Massachusetts kicked off the preliminary elections this past Tuesday, with progressives gearing to make major gains in November’s election. Cities like Brockton and Framingham look to be continuing with (or returning to) the status quo, but Boston, Medford, and Somerville could all be in for a progressive shift in November. While there were a good handful of prelims last week, here is a brief rundown of a few.
In Brockton, incumbent mayor Robert Sullivan took home 1st place over City-Councilor Tina Cardoso by a wide-margin of 71 percent of the vote to just 22 percent. Sullivan became mayor just two years ago, after serving 14 years in the City Council. Tina Cardoso, who would be the city’s first Black woman mayor, was elected to City Council in 2019 and has been a nurse for over 25 years.
Cardoso, who was born in Cape Verde Islands, is looking to bring her lived experience perspective as a nurse to the Mayor’s office to provide an equitable and just pandemic recovery and future. After just 10% of potential voters came out on the 14th, she will need the help of progressives everywhere to increase turnout and name recognition for the general election in November.
Incumbent-Mayor Yvonne Spicer is facing an uphill battle against former City Councilor Charlie Sisitsky. While it is abnormal for the incumbent to be viewed as the outsider in an election, Charlie Sisitsky was in city government for over 20 years. He first served as a selectman 1998, then as a City Councilor when Framingham reclassified as a city in 2018 through 2019.
Sisitsky and his supporters regularly cite a negative work environment between the Mayor’s office and the City Council’s office. Part of this can certainly be ascribed to differences in ideology, but another part certainly comes from the growing pains of changing from a town government to a city government.
North of Boston, there could be a major progressive shift. Somerville is poised to have a Democratic Socialist takeover of their City Council this November. On top of that, the top two vote getters in the Mayoral Prelim are both quite progressive.
Although Will Mbah, the sitting City Councilor, is most progressives’ top choice to be Mayor, Katjana Ballantyne would not be the worst consolation prize. Ballantyne, Ward 7’s City Councilor, has taken the Pressley Policy Pledge and has earned the endorsement of the Mass Women’s Political Caucus PAC while campaigning on a need for climate resiliency and a more equitable Somerville.
Will Mbah, a Cameroonian immigrant, has earned big endorsements from organizations like Sunrise Somerville and Our Revolution. Mbah has also likely been the most outspoken candidate in terms of housing, calling for a raise to the city’s affordability to requirement. Both candidates, though, have called for some form of rent control.
While Mbah may have earned the big endorsement of Our Revolution and Sunrise, Ballantyne is no slouch as the author of Somerville’s Green New Deal. Somerville progressives should be thrilled with their options.
Boston is where most of the attention went last Tuesday, and will likely remain through November. In a historically diverse field of candiates fighting to win the seat that Kim Janey currently occupies, Michelle Wu (who ran away with 33% of the vote) and Annissa Essaibi George will move on to face off in November. Both candidates are already establishing their lanes, with Wu being the progressive choice and Essaibi George being the centrist choice,
Credit to Andrea Campbell for running a wonderful campaign anchored in her desire to fight for a more inclusive and equitable Boston. Kim Janey, who was late to launch her campaign, has already made history as the first mayor of Boston to not be a white man. Their leadership in Boston will remain welcome and urgent as we move into this new era of Boston politics and continue to recover from the devastating pandemic.
While a majority of this race has been fought in good nature, there has been some scandal surrounding Annissa Essaibi George. One scandal was that she used her office in the City Council to benefit her husband’s real estate business. It has been alleged that Essaibi George has used her position in the city’s government to block the projects being run by her husband’s rivals. Not only is this a clear conflict of interest, but it raises questions about her ethics. According to the Boston Globe piece, her husband has had several issues with City hall, including; issues making payments “It was only this January — two weeks before his wife launched her mayoral campaign — that George addressed 116 late payments for failing to register apartments over at least seven years.” and “in July, Boston sent him a stack of warning letters for failing to register another 14 units and renewing 20 others.”
Furthermore, the Boston Globe piece paints a picture of what one former tenant would call a “slumlord.” The piece revealed a pattern of behavior that showed Douglas George was nothing short of just that, a slumlord.
There was more news reported by the Dorchester Reporter on September 8th that should make progressives unhappy: Republican mega-donor Jim Davis got involved and put $495,000 through a Super PAC into Essaibi George’s campaign. The New Balance chairman has donated almost $7.5 million into Republican campaigns over the years, including $496,000 to Donald Trump’s campaign. Simply put, Essaibi George should not have accepted this PACs money. If not for moral reasons, she should have rejected it for strategic reasons. Boston has made it clear that it rejects Trump and Trumpism. In the 2020 election, 82.5% of Bostonians voted for Joe Biden against Donald Trump and 82.7% voted for Ed Markey against the right-winger Kevin O’Connor.
Fortunately for Boston leftists, Michelle Wu appeared to run away with first-place in the preliminary election, beating Essaibi George by about 11%. Wu has proposed bold ideas such as the Boston Green New Deal and “Free the T.” She’s also earned major endorsements from the likes of Elizabeth Warren, Lydia Edwards, Jay Gonzalez, and Sonia Chang-Diaz.
The choice for Bostonians is clear here, between an equitable future and sustaining a status quo that has caused housing issues, the city to be susceptible to the consequences of the climate crisis, and racial biases in all facets of life.
Depending on the results of both the preliminary and official election, Massachusetts could be in for a massive shift to the left.
The next round of elections will be held today, September 21st, and can be seen here.