John Barros launched his campaign to become Boston’s next mayor Thursday morning, becoming the fifth candidate in what’s shaping up to be a crowded race.
“We have a lot of challenges today, but I believe that we — that Boston— is ready for this challenge, and I’m ready to hit the ground running,” Barros, who resigned last week after seven years as the city’s economic development chief to enter the race, said Thursday morning.
“This is a campaign of all of us who want to make sure that Boston is the best city for everyone,” he said. “And so the Barros campaign is a big, big train. It’s a big, big bus. It is a big, big vehicle that’s going to bring us all to a better future here in Boston.”
Barros, who placed sixth in the 2013 preliminary mayoral race that eventually ushered Mayor Marty Walsh into office, kicked off his campaign Thursday morning with family and supporters at Restaurante Cesaria, a Dorchester restaurant that he operates. He joins city councilors Michelle Wu, Andrea Campbell, Annissa Essaibi George, and state Rep. Jon Santiago in the race, as Walsh prepares to become President Joe Biden’s secretary of labor.
Before serving as Boston’s first chief of economic development under Walsh, Barros served on the Boston School Committee and as the executive director of the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, a community nonprofit organization based in Roxbury. His campaign touted his work in revitalizing the neighborhood by establishing new schools, green spaces, community centers, commercial properties, and affordable housing.
“What sets me apart is the fact that, throughout my whole life, I have been serving my community,” Barros told reporters Thursday, pointing to his community organizing work as a teenager to his efforts to increase Boston’s stock of affordable housing.
“We were able to take complex situations and implement plans with residents guiding, leading, and planning the whole time,” he said.
Barros also said he was “proud” to be part of an administration that had a AAA bond rating for seven years and “that helped Boston through the pandemic in a very responsible way.” However, as a small business owner, he said he had a first-hand perspective on the devastating economic toll of the pandemic.
“These are tough times, and so, as I led the effort to help save Boston’s small business during the pandemic, I felt the pain,” Barros said.
The 47-year-old, whose parents hail from Cape Verde, was born and raised in Roxbury and now lives in Dorchester with his wife, Tchintcia, and their four children. Barros is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Tufts University, holding a bachelor’s in African and African American studies and a master’s in public policy.
Barros is the fifth person of color and second Black candidate to enter the race to be mayor of Boston, which has never elected a woman or person of color to lead the city.
“Boston’s ready for a Black man, like me, to be mayor,” Barros said. “You can feel it when you’re talking to people.”
State legislators and the Boston City Council passed a measure last week to skip the required special election, if Walsh leaves his post for Washington by this Friday, as it would be quickly followed by the regularly scheduled election in the fall. City Council President Kim Janey, who will serve as the interim mayor and the first Black woman to lead the city, is also speculated to join the race for a full term.
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