We sat down with three candidates of color from Boston’s recent elections, John Barros and Felix G. Arroyo, who ran for mayor, and Michelle Wu, who ran for and won an at-large City Council seat, to hear what they learned from their campaigns — and what their hopes are for the city’s future under Mayor-elect Martin J. Walsh.
What was the biggest challenge you faced as you campaigned earlier this year?
John Barros: The biggest challenge I faced was probably raising money. I had to get out there and as a candidate who did not hold an office, present myself as a viable candidate, and then make the case for why I was going to actually win, and get people to invest in that.
Michelle Wu: For me it was name recognition. As a first-time candidate running citywide, Boston becomes much, much larger, and everybody expects to see you and have a conversation with you face to face. It’s a lot of ground to cover. And the focus the whole time was on the mayor’s race. So as a council candidate, there was the extra challenge of really needing to get out there and have a strong ground game.
Felix G. Arroyo: My circle of friends aren’t people with a lot of disposable income, and so we would high-five each other if I got a $100 check.
So for me it was fund-raising, and trying to figure out how do we build a campaign that’s grass roots in nature without the funds to be able to feed it.
What was the most hopeful sign you saw on the campaign trail?
Arroyo: I went to the Latino senior day center. It’s in Hyde Park, hundreds of Latinos there. And I could tell they were looking at me, but didn’t really see me. They saw their own kid. They saw why they moved to this country. They saw that we have real opportunities here. It’s really a classic American story of someone who looks like me, whose parents moved here speaking no English, could now say I’m running for mayor.
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