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Homegrown talent deserves one of our four at-large votes

Annissa Essaibi George doesn’t have former senior staff from US Senate campaigns sending out emails to rally troops on her behalf or pitching to well- heeled (nice shoes) sophisticated political donors. She doesn’t have a law degree or a lot of money. And she doesn’t have an entrenched citywide organization.

She’s a teacher. Imagine? In the classroom; yikes. In a high school; double yikes. In Boston. Triple play.

She made a career decision to teach “inner city youth” in the same system she attended. She teaches at East Boston High —a neighborhood in the city of Boston, the one you have to take a tunnel or bridge to get to.

She’s a mother of four, with triplets. She also created and owns a small business: a knitting store on Dorchester Avenue.

What? Why would anyone ever open a knitting store on Dorchester Avenue? Who does that? Knitting? Isn’t there an app for that now?

She actually went to the Inspectional Service Department and pulled all the appropriate permits to open a business in Boston. She really knows what they are. And she obviously knows a lot of knitters.

Maybe she met them when she served as the President of Columbia Savin Hill Civic Association or as a Board member of McCormack Civic or as President of Friends of Ryan Playground. Or maybe there are knitters at the Dorchester House Multi Service Center that she hooks up with as Director of the Governing Board there. I don’t recall seeing any knitters on the Columbia Point Master Plan where she served. You know I bet she meets those wild knitters when she chairs the Little Miss and Young Miss Dorchester Pageants or when she is planning the Dorchester Day Parade every year with the Dorchester Day Parade Committee.

I met Annissa on a cold night in January 1997 in my official capacity. I had just started working in the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services and was called out to a three-alarm fire on Dorchester Avenue; at Annissa’ home. It was my first official fire and I had no idea what to do. I needn’t have worried— by the time I got there Annissa had everything under control.

If you believe in poll numbers, Annissa doesn’t have a chance in hell at being elected to the Boston City Council for one of the at large slots.

But wait one Dorchester minute, she has us. And don’t forget the knitters! I just don’t know off-hand how many votes those wild and crazy knitters bring to the table.

Annissa has been committed to Boston her entire life. She has been in the trenches with community activists because she is one. She has held brooms and shovels in her hand at clean-ups, put up Christmas wreathes and gave generously a lifetime of volunteer hours when she could have been, well, knitting. Annissa’s community activism began decades ago and each stitch she has weaved created and positioned her as a future leader in the Boston City Council. But she needs us, Dorchester, to get her there.

We have four votes for Boston City Council and eight wonderful candidates but on November 5 let’s show them how we roll in wards 13, 15, 16 and 17. And if we do it right, Dorchester may have five elected officials in Boston City Hall —from my keyboard to God’s hard drive— fighting to help Boston and our neighborhood be the best it can be.
Let’s turn her triple plays into a home run. Let’s not leave her on base.

Catherine O’Neill was a candidate for at-large city council this year. She lives in Savin Hill.