Breaking down Boston’s five candidates

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Photo: Courtesy

Clockwise from top left: Michelle Wu, Kim Janey, John Barros, Andrea Campbell, and Annissa Essaibi George, and

By Frankie Rowley, Deputy Express Editor

Preliminary elections for Boston mayoral election—the first contest without an elected incumbent since 1993—are set for Sept. 14—after which two final candidates will progress to the general election on Nov. 2. 

For the undecided, partially decided, and even the decided who want to know more, here are the five candidates that Boston residents will be able to cast their ballots for on Tuesday:

Kim Janey (D)

Currently serving as acting mayor following Martin J. Walsh’s appointment as President Joseph R. Biden’s Secretary of Labor, Janey, 56, is the first Black and first female mayor in Boston. Prior to her appointment, she became the first woman to represent City Council District 7—which covers parts of Roxbury, the South End, Dorchester, and Fenway—in 2017. Janey became president of the council in 2020, leading Boston through the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As mayor, Janey has pledged to dedicate 25 percent of city contracts to female- and minority-owned businesses, implemented racial and equity leadership training for city employees, and has called for cutting police overtime spending by a third. She also has earmarked $4 million towards a green jobs initiative and $48 million towards infrastructure sustainability. 

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Michelle Wu (D)

A fourth-term city council member, Wu, 36, serves as one of four councilors at-large on the Boston City Council, and is the first Asian-American woman to ever hold a seat in the council. First elected in 2013, Wu held the role of city council president from 2016 to 2018, becoming the first woman of color to hold the title. 

Wu’s central campaign promises include promoting change within the Boston Police Department by “reimagining” collective bargaining agreements and creating a standardized discipline matrix for increased accountability. Further, she also plans to create an emergency response team of mental health counselors and social workers for nonviolent incident calls. In regards to climate change, Wu has called for Boston to be completely carbon neutral by 2040, planning to transition the city to a 100 percent renewable energy power source by 2030. She also is in favor of solar and energy efficiency measures. Wu has also proposed eliminating fares on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. 

Andrea Campbell (D) 

Campbell, 39, a council member since 2015, serves as the representative to District Four—Dorchester, Mattapan, and parts of Roslindale and Jamaica Plain. She served as city council president from 2018-2020, making her the first African-American woman to occupy the role. 

As mayor, Campbell aims to develop a racial equity plan to examine Boston’s role in perpetuating inequity, as well as establishing a commission to address previous racial discrimination. Campbell has already established equity training for councilors and staff, and has fought for body cameras and the creation of a dedicated office for police accountability and transparency. Her platform also includes proposals for a greener Boston, promising to align infrastructure projects with Boston’s climate policies. She also aspires to turn all of Boston’s city vehicles electric and turn the city carbon neutral by 2035. 

Annissa Essaibi George (D)

Essaibi George, 47, serves alongside Wu as one of the city council’s four councilors at-large. Elected in 2015, she is also the owner of Stitch House in Dorchester, a fabric and yarn shop. 

Essaibi George has been opposed to reallocating police funding. Instead, she is hoping to cultivate transparency and accountability by mandating implicit bias training, mental health clinicians in every precinct, and overhauling the department’s gang database. On climate change, Essaibi George hopes to establish a green economy and create a transportation office of innovation and information dedicated to addressing infrastructure problems.

John Barros (D)

Barros, 48, formerly served as the chief of economic development for then-Mayor Walsh. A philanthropist, he currently chairs the city’s Trustees of Charitable Donations board. 

Barros plans on creating more accessible avenues to higher education for people of color and hopes to close the racial wealth gap. His platform includes the establishment of a minimum guaranteed income, as well as the reimagining of Boston police through the city’s Police Reform Task Force. He has also promised that within his first 100 days in office, he will release a safe and healthy communities agency, responsible for responding to mental and public health crises and behavioral issues. In terms of climate change, Barros hopes to make Boston carbon neutral by 2050 through strengthening emission standards for new developments, rejecting public transit cuts, and dedicating $660 million to climate resilience projects.