Annissa Essaibi-George recalls coming home one day to find a burglar in her Dorchester house, clutching a trash bag full of her belongings. They looked at each other, and he took off running.
She chased him, she said, scaling backyard fences and scraping her skin until a neighbor cornered the guy, who eventually got away.
As Essaibi-George tells the story, captured in the press, in her campaign for a citywide seat on the City Council, she is hoping to help illustrate who she really is to potential voters.
“I was defending my turf,’’ she said. “I feel that as a city councilor I would do the same for the people of Boston.”
Essaibi-George, 39, grew up in a heavily Polish section of Dorchester, where many of her neighbors harbored dreams of seeking political office.
Essaibi-George is the only public school teacher in the race.
“I think everyone in Dorchester possibly had the political bug at one point in their life,’’ she said.
Her inkling to run came early this year, when vacancies on the council and in the mayor’s office opened up. After reading a column bemoaning the lack of women in the race, Essaibi-George wondered aloud to her husband, Douglas, and a neighbor what she had been thinking: “What do you think about a City Council run?”
Her neighbor instantly thought Essaibi-George was referring to Douglas. But she was talking about herself.
“That’s the moment I became committed to running,’’ she said.
Essaibi-George said she adds a unique perspective in the race as the only public school teacher, the only mother of four boys — including 7-year-old triplets — and the only small-business owner running.
She came in seventh out of eight at-large finalists in the preliminary election Sept. 24. Compared with other candidates with huge war chests, Essaibi-George had about $9,400 cash in hand as of Oct. 17. But she has the endorsements of some powerful unions, such as Boston Firefighters Local 718, the Boston Teachers Union, and the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association. And she has fiercely defended teachers, firefighters, and police.
She is campaigning for economic development and better public safety, particularly around property crimes. While her political opponents are calling for more early childhood programs, Essaibi-George is trumpeting better high schools.
“In the race, everyone is talking about the early years,’’ she said. “But we also need to remember that our kids eventually need to go to high school,” and the city’s three exam schools aren’t an answer for every family.
Considered an up-and-coming city leader, she has held numerous civic posts. She has been a teacher at East Boston High School for 12 years and owns the Stitch House, a colorful Dorchester Avenue shop where yarn fills the shelves and the sewing machine hums.
She is of Tunisian and Polish heritage. Her mother is Polish and her father, who has died, is from Tunisia. Her grandparents married in a displaced persons camp in Germany, where her mother, Barbara, a Globe receptionist, was born.