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For The First Time, Bostonians Will Elect A Mayor Who Is Not A White Man

NOEL KING, HOST:

For the first time ever, voters in Boston are on the verge of electing a mayor who is not a white man. In today's preliminary vote, there are five leading candidates, and all of them are people of color. Here's WBUR's Anthony Brooks.

ANTHONY BROOKS, BYLINE: For more than 200 years, Boston voters have only elected white men to lead their city. The last one, Marty Walsh, left town earlier this year to become President Joe Biden's labor secretary. And City Council President Kim Janey, a Black woman, became interim mayor and made history.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KIM JANEY: Today is a new day. I stand before you as the first woman and the first Black mayor of Boston, the city that I love.

BROOKS: Now Janey is one of five candidates - four women, one man - all of them people of color, not a white man among them. Today, Boston voters will send two of them to the general election in the fall. Polls suggest the front-runner is City Councilor Michelle Wu, a Taiwanese American who promises to embrace equity and a series of progressive policies.

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MICHELLE WU: Now's the moment to knock on doors so that we deliver a Green New Deal in Boston, universal pre-K and child care for families.

BROOKS: There's a tight race for the second spot between acting Mayor Janey and two city councilors - Annissa Essaibi George, the daughter of a Tunisian Muslim father, and Andrea Campbell, who grew up poor in Roxbury, one of the city's Black neighborhoods. Campbell says it's finally time to tackle inequities in housing, education and transportation.

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ANDREA CAMPBELL: There is this renewed conversation when it comes to systemic inequities and systemic reform. Finally, I'm going to push the city of Boston to have that deep and tough conversation.

BROOKS: Chris Francois, who's 32 and Black, says he's looking forward to electing a mayor of color for the first time.

CHRIS FRANCOIS: I think that'd be a good message to send out to the residents. You know, you can, too, you know, be the mayor of Boston one day, regardless of your skin color.

BROOKS: The two finalists from today's preliminary vote will face off November 2. No matter who wins, the result will be historic.

For NPR News, I'm Anthony Brooks in Boston.

(SOUNDBITE OF TRIOSENCE'S "JASMINE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.