September 15, 2021
Twenty-four hours after polls closed and City Councillors Michelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi George emerged as the mayoral preliminary’s winners, a super PAC is lacing into Wu.
The pro-Essaibi George super PAC, “Bostonians for Real Progress,” is one of two outside groups backing Essaibi George, who came in second place behind Wu in Tuesday’s unofficial vote tally.
The super PAC, which can pull in and spend unlimited amounts of money while facing restrictions from coordinating with the candidate it supports, is separate from another outside group backing Essaibi George. Going by “Real Progress Boston” and chaired by former Boston police commissioner William Gross, the other super PAC has pulled in $495,000 from New Balance chairman Jim Davis, as well as additional money from general contracting companies and police unions.
Wu has her own two super PACs, fueled by donations from environmental advocacy groups.
The pro-Essaibi George “Bostonians for Real Progress” super PAC, which recently picked up a donation from a top firefighters union, hopes to raise at least $1 million in the general election.
Essaibi George “will work to raise up the prosperity for everyone in the city, give Boston’s children the best opportunity to succeed in public schools, and have safe neighborhoods that families can walk through,” Steve Jewett, the super PAC’s executive director, said in a statement issued Wednesday night. “Under Essaibi George, the city will build off past success, but under Wu it risks diluting and deteriorating the city we know.”
Jewett charged that Wu pushes “fantasy land policies.” “As a result, taxes are probably rising under a Mayor Wu,” he said, pointing to a Wu proposal from 2019 to charge residents for parking permits.
Wu’s campaign declined to comment Wednesday night.
Wu’s 2019 proposal, which would have started at $25 for resident parking permits, noted that Cambridge and Somerville charge an annual fee for on-street parking permits. Wu told GBH it would help reduce traffic and pollution. Then-Mayor Marty Walsh panned the idea, saying it wasn’t fair for residents to pay.
In his statement Wednesday night, Jewett, whose resume includes working as a senior adviser to Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, called Wu’s proposal “unrealistic” and doubted that residents would support the proposal. He pointed to an earlier proposal calling for a $100 fee.
But it appears Essaibi George also supports an annual parking fee. A candidate questionnaire submitted to a coalition of groups, such as the Boston Cyclists Union and the Allston Brighton Health collaborative, showed Essaibi George’s camp saying she “strongly” supports charging for residential parking permits.
Jewett’s pro-Essaibi George super PAC formed in July. While it mostly focused on digital advertising during the preliminary race, it expects to “greatly expand capabilities,” he said.
The outside group recently pulled in $50,000 from the Washington-based International Association of Firefighters, a union run by Ed Kelly, a Dorchester native who previously served as president of Boston Fire Fighters Local 718. The Dorchester local endorsed Essaibi George’s mayoral campaign in May 2021.
Between July 21 and Sept. 14, the super PAC reported spending $120,546 while raising $213,504. Its other donors include the owner of a Hyde Park auto shop business, a Wellesley financial analyst, real estate developer Stuart Mullally of Milton, and a number of limited liability companies with ties to Dorchester, according to publicly available filings with campaign finance regulators.
This posted was updated at noon Thursday, Sept. 16, with Essaibi George's stance on permits, per a questionnaire submitted to the Vision Zero Coalition.