Election 2013: The Next Boston Mayor May Be a Person of Color

Examining the Political Dynamics Surrounding Boston’s Future

Recently America experienced a tragedy which tested the spirit of the entire nation, but most especially the soul of one of our most charming cities—Boston. This is indeed a resilient city so there’s no doubt that this senseless act of violence will only serve as a catalyst for continued growth.  As Mayor Menino said, “this is Boston, a city with the courage, compassion and strength that knows no bounds.” 

As Boston manages the economic, cultural, and legal impact of the Marathon bombing, it is interesting to examine the political dynamics surrounding the race for the city’s next mayor. Boston’s population has increased significantly in the last ten years, growing 8% due to the arrival of foreign born “New Bostonians.

Historically of course, Boston has played a significant role in shaping American politics. In addition to the great thinkers shaping the birth of the nation, It’s was also a hotbed of the abolitionist movement. Take a tour of Boston and you can learn the early history of Progressive Whites and People of Color (POC) working together to make a better society. Visit the African Meeting House – the oldest surviving African American church edifice in the nation – to see where notables such as Fredrick Douglass and Sojourner Truth waged many early civil rights battles alongside progressive Whites.

A few days ago we saw President Obama, Attorney General Holder, Governor Patrick, and Mayor Menino lead Boston in unity after the marathon bombing. And, it is truly a new day when there are multiple POC candidates running for Mayor with a viable shot at victory.

Here are some statistics to consider:

  • There are 625,087 people living in Boston - 17% Latino, 24% African American, 9% Asian.
  • Of the total population, 414,335 people are citizens eligible to vote, and 161,000 of the voting eligible citizens (CVAP) are people of color.
  • There will be at least four city council members in the race for Mayor - a crowded field leaving plenty of open council seats.
  • The 2009 Mayoral race recorded about 110,222 votes – a relatively small universe of voters.
  • The 2011 at-large city council race recorded a little more than 175,191 votes.


There will be a lot of candidates running for Mayor and that may split the independent vote share at least 4 ways. It will be the Voter of Color who will make up the difference. There is a path to elect a person of color as Mayor with the right candidate, message, and a brilliant voter registration program.

Make no mistake, this is going to take a block by block community organizing effort but if given the information and the choice, Bostonians will vote for the candidate that represents their interests.