While men make up the vast majority of the City Council, it was two women –Dorchester’s Ayanna Pressley and newcomer Michelle Wu– who topped the ticket in the at-large race.
Another Dorchester woman, Annissa Essaibi-George, finished fifth. That’s not enough to earn a seat, but it does mean she will fill the shoes of any at-large councilor who decides against finishing his or her term.
Pressley was one of two incumbents running – the other was Stephen Murphy – and both were elected. Former City Councillor At-Large Michael Flaherty of South Boston won the other seat— about 10,000 votes ahead of Murphy, who finished fourth.
“The benefit of being an incumbent is to have a record to run on and I’m damn proud of mine,” Pressley said.
Pressley said her fight to reduce trauma among women and girls resonated with voters in an atmosphere where most were focused on the mayor’s race. Pressley said she tried to communicate the importance of the races for city council, a body which will have to work closely with the mayor.
“We do what we always do on Election Day,” Pressley said. “We were heavy on the ground, working the phones hard, and I was traversing the city in neighborhoods all over.” Pressley spent the night with supporters at Darryl’s Corner Bar and Kitchen on Columbus Avenue.
As the vote totals came in, Pressley went back and forth as top vote-getter with newcomer Michelle Wu, who spent her election night at Shojo Restaurant in Chinatown.
One large television above the bar was hooked up to the city of Boston’s election website, and supporters looked on as the vote totals were updated. In the corner, friends and family had fun with a photo booth, relaxing after a long final day of a long campaign.
For Wu, a South End resident, her success came from meeting people face to face and having conversations, she said.
“People are so engaged,” Wu said. “They want to get to know you and they want to have conversations about what they care about.”
When the final votes were tallied, the four front-runners had a commanding lead above the rest of the field. Pressley took the top spot with 60,733 votes, with Wu close behind at 59,668 votes. Both women got about 18 percent of the vote.
Michael Flaherty came in third with 55,040 votes, or about 17 percent, followed by Stephen Murphy with 44,937 votes, making about 13.5 percent.
Essaibi-George trailed with 30,504 votes and just over 9 percent, but that was enough to beat out the other candidates – Jeffrey Ross, an attorney from the South End; Martin Keogh, a former City Council aide from West Roxbury; and Jack Kelly, a former aide to Mayor Thomas Menino in Charlestown – for the number five spot. A mother of four and a small business owner, Essaibi-George was thrilled to get that far. She came in seventh in the primary in September.
Surrounded by her family and her signature color of pink, Essaibi-George thanked her supporters in her own home on Mayhew Street.
She finished off the night by heading to the Walsh celebration.
“Tomorrow I’m going to sleep in and spend time with my kids,” Essaibi-George said. “I’ve missed them and they’ve missed me over the course of the campaign.”