BOSTON (CBS) – “I’m ending my campaign for mayor,” State Rep. Jon Santiago (D-South End) declared in a Twitter video Tuesday morning, surprising few and proving that he can read political handwriting.
For Santiago – and potentially, fellow back-of-the-pack candidate John Barros, the former Walsh administration economic development chief who told WBZ News Tuesday he’s not getting out – there’s no mistaking the message of the polls.READ MORE: Body Believed To Be Missing Man Kevin Mahoney Found In Water Off Newburyport
A whopping 65 percent of Bostonians surveyed late last month by Suffolk University for the Globe said it was very or somewhat important to elect a mayor of color this fall. Only 34 percent said it was not very or not at all important. And they want it to be a woman, by an identical 65 to 34 percent margin.
As Santiago put it: “The people of Boston have made it clear, and I look forward to supporting the first elected woman of color to lead Boston.”
But the four women of color running – City Councilors Andrea Campbell, Annissa Essaibi-George and Michelle Wu and Acting Mayor Kim Janey – are not alike. And as Suffolk pollster David Paleologos notes: “Policy issues will now begin to delineate the undecideds and who they prefer.”
“There are major distinctions,” Campbell told WBZ. Among them, how she’d handle the Boston Police, by “reining in a ballooning overtime budget and reinvesting those dollars into the root causes of violence, which of course police alone can never deal with by themselves.”READ MORE: Volunteers Gather To Clean Up Trash In Boston's Muddy River
But in a WBZ interview, Wu says that’s a slogan, not a policy. “Just to say that we should cut the budget by playing a sleight of hand through the overtime line item leaves us in a worse place overall,” she warned.
Meanwhile Essaibi-George has carved out a niche as the field’s most pro-cop candidate, branding that lifted former cop Eric Adams to a primary win this month in the New York City mayoral race.
And what about Acting Mayor Janey, who is, by the way, the acting mayor?
Says Paleologos: “that is the one delineation that she has over her opponents, she is the mayor, she is the acting mayor.”MORE NEWS: Attleboro Animal Shelter Says Driver Deliberately Ran Over 5 Geese On Route 123
Crime and police reform may or may not be deciding issues here come the fall; that Suffolk poll ranked it fifth among the issues voters found most pressing. But whatever issues this race turns out to be about, the candid acknowledgement by Santiago that it’s in part about electing the city’s first female mayor marks a moment for sharpening focus on the real differences between these women.