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In a rare show of support for a candidate for City Council, Mayor Martin J. Walsh handed out two endorsements last week in the at-large race ahead of the Sept. 24 preliminary election. He’s supporting an incumbent and a newcomer.

Walsh endorsed Annissa Essaibi-George, an at-large councilor since 2015, as well as Alejandra St. Guillen, a first-time candidate who has won the support of progressive groups across the city.

They are both battling with more than a dozen other candidates for one of the four at-large seats. Essaibi-George and three other incumbents are seeking re-election. The top eight vote-getters in the preliminary race move on to the November general election.

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The mayor, who has typically shied from endorsing council candidates, especially in a preliminary race, said through a spokeswoman that he is embracing two “bold leaders.”

Essaibi-George, a teacher by trade, chairs the council’s Education Committee and the Committee on Homelessness, Mental Health and Recovery. Those committees work on issues that are among Walsh’s top priorities.

St. Guillen headed the mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement before running for council.

“I’ve worked closely with Annissa and Alejandra over the last several years, and have seen firsthand their dedication to the issues that are important to the residents of Boston — from making sure our schools are equipped with the resources needed to best prepare our students to succeed, to being a voice advocating for the rights and protections of our immigrant community,” the mayor said. “They are bold leaders who understand the importance of working together to solve some of our biggest challenges. I am proud to cast my vote for them both on September 24th.”

Essaibi-George welcomed the endorsement in a statement. “Each day, our community-powered grassroots campaign is gaining more momentum,” she said. “I look forward to continue working collaboratively with Mayor Walsh, neighborhood leaders, and community stakeholders to improve the quality of life for every Bostonian.”

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Walsh’s endorsement of St. Guillen comes as she has emerged as a front-runner in the race. The West Roxbury resident has support from more than 20 community groups and public officials — including Councilor Michelle Wu, Walsh’s political rival who has been mentioned as a might-be 2021 mayoral candidate.


Milton J. Valencia can be reached at milton.valencia@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @miltonvalencia.