhoods — votes that almost certainly would have coalesced behind a single Black candidate had only one of them run. 

Soon after Janey took the reins as acting mayor in March and declared her candidacy, there was talk among her backers of trying to ease Campbell out of the race to provide a clearer path for the city’s first woman and first Black mayor. Campbell was having none of it, with her campaign calling the idea “misinformed and insulting.” Meanwhile, former state senator Dianne Wilkerson led an effort to get Black voters to rally around Janey.  

Janey, a second-term city councilor who had never expressed mayoral ambitions, was basking in the early national media glow of her ascension to the acting mayor’s post in a city known for racial animus. But Campbell declared her candidacy six months before Janey landed in the mayor’s seat by virtue of her position as City Council president, and the Mattapan councilor was articulating a citywide vision for Boston’s future. 

As much as some Janey supporters may have wanted to wish Campbell away, Janey could have opted to steer the city as acting mayor but not run for an elected term. She could have sought reelection to her council seat, a move that undoubtedly would have given Campbell a clearer path to victory. 

It ultimately was a game of chicken where no one budged. 

MICHAEL JONAS

FROM COMMONWEALTH

 

Wu vs. Essaibi George: Voting results in Boston trickled in, but in the end two Boston City Councilors — Michelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi George — moved on to a head-to-head matchup in the November election. As expected, the left-of-center Wu, who champions a free T, rent control, and a Green New Deal, won the top spot. The more centrist Essaibi George came in second, carving out her own lane in the political middle while appealing to former mayor Marty Walsh’s supporters and winning the backing of Walsh’s police chief.

— The three Black candidates in the race — Andrea Campbell, Kim Janey, and John Barros — finished three, four, and five. Was that outcome a reflection of racism in Boston, a failure by the Black community to coalesce behind one candidate, or was it just poor politics? Janey gained enormous advantage from her position as the acting mayor, but in the end it wasn’t enough. Campbell ran a strong campaign, relying heavily on her own personal story, but had difficulty overcoming Wu’s policy dominance. Barros never gained traction with voters. Read more.

Mixed bag for mayors elsewhere: The incumbent mayors in Framingham and Gloucester both made it into the November final election, but they face uphill battles to hang on to their seats. Former city councilor Charles Sisitsky was the big winner in Framingham, leaving incumbent Yvonne Spicer, one of the state’s most prominent Black politicians, in the dust. In Gloucester, former city councilor Greg Verga won 50 percent of the vote in a six-person race; incumbent Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken came in a distant second with 29 percent of the vote.

— The races to succeed Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone and Lynn Mayor Thomas McGee were tight. City Councilors Will Mbah and Katjana Ballantyne made it into the final in Somerville while School Committee member Jared Nicholson and City Council President Darren Cyr will square off in November in Lynn.

— Elsewhere, incumbent mayors did well. Kim Driscoll in Salem, James Fiorentini in Haverhill, Ruthanne Fuller in Newton, Robert Sullivan in Brockton, and Breanna Longo-Koehn in Medford all held commanding leads in their preliminary elections. Read more.

Two sides of David Nangle: With his sentencing set for today, the two sides of former rep David Nangle are emerging. Is he a good guy with an addiction problem, as his defense attorney asserts, or is he the conniving pol who misused campaign funds and would do anything to conceal what he was doing? Read more.

Gambling competition: Lawmakers worried about the rise of the Twin River casinos just across the border in Rhode Island, back legislation that would allow the Plainridge Park slots parlor to add more machines and expand into table games. Read more.

OPINION

Playing catchup: Nick Myers, the cofounder of Phoenix Tailings, says the US needs a Manhattan-style project to catch up with China on rare metals production. Read more.

 

FROM AROUND THE WEB

 

MUNICIPAL MATTERS  

Brewster says it has negotiated a deal to buy the Cape Cod Sea Camps property, but won’t release the purchase price until Friday. (Cape Cod Times)

A group of Rockport residents withdraw their lawsuit seeking an independent fire department in Rockport, saying the town has responded to firefighters’ demands. (Gloucester Daily Times)

ELECTIONS

California Gov. Gavin Newsom fended off a recall challenge, with available results suggesting the “no” side in the question of whether the state’s leader should be recalled was winning decisively by a margin of 28 points. (Washington Post) Some in California now want to recall the provision in state law allowing for recalls. (New York Times

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The state’s poverty rate is nearing 10 percent, according to new Census figures, a trend being fueled by high housing, medical, and transportation costs. (Boston Herald)

The red-hot Greater Boston housing market may finally be cooling off a bit. (Boston Globe)

EDUCATION

After nearly having to close 24 schools before the COVID pandemic, the Boston Archdiocese has seen a surge of interest, with more than 4,000 new students enrolling in Catholic schools over the past two years. (MassLive)

TRANSPORTATION

The state Department of Transportation took further measures to block off a long-closed, dilapidated stairway near the MBTA’s JFK/UMass Station in Dorchester where a Boston University public health professor apparently plunged to his death on Saturday. (Boston Herald) Remarkably, state authorities continue to stonewall questions about what agency is responsible for the staircase. (Boston Globe

Unions are asking the Legislature to extend collective bargaining rights to drivers for ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft. (Eagle-Tribune)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

MassLive looks back at the unsolved Molly Bish disappearance in 2000 and the three men who have been investigated by the police since then. 

Boston police confiscated 17 off-road dirt bikes and ATVs over the weekend as part of an ongoing effort to clamp down on illegal motor vehicles. (Boston Herald)