Michelle Wu, the 36-year-old daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, made history Tuesday night, defeating fellow city councilor Annissa Essaibi George to become the first woman and the first Asian American elected mayor of Boston. For nearly 200 years, Boston has elected only white men to the top office.
“On this day, Boston elected your mom, because from every quarter of this city, Boston has spoken,” Wu said. “We are ready to be a Boston for everyone.”
Essaibi George conceded the race just after 10:20 p.m. Tuesday night, congratulating Wu on her victory and noting the history she’s made.
“I know this is no small feat. You know it’s no small feat,” Essaibi George. “I want her to show the city how mothers get it done.”
It marks the fifth-straight general election where Wu garnered more votes than Essaibi George citywide, including four at-large city council races where they faced off since 2013. Wu also ran well ahead of Essaibi George in September’s preliminary election in a larger field of candidates.
Essaibi George, 47, a former Boston public school teacher, focused her campaign on improving the city’s schools, public safety and a promise to resolve the crisis of homelessness and addiction playing out at the South End intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard, also known as “Mass. and Cass.” She promised to be a mayor “who does the work.”
“It’s not sexy; it’s not glamorous,” Essaibi George said in a debate last month on NBC Boston. “We’ve got to make sure that we’re filling pot holes, repairing our sidewalks, building playgrounds, picking up the trash and turning on the lights.”
Essaibi George’s back-to-basics approach to being mayor appealed to Nick Shumacher of Dorchester, who said Wu promised more than she can realistically delver.
“George’s positions were a little bit more concrete, or grounded,” Shumacher said. “They seemed a little bit more realistic to me, especially because she lives right here [in Dorchester].”
Among the most important issues for Shumacher was “Mass. and Cass.” He said it seemed George had a “much clearer plan” for the area.
Teddy Ahern of Dorcheser, said he voted for Essaibi George because she grew up in Boston, unlike Wu, who was raised in Chicago.
“I don’t want a person from Chicago coming into my city and saying, ‘Oh, I’ll use this as a stepping stone,’ ” Ahern said. “She’s promising things she can’t deliver.”
But voters overwhelmingly opted for Wu’s more ambitious agenda, despite Essaibi George’s claims that it is unworkable and costly. Wu offered voters a progressive wish list that includes universal pre-K, affordable child care, free public transportation and local version of the Green New Deal, which includes more trees and electric school buses to improve the environment, but also initiatives to attack poverty and close the racial wealth gap.
“I voted for Michelle because she understands that affordable housing is housing ownership,” said Laurel Radwin, who cast her vote for Wu on Tuesday. “The only way to decrease the racial wealth gap is through…