Politics

Annissa Essaibi George jabs Michelle Wu in celebratory speech ahead of mayoral general election

"I want progress to be made — real progress — not just abstract ideas that we talk about."

Annissa Essaibi George speaks in front of a crowd at her election night party Tuesday in Boston. Nathan Klima for The Boston Globe

Boston’s two-person mayoral finale is already heating up.

Before the clock had even struck midnight on the preliminary election Tuesday, City Councilor Annissa Essaibi George drew several sharp, if implicit, contrasts with presumed general election opponent and fellow City Councilor Michelle Wu during a celebratory speech to supporters in Dorchester.

“Being a city councilor and having the opportunity to advocate for your passions is good, but let me be very clear about this: The mayor of Boston cannot make the T free,” Essaibi George said, targeting one of Wu’s trademark ideas and eliciting cheers and whistles from the Venezia restaurant audience.

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“The mayor of Boston cannot mandate rent control,” she continued, referring to another policy that Wu singularly supported during the preliminary race.

“These are issues the state must address in partnership, and I look forward to that partnership,” Essaibi George said. “We do not do and we cannot do this work alone.”

Though cast as the more moderate Democrat in the race, Essaibi George said Tuesday night that she does “not neatly fit in a box.” During the speech, the Dorchester resident and at-large city councilor suggested her priorities would be improving schools and parks, addressing Mass. and Cass, supporting small businesses, and public safety.

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However, she has stopped short of calling for the same degree of fare elimination on MBTA services as Wu and opposes rent control, which remains banned at the state level.

“I want progress to be made — real progress — not just abstract ideas that we talk about,” Essaibi George said.

“Boldness is about getting it done,” she later added. “Instead of just advocating and participating in academic exercises and having lovely conversations as mayor, I will do these things.”

Essaibi George’s comments come after Wu, who was perceived as the frontrunner in the preliminary race, largely avoided attacks from other candidates, who more often trained their sights on Acting Mayor Kim Janey in the heated race to be the other mayoral hopeful to advance to the Nov. 2 finale.

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While the official results are still being tallied, Janey and City Councilor Andrea Campbell said after polls closed that it appeared Wu and Essaibi George would be the two candidates advancing to the general election.

The only time Essaibi George mentioned Wu by name during her speech Tuesday was to congratulate the fellow city councilor on advancing and saying she looked forward to “exchanging ideas” over the next several weeks.

“I look forward to working in partnership with you for a better Boston,” Essaibi George said. “Campaigns serve a purpose.”

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