Black candidates came close, but it came down to turnout
As we’ve followed the troubling legislation in Texas that made it more difficult for people to cast ballots, the analysis was that these new protocols would have an outsize impact on the ability of communities of color to represent their preferences in elections. Those of us in the enlightened Northeast looked with disdain (yet again) on the chronically benighted people of Texas and the South.
On Sept. 14, Boston voters had the opportunity to choose from the most diverse set of candidates the city had ever seen. In fact, the leading mayoral hopefuls were all self-identified as people of color. There was enthusiasm for three Black candidates, and yet not one of them advanced (“Parsing Black mayoral letdown,” Page A1, Sept 19).
One of the reasons is that there was woefully weak turnout, especially in neighborhoods of color. For example, turnout in largely white, and decidedly conservative, West Roxbury was around 40 percent; the turnout in largely Black Roxbury was 20 percent. Had there been even a few thousand additional votes cast for the leading Black candidates, either would have earned a place in the November final.
In the old days, traditional political candidates, especially in Boston, knew how to turn out the vote. Voting this year has never been easier, with opportunities for early voting, mail-in balloting, and ample in-person options.
Voters squandered an opportunity for the city to see its first elected Black mayor. For all the rhetoric about a new era dawning, communities and the candidates themselves failed to ensure one of the most important responsibilities of citizenship: voting. Along with everything else demanding attention in the Boston Public Schools, teaching civics needs to be near the top of curricular imperatives. May the next mayor of Boston help see that the next generation is educated to understand this critical role, so that we will benefit from a properly participatory democracy.
Kerry P. Brennan
Preliminary was a victory for diversity
I am constantly struck by all of the recent articles bemoaning the failure to get a Black mayoral candidate in the top two spots for November’s election in Boston. From my perspective, the primary was a victory for diversity, with an Asian American, two Black candidates, and the daughter of immigrants, all female, placing in the top four. Why do we have to label it a failure just because a Black candidate did not place in the top two?
I remember voting for Barack Obama in 2008, not because he was Black (I am white), but because I thought he was the best person for the job. In all elections, isn’t that what is supposed to count the most?
Don’t blame the voters of Jamaica Plain
Re “Parsing Black mayoral letdown”: It was curious to read the suggestion that somehow the voters of Jamaica Plain prevented Kim Janey from reaching the top two in the mayoral preliminary. Despite the premise of the article, the mayoral race is about the whole city and not any one neighborhood. Based on ward and precinct returns, if all of the votes Michelle Wu received in any one neighborhood of the city were removed from her totals and assigned to another candidate, Wu still would have finished first in the preliminary.