BOSTON (AP) — Boston mayoral hopefuls Michelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi George face off Monday night in the final debate of a campaign that will for the first time end with a woman and person of color being elected to the top political office in the city.
The debate comes as Bostonians have already begun casting their ballots at early voting locations across the city. Early voting runs through Friday. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 2.
The debate could give Essaibi George her last best chance to appeal to voters who have yet to make up their mind. Wu has led the race in recent polls.
The contest will make history with the winner — whether Wu ,36, or Essaibi George, 47 — becoming the first woman and first person of color to be elected mayor.
Wu, whose parents immigrated to the U.S. from Taiwan, grew up in Chicago and moved to Boston to attend Harvard University and Harvard Law School. Essaibi George, 47, a lifelong Boston resident, describes herself as a first-generation Arab-Polish American.
Boston has only elected white men as mayor. Wu and Essaibi George are both Democrats.
Essaibi George and Wu agree that the city is facing many challenges — from public schools and policing to managing the pandemic and coping with soaring housing costs — but differ on how they would tackle the problems.
The two have been spending the final days of the campaign racing across the city to speak to undecided voters and encourage their supporters to get to the polls.
On Saturday, both candidates spoke at a Town Hall forum at the Morning Star Baptist Church in the city’s Mattapan neighborhood.
The city’s previous elected mayor — Democrat Marty Walsh — stepped down to become U.S. Secretary of Labor under President Joe Biden.
He was replaced on an acting basis by Kim Janey, who was sworn in March 24 as Boston’s first female and first Black mayor. Janey ran for mayor — but failed to be one of the two top vote-getters during last month’s preliminary election.