I know what is expected after a preliminary loss: a series of private meetings between campaign teams, followed by a quick endorsement and a commitment to get the endorsee elected. Election after election, that closed-door process has largely resulted in many promises made, far fewer kept, and a net yield of little more than a few jobs and opportunities for a select few. To engage in it now would only ensure the same result and run contrary to the substance, transparency, and inclusiveness that drove my Boston mayoral campaign and built trust with the more than 21,000 Bostonians who voted for me. It’s time for a different approach.
My supporters know that our campaign was grounded in the issues, one that rejected the status quo, worked hard to earn the support of every voter, and always sought to make people feel seen and heard, especially those who often feel left out in this political process. It was always about the people and the future of Boston at a time when inequities have been exposed and exacerbated by the coronavirus global pandemic and people were marching in the thousands for justice and action from their government. I am committed to continuing to lead in this way, starting with my decision on whether to endorse a candidate.
Boston’s inequities are stark and particularly acute in the Black community — a community that is now looking at the two finalists for mayor with some trepidation, anxiety, and concern that they will not be heard, empowered, or represented. Many Black voters feel disaffected or distrust government, in part because of generations of empty or broken promises from elected officials, and it holds many back from voting or engaging with our political system — including the recent preliminary election. That makes it even more important for the two mayoral candidates — City Councilors Annissa Essaibi George and Michelle Wu — to be honest and direct with how they will address these inequities and include and empower Black Bostonians in their campaigns and potential administrations.
The next mayor of Boston must take decisive, transformative action to close persistent economic gaps, including the racial wealth gap; to dramatically improve the Boston Public Schools and ensure all children have access to excellent public schools and programs from birth to 12th grade; to enact policing reforms to make the police department the most transparent and accountable in the nation; to make all neighborhoods safer by investing in strategies that address root causes of violence; to implement a comprehensive plan to address the public health and public safety crisis at Mass. and Cass and the surrounding neighborhoods; to ensure residents can afford to live and prosper in the city of Boston; and to center communities of color in our climate resiliency plans.
My challenge to Essaibi George and Wu is to tell our communities — not merely in private meetings or phone calls with me or stakeholders, but publicly and directly to residents — what specific, tangible plans they have to deliver racial equity in our health, housing, schools, public safety, and economic systems.
To those with whom I’ve sat and talked, the hundreds who have e-mailed, texted, reached out on conference calls and social media, stopped me on the street, or spoken out at forums: I heard you. I hear you.
My endorsement will be used to amplify your voices in this election. You want substantive, sustainable solutions that will improve your lives now, fearless leadership willing to take political risks to craft policies and plans that are bold and achievable and, most of all, accountability when there is a failure of those things.
My endorsement will go to the candidate who makes the most credible case and who inspires the most confidence that she will meet these challenges. That decision will be centered around your voices and your priorities.
Andrea J. Campbell is a Boston city councilor and former candidate for Boston mayor.