Boston’s mayoral race grabbed national headlines this week when Acting Mayor Kim Janey compared the requirement to prove vaccination to Jim Crow-era policies and childbirth. Janey has since responded to the comments, but not before candidate Andrea Campbell condemned them as “absolutely ridiculous.”
To break down this incident, along with several other highlights from the week in Boston politics, The fray Podcast co-hosts Peter Kadzis, GBH’s information policy editor, and GBH’s information policy reporter Adam Reilly, joined Aaron Schachter today on GBH’s Morning edition.
“Campbell was really smart to jump on this really quickly,” Kadzis said.
However, Reilly pointed out, despite the “inartificial” comparison, Janey’s comments were originally aimed at encouraging black residents to get vaccinated, a group whose vaccination rates in the city still lag at around. 45%.
“As she said, ‘let’s focus on vaccinating people and not getting them to show their papers.’ And I don’t know if that’s a political negative for her, ”Reilly said.
Kadzis said the comments ultimately couldn’t hurt his campaign. “I don’t think it will make a big difference to the people who were sympathetic towards her,” he said. “For the undecided voters, I think this becomes just another thing to weigh.”
Also this week, Janey announced a plan for mental health workers to answer certain 911 calls instead of the police. Kadzis called this a smart move.
“This is the perfect place where all mayoral candidates agree,” Kadzis said, noting that the plan is similar to the one candidate John Barros campaigned on.
“There’s a long history of whoever runs the city, takes the big ideas that city council members or political opponents have, and makes them a reality, and in the process, makes them their own,” Reilly said.
“That’s what happens when you’re mayor of Boston – you can play around with everyone’s ideas,” Kadzis added.
“Wu is still, I think in my opinion, the frontrunner, along with acting mayor Kim Janey.”
Annissa Essaibi George also made unflattering headlines this week when the Boston Globe ran reports that she may have broken ethics rules by using her office as a city councilor for the benefit of the real estate development firm of her husband.
Reilly said the details of the case may be more complicated than they appear, but ultimately optics matter to someone in Essabi George’s position. “The problem, I think, is that if you’re in a position where you’ve got potential tangles you’re a general councilor running for mayor, your husband is a developer, you probably need to keep some more space between you. – even and her interests than she did in this case, ”he said. “Otherwise, when people start to pay attention, it might seem a little sketchy. “
The other mayoral candidates – Michelle Wu and John Barros – have largely stayed away from the headlines this week. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
“Wu is still, I think in my opinion, the frontrunner, along with acting mayor Kim Janey,” Reilly said. “She and Andrea Campbell, it should be noted, both have over a million dollars in the bank. The next closest is Annissa Essaibi George, who owns two-thirds of it. So Wu is in a decent place. And Campbell is also set for a late push. ”