Boston mayoral candidates Michelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi George face off in first post-preliminary debate tonight


“This is the opportunity to introduce myself to the voters, to the inhabitants of the city, to talk about the very important issues that we face as a city and it is the opportunity for me to discuss and share with the inhabitants from Boston my positions on the problem, ”Essaibi George said.

Wu, at an event in Hyde Park where she was endorsed by public transport advocates, had similar feelings about the debate, calling it “a chance to reach even more residents and members of the community. community ”.

“I look forward to making sure our background, experience and vision of community members is at the forefront as we champion our cause,” she continued.

The 7 p.m. debate will be televised on WBZ.

The new poll of 500 probable voters in Boston showed Wu leads Essaibi George with 32 percentage points, at 57% versus 25% for Essaibi George. The survey was conducted by MassINC Polling Group for WBUR, the Dorchester Reporter and the Boston Foundation. It had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

Nineteen percent of voters polled said they were still undecided.

Essaibi George said the new poll didn’t change anything for her.

“We saw a lot of polls before the preliminaries and we stayed strong and focused on our strategy,” she said. “We are working every day to meet more locals in our city, we have knocked on more doors since prelims day than we did in the preliminary season, so I am delighted to win the vote and the support. residents of our city. ”

Wu, meanwhile, objected when asked if it was her run to lose, as she did throughout the contest.

“There is only one ballot going on, and that is what happens on election day,” she said. “So we are fighting to keep doing what our coalition has been doing. “

Ultimately, Wu admitted, “It’s always affirming and exciting to see signs that our message and our approach are connecting with residents. It’s not just about coming up with big ideas and big solutions that our city needs, but doing the organizing work in each community to build those coalitions and that momentum.

Wu received the most votes in the preliminary elections. She maintains a large lead among white, black, Latino and Asian voters, poll finds – 57% of black voters said they would support or lean for her, along with 57% of white voters, 62% of voters Latinos, and 63 percent of Asian voters.

By comparison, among those likely to vote in the next election, 31% of white voters said they would support or lean for Essaibi George, along with 14% of black voters, 20% of Latino voters, and 11% of Asian voters.

In the preliminary elections, Wu dominated the city’s more progressive and liberal neighborhoods, according to detailed election data. Meanwhile, Essaibi George gained more support from more conservative white neighborhoods.

Essaibi George has stepped up efforts to court a more diverse coalition of support. She opened campaign offices in Roxbury, Mission Hill and Hyde Park, and pledged a $ 100 million investment to implement a plan for equity, inclusion and justice in communities of color in Boston.

Of those likely to vote for Wu, respondents said controlling housing costs was a priority issue for them in the race, followed closely by improving Boston’s public schools. Supporters of Essaibi George, a former public school teacher, saw improving schools as their main problem, followed by severity against crime. Essaibi George is considered the more moderate of the two when it comes to police reform and public safety; she advocated for the hiring of hundreds of additional police officers in the city.

Essaibi George also presented herself as more pragmatic than Wu, who she criticized for having unrealistic ideas that go far beyond the framework of the town hall. For example, on his preliminary election night, Essaibi George pointed out that the mayor of Boston did not have the power to make MBTA free, nor could he impose rent controls, two policies that Wu supports.

Since the preliminary elections in mid-September, Wu, a resident of Roslindale, has garnered a lot of support, has outperformed Essaibi George, and now has more money than her rival. Acting Mayor Kim Janey, who finished fourth in the preliminary elections, backed Wu, as did Representative Ayanna Pressley and several coalitions representing communities of color.

Essaibi George, meanwhile, has gained the endorsement of a range of unions in recent weeks.

Late last month, Essaibi George sparked controversy when she attempted to draw sharp distinctions between her and Wu on their leadership style, their presence in city neighborhoods, and their true followers.

Essaibi George, from Dorchester, said she believed Wu’s Chicago roots were relevant to Boston voters, a comment that drew substantial comments on Twitter, where some users accused Essaibi George of “others.” townspeople who hadn’t grown up here.

Wu was asked on Wednesday whether growing up in the city should matter in the mayoral race.

“Understanding the lived experience of our leaders is important, and I think we’ve seen since my time on city council how much of a difference it makes when people can authentically connect to see themselves represented and know what makes you. motivates in the office, which has shaped your perspective, ”she said. “I wasn’t fortunate enough to be born in Boston, but I’m smart enough to make it my home here and I’m fighting for the city because Boston has given my family everything we hold dear.”

Shannon Larson of Globe staff contributed to this story.

Danny McDonald can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald. Milton J. Valencia can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @miltonvalencia.

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