Boston's preliminary election voting Tuesday allows voters to winnow the field of candidates for mayor and City Council down to finalists who will face off in November. GBH News went out to speak with voters at the polls about who they wanted to vote for and why.
The five major mayoral candidates are City Councilor Michelle Wu, Acting Mayor Kim Janey, City Councilor Annissa Essaibi George, City Councilor Andrea Campbell and Boston’s former chief of economic development John Barros. Wu went into election day leading most polls for one of the two November spots, with the other three women essentially tied for the second spot on the general election ballot.
“Oh man, this is one of the best elections ever because there are, like, six people who could win and I’d be happy,” said East Boston’s Cindy Dye.
Dye, who supports Wu, made her choice based on issues on housing, climate change and the pandemic. She was convinced, in part, by a conversation with City Councilor Lydia Edwards, her representative who endorsed Wu.
“All of those women could be mayor and I’d be dancing in the streets,” she said of the leading four women.
“I really think that we have the luxury of really, really, good candidates this year,” Dye continued. “One of the reasons I’ve voted for earlier mayors is because of their experience. Here, we have a whole slew of candidates who are very, very experienced.”
65-year-old Roxbury resident Marvin Smith said he is worried about afforable housing going into this election.
“I was raised here, and in the ’60s my mom bought a house at 10 Cedar Park in Roxbury and she paid $15,000,” he said. “And my daughter just bought a house on Mount Pleasant, and she spent over 800 grand for that and — and it’s ridiculous.”
Nicole Foinna in East Boston said she was leaning towards Campbell, though she was originally interested in Janey. The late school bus arrivals on Boston Public Schools’ first day and how Janey spoke about them put her off, Foinna said. She was compelled by Campbell’s personal story, as well as housing concerns.
“My family just had to move out of Boston because parking is an issue, because of all the buildings going up, it’s insane,” Foinna said.
“I will say,” she added, “I didn’t do too much research because I was like, this is just the primaries.”
Jose Martinez from East Boston voted for Andrea Campbell.
“She’s the only candidate that is speaking about Melnea Cass, and that, to me, is one of the major issues to the city,” he said, referencing the homelessness and addiction crisis at the intersection of Massachusetts Ave. and Melnea Cass Blvd. “So I feel like if she’s the only one speaking out about it, she’s got my vote.”
He was torn between Campbell and Wu, but hasn’t heard Wu speaking about the issue.
Kaitlin Sullivan, who’s lived in Boston for seven years, said she is voting for Essaibi George because “she’s the most moderate on things.” She favored her position on exam schools as well as her broader platform.
Though she hasn’t always been a regular voter, Sullivan started voting more consistently since former President Donald Trump was elected — “getting away from him.”
Roy Cashion from Beacon Hill said Tuesday afternoon he was still deciding how to vote. He’s torn between Janey, Wu and Barros.
“I think I’m going to make a game-time decision,” he said. “None of them really jump out at me and really speak to me. Like, Marty Walsh, I really liked from the beginning.”
He was out in the West End in support of his friend Jon Spillane, an at-large City Council candidate.
“I’m going to see where things play out when I go in there — I have ’til 8 o’clock tonight,” Cashion said.
Dorchester’s Betsy Boggia, an environmental voter, was excited by this year’s field of candidates.
“It’s the one opportunity to really have your voice heard for the candidate that you think is gonna best serve this city before the choice is whittled down, so it was super important to come out,” she said.
Campbell will be getting a vote from Monisha Pahuja in East Boston.
“I’m really torn between Michelle Wu and Andrea [Campbell], and so I think I would like to see the two of them have a chance to go to the final round,” she said. “I think Michelle Wu’s probably going to get past that threshold.”
“Somebody who’s gonna move the city forward in terms of things like climate change, better or more equal access to opportunities and I’m just, I’m excited to see.
“I think Boston’s next mayor is going to be our first elected female mayor,” she said, smiling, “so whoever it is, I’m pretty excited about that. ... It’s like a new era."
George Deveney, a father of two from Dorchester, called today’s election, with five mayoral candidates of color on the ballot, unprecedented.
“This reflects the city of Boston that I know, these candidates,” Deveney said. “[Turnout is] a must. I wish that more people came out and voted for these things. Not only this, but for school board. Across the country, these are the kind of elections that really matter and make a difference.”
GBH News' Edgar B. Herwick III contributed reporting.