The local political news show “On the Record” has finally extended an invitation to Boston mayoral candidate John Barros to appear on the program next month, after initially excluding him, the Barros campaign said.
The show, which airs at 11 a.m. Sundays on WCVB-TV, had asked all the mayor mayoral candidates — city councilors Andrea Campbell, Michelle Wu, Annissa Essaibi George, and Acting Mayor Kim Janey — to appear on the show in the lead-up to the Sept. 14 preliminary election.
The show did not initially invite Barros — a former city chief of economic development, 2013 mayoral candidate, School Committee member, and nonprofit leader — citing his low poll numbers.
But things took a turn Wednesday. Barros said he received an invitation to appear on the show and has accepted it. His appearance will air Sept. 12.
“I’m glad that I’ll have the opportunity to present my vision for Boston to ‘On The Record’s’ viewers, and I thank the producers and WCVB leadership for being willing to do the right thing,” Barros said. “I’m running for mayor to build a table where there’s room for everyone, because right now in Boston, far too many of us feel overlooked and left out.”
Mike Cole, the show’s producer, did not immediately respond to a Globe e-mail seeking a comment about the decision.
Controversy erupted last week when Barros’s campaign officials and supporters learned that “On the Record” would be hosting the four female candidates.
Cole had acknowledged last week that Barros was not invited and left room open for a future Barros appearance if his poll numbers increase or his campaign surges.
He noted that Barros was featured on “OTR” for about a half-hour shortly after he announced his bid for mayor in March. But with the mayoral contest “coming down to the finish line,” Cole said the program had decided to focus on the other candidates.
“I want to have John on the show if John’s a factor. I don’t want to have John on the show if ... we’re doing it because he’s on the ballot,” Cole said last week. “We could devote the time to other issues in the race that might be more significant than his candidacy, if he’s not connecting with voters at this point.”
Barros has appeared in dozens of mayoral forums since his campaign started, most of them virtual. He is among the five major candidates invited to a special live mayoral debate on Sept. 9 that is hosted by WBUR, WCVB, The Boston Globe, and UMass Boston’s McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies.
But his exclusion from other events — including a graphic on “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” on MSNBC and a forum for women of color — prompted Barros’s supporters to declare that they are witnessing an unfair pattern. Though early polling shows Barros in single digits compared to the other major competitors, his supporters contend that the race has changed in the past few weeks and that nothing is assured with so many undecided voters.
Others felt the slights are indicative of the treatment of Black men, some of whom said that they feel ignored in the campaign.
“It’s the erasure of Black men, our voice, and our representation,” Conan Harris, a staunch Barros supporter who served with him in the administration of former mayor Martin J. Walsh, said last week. “[He] is a Black man in this race running for mayor. He has the credentials, the resume, and the bandwidth to be included.”
Barros’s campaign manager Lizzy Heurich pushed back at the initial exclusion from “On the Record,” writing in a letter to the station’s president and general manager, Kyle Grimes, that Barros deserves to be invited on the show.
“No matter who wins, this will be an historic election for Boston,” Heurich wrote. “Every voter deserves the chance to hear from John and each of the other candidates so that they can make an informed decision in September.”