Former Roxbury district councilman Tito Jackson is putting his political might behind Acting Mayor Kim Janey, joining a list of politicians, advocates, and grass-roots groups that have been pledging to help elect Janey to a full term.
Calling Janey “my mayor,’' Jackson highlighted her activism, saying that she has fought for racial, economic, environmental, and educational justice throughout her career and will bring “that same spirit” to City Hall.
Jackson served as District 7 councilman before running unsuccessfully against former mayor Martin J. Walsh in 2017. Janey succeeded Jackson, becoming the first woman to represent District 7. As council president, she became acting mayor after Walsh became US labor secretary.
“When we look back at the history of Boston, we still have so many challenges, so many disparities, and so much opportunity to ensure that everybody rises,’' Jackson said in an interview. “Kim’s lived experience, her understanding of the city of Boston, and her vision for the city are what Boston needs at this time.”
Janey said she is proud to have the former Grove Hall politician’s support, noting Jackson’s advocacy for the people in District 7, which includes Roxbury and parts of Dorchester and the South End. Jackson was known for using the council’s bully pulpit to champion improvements in education, economic revitalization in marginalized neighborhoods, and more civic activism for underrepresented people.
“I witnessed first-hand the way Tito has stood up for the residents of District 7 — and all the residents of Boston — during his time on the council and every day since,’' Janey said in a statement. “He has been a thoughtful and passionate advocate for those who too often have been unseen and unheard, and that is why I am so grateful to have earned his support.”
The pair will campaign together Thursday evening, her campaign said.
Jackson said he has confidence in Janey’s ability to create more affordable housing and paths to home ownership. He noted her efforts to ensure equity and excellence for every student in the city’s public schools and have a public transportation system that works for riders who depend on it every day.
He said Janey’s experience, leadership, and vision for Boston mean she can take the city to the next level. “She has had to take many difficult steps to clean up several issues that she did not invent,’' said Jackson, who is now a businessman. “But time and time again she has risen to the occasion to lead and make the hard decisions that we need to move Boston forward in these difficult times.”
Jackson’s endorsement comes just weeks before the Sept. 14 preliminary election and as the candidates make their most urgent pitches to a public starting to pay closer attention to the race. (The top two contenders will compete in the Nov. 2 general election.)
Larry DiCara, a former Boston city councilor and local political historian, said Jackson’s endorsement is a boon for Janey. DiCara noted that Jackson was the first person of color to make it to a final mayoral election since former state representative Mel King in 1983.
“He is well respected, both in the communities of color, as well as the larger community,” he said.
Jackson’s father, Herb Kwakuzulu Jackson, was “a real player in his day” as a community activist, DiCara added. “This is second-generation juice,” DiCara said. “I think this helps Kim solidify the support in the core of the Black community . . . This is a very valuable endorsement.”
With Jackson’s endorsement, Roxbury — a predominantly Black neighborhood — is again in the spotlight. No mayoral candidate has won without first capturing the Black community in more than 40 years.
Recent polls show Janey and Michelle Wu, a former City Council president, leading the pack of five major mayoral candidates in a close contest. The other candidates are Andrea Campbell and Annissa Essaibi George, both city councilors, and John Barros, the city’s former chief of economic development.
Janey has been gaining in both fund-raising and support. Recently, she was endorsed by the Arroyo family, which has political sway in the city’s Latino community. Other groups that have backed Janey include WAKANDA II, which supports critical issues for the city’s Black residents; Right to the City Vote!, made up of advocates representing working-class immigrants and communities of color; and two key labor unions representing hotel workers and city government workers.
The endorsements have a “snowball effect” that could increase substantially for the acting mayor in the days leading up to the election, DiCara said.
“I think a lot of people have been holding [back], waiting,’' he added. “And now they are stepping up. We don’t know who is going to step up next.”