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Meeting The Candidates For Mayor Of Boston: Annissa Essaibi George16:08
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Boston City Councilor At-Large Annissa Essaibi-George. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Boston City Councilor At-Large Annissa Essaibi-George. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

The Boston mayoral primary is a little more than a month away on Sept. 14.

WBUR's Radio Boston will join WCVB, The Boston Globe and the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at UMass Boston to bring you a debate among the major candidates on Thursday, Sept. 9.

Ahead of the debate, we're inviting each candidate to our virtual studio to make their case to you. Here's our conversation with Boston City Councilor Annissa Essaibi George.

Interview Highlights

On why she's running now and what she brings to the race:
"I believe I'm the right person to lead this city at this moment based on my experiences as a city councilor and the work I've been able to accomplish on that body. But also my experiences as a small business owner, and, I think most importantly, my experiences in the classroom. I spent 13 years as a Boston public school teacher in East Boston High, and those experiences have certainly given me the ability to jump in the weeds when it comes to issues around educating our kids across the district.

"But it's also about showing up and being engaged as an at-large city councilor, building relationships with our city's residents in every neighborhood and being receptive, responsive and responsible to the needs they have. And that's my commitment as an at-large city council and will continue to be my commitment as mayor of the city."

On a vaccine mandate for city employees:

"The most important thing for us to be focused on as a city, whether it's for our city's employees (or) our city's residents, is to make sure that they have access to vaccination. We have to continue to work on that and make sure that we are getting shots in arms for all of our city's residents. And we need to make sure that we have continued access to testing. One thing that I've noticed is a very dramatic reduction in access to testing. So, yes, I agree with pushing vaccination and making sure that our city's residents and our city's employees have access to that vaccination. I don't agree with mandated vaccination."

On requiring masks in schools:

"I have absolutely no problem with the masks. I think we certainly have to think about students who can't wear masks, or various reasons it makes it difficult for a child to engage in their academics when there is a mask required. But I don't have a problem with that. Kids need to be in school Sept. 9 ... (the) first day of school. We need to make sure that we're doing all we can to ensure that that happens."

On allegations she improperly used her office to help her husband's business:

"This (housing) project was not my husband's project that was before the ZBA, and there was no reference to my husband's business. And if there had been, my staff, as they always would do, would have would have left the room and not participated in any deliberations.

"I've been on the city council for almost six years now, and my staff and I have been steadfast in our commitment to hold ourselves to the highest possible standard and to keep separation between his work and my work on the council.

"This happened here, and my staff, as they always do, took into the consideration the position of the district councilor, of other elected officials of the community — most importantly, the community ... and in this case, they were opposed. And as the neighborhood was opposed and the district councilor was opposed, my staff followed suit, as they always do, and also opposed that project.

"It wasn't until the Globe brought to our attention that it was a project that was immediately abutting a project that my husband had been involved in ... and that's when we reached out to legal counsel and have notified and are now working with the state ethics commission.

"I do recognize, though, as mayor I will be held to an even higher standard and my husband and his business will not be doing any new business here in the city of Boston."

On her plans for homelessness and addiction services in the Mass and Cass area:

"For me, it's about a continued commitment to serving those that are most vulnerable, working with the community who are greatly impacted by the challenges that happen at Mass and Cass, and making sure that we are focused on that issue ...

"We need to invest some additional dollars in getting people into supportive programs, decentralizing services at the Mass and Cass area, creating opportunities for longer term wellness, rebuilding the Long Island Bridge and investing in longer term programs, working towards family reunification where possible, and making sure that we're thinking about long term wellness when it comes to Mass and Cass."

This segment aired on August 12, 2021.

Tiziana Dearing Twitter Host, Radio Boston
Tiziana Dearing is the host of Radio Boston.

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Walter Wuthmann Twitter Associate Producer
Walter Wuthmann is an associate producer in WBUR's newsroom.

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