Michelle Wu declared victory in the Boston mayoral race, ushering in a historic first for the city with as the first female chief executive elected.
“Thank you for trusting me to be Boston’s next mayor,” Wu told enthusiastic Cyclorama supporters in the South End. “Let’s dig in. “
Wu, 36, a city councilor for Roslindale, will be Boston’s first woman and first person of color to be elected mayor.
“I warmly congratulate Michelle Wu. She is the first woman and the first Asian American to be elected mayor of Boston,” said Essaibi-George. “This is not an easy task.”
Wu beat his fellow General Counsel Essaibi-George of Dorchester, who conceded the race during a phone call to Wu just before 10 p.m. from the Fairmont Copley Hotel.
The vote count remains unofficial as city workers scramble to count election day votes and mail-in ballots.
Taking the stage for Kenny Chesney’s “Boston,” Essaibi-George played on his Boston roots by telling his supporters “Never forget I’m from Boston” – a campaign favorite used to highlight Wu’s education in Chicago.
Essaibi-George portrayed strength in the face of defeat by swearing, “I will never stop fighting for the city I love.
Wu, who has served on the board since 2014, introduced herself as a progressive in the style of her mentor and former Harvard law professor, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, who roamed the city with her in the final days of the race. .
Essaibi-George presented himself as the relatively moderate in a race that was sympathetic most of the time but turned nasty in the last week, largely involving PACs affiliated with Essaibi-George and activists going on the offensive against Wu with polls predicting his hefty lead.
The pair were the first two in a more crowded field in the September preliminaries, ousting interim mayor Kim Janey, city councilor Andrea Campbell and former city economic development director John Barros.
Wu likes to quickly count down the number of days since she started running for mayor, but in reality, it’s an underselling. She’s been preparing for years and doing so successfully, as was first shown in the preliminary race, when she stayed above the fray and won a solid first place.
She then acted swiftly to solidify support, especially among black elected officials, in a way that Essaibi-George simply did not – and Wu on Tuesday reaped the rewards.
Essaibi-George largely stuck to the heavy core strategy she had been implementing from the start, though she also rushed to all parts of town. But while this was a successful preliminary strategy in a crowded race, it didn’t attract enough new voters to take her over the second hump. Even spending a full 24 hours campaigning in the last push before the edge turned out to be unsuccessful for the small business owner and 47-year-old former teacher.
Essaibi-George vowed to “keep going”, assuring fans that there are “countless other ways to make a difference” and giving his opponent a few words of support.
“I want her to show the city how mothers do it,” Essaibi-George said of Wu.
Because there is no sitting mayor, Wu will take office in just two weeks, on November 16. This means that what normally takes a few months for a transition will now be compressed into the time leading up to Thanksgiving.
Wu was reluctant to know who was on her transition team, aside from naming the leader, local education activist Mariel Novas. She also declined to talk about who would be in her office.
Boston’s political world will now be hanging on to what are sure to be upcoming appointments to key positions within its administration, including chief of staff and various cabinet positions, which are expected to turn heavily under a new mayor. . She will also be able to appoint a new police chief – she has promised a “national search” – and several appointments to the school committee.
Wu’s victory leads to open-ended questions that only time in power can answer. How much will she focus on her more ambitious ideas – which are usually beyond her direct control – such as making the MBTA free, implementing rent control, and abolishing the Boston Planning & Development Agency?
How will her relations with the police and cop unions evolve, as she seeks to renegotiate certain elements of the contracts in the name of reform?
And how will Wu, who relished being the opposition for so many years as a vocal critic of Marty Walsh, manage to become the establishment?