Editorial: Let the best woman win

Congratulations to Michelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi George. Both women ran thoughtful, well-organized and well-executed campaigns. Let’s give them due credit: They prevailed last Tuesday, punching their ticket to the general election on Nov. 2.

It’s no cakewalk running for office, and it’s not easy on families, either. But there were no newbies here. All five major candidates knew what they were signing up for, and all of them—win or lose— deserve our thanks for presenting us with a stellar slate of options from which to choose.
Thanks, too, to the field of candidates for the various city council seats. There were 23 of them on the ballot last week between at-large and districts 4 and 7, which we cover routinely.

Much of the post-mortem analysis has focused on the disappointment some feel because a Black mayoral candidate did not make the cut to advance to November. This, despite the fact that roughly 43 percent of the voters who bothered to participate chose a Black candidate—Andrea Campbell, Kim Janey, or John Barros. Other angsty critiques have focused more on the turnout, 25 percent, which was lower than many expected with an open seat.

Such examinations are fair game. Elections shouldn’t be just zero-sum competitions to pick the best person for a given position. Ideally, we should see them as a form of civic crowdsourcing. Candidates advance their policy positions, rivals dice them up or adopt them for their own. We in the electorate get to have our say and judge the candidates and their ideas. Even those who don’t make a big dent in the vote count— think John Barros— can contribute to the conversation and the direction of the next administration.

That’s why those who want to blame the outcome on a too-crowded field or a failed strategy of pooling ethnic support behind one candidate or another are missing a beat. The winning candidates last week were not long-shots who happened into the top two because someone else “failed.”

Councillor Wu, who topped the ticket with 33 percent of the vote, has been running for the mayor’s seat for a full year — some might say, even longer— and has routinely won more votes for citywide office than anyone else on the council. She’s become a known quantity to voters in all 255 precincts, as has her fellow finalist, Annissa Essaibi George, who finished in second place in the 2019 at-large balloting. Both women have painstakingly carved out a citywide constituency and, to no one’s great surprise, reaped the rewards last week.

Next up: We get to see how well they appeal to the 45 percent of us who didn’t vote for Wu or Essaibi George last week. Let the best woman win.

Bill Forry is the executive editor and publisher of the Reporter. Follow him on Twitter: @BillForry