Who is Boston For?

Brendan Halpin
4 min readAug 13, 2021


For decades, and possibly even longer, Boston, like many cities, has been governed not for the benefit of the people who live here, but, rather, for the benefit of the people who use the city but don’t live here.

This is why our police have adequate ventilation in their stations and new cruisers, while many of our public school students don’t even have drinkable water in their schools. (True! Lead in the pipes! So the city pays a private company to supply 5-gallon water bottles that nobody is contractually required to actually put on the coolers!). To our leadership, the schools have long since ceased to matter because only non-wealthy people who live here use them. And we don’t matter.

This is why the parks department neglects Franklin Park: it’s not important because only people who live here use it. This is why we have streets like Morrissey Boulevard that are impossible to cross and terrifying to bike on: they help get suburbanites to work. And that matters.

I could give many more examples, but the point is this: the vision of the Walsh (and yes, even the St. Thomas of Menino) Administration is that Boston’s top priority will be suburban interests, and the wants, needs, and interests of residents will always come second.

This election gives us a chance to break out of this pattern. So let’s look at who is representing which suburban interests, shall we? We’ll consider the four serious candidates for Mayor. John Barros is clearly running for another cushy city job in the next administration, so we needn’t concern ourselves with him.

Annissa Essaibi-George

Suburbanites funding her campaign: Boston Police Officers

What they want: Keeping the unlimited pool of money flowing into their overtime budget so they can put in a pool in their house in Pembroke or buy another Jet ski to take to Winnipesaukee. The ability to continue beating, raping, and killing Boston residents with complete impunity.

What city residents want: Outside of West Roxbury, we’d like to stop spending so much money on police when so many other things in this city need funding. We’d like police who break the law to be held accountable for their actions. And we’d like this information to be public.

The cops are backing Essaibi-George because they’re confident she will act in their interest and against the interest of Boston residents. I agree.

Andrea Campbell

Suburbanites funding her campaign, via superpac Better Boston: The Education Privatizers!

What they want: The charterization of Boston Public Schools, the deprofessionalization of teaching, and, ultimately, a city in which education doesn’t happen unless public money is flowing into private coffers. But they might settle for unified enrollment because their numbers are dropping and the waiting lists they’ve used to justify their existence for decades mostly don’t exist anymore.

What city residents want: Definitely not more charter schools, as we showed by delivering a humiliating defeat to the ballot question to lift the cap on charter schools. 2016’s question 2 was defeated 61% to 39% in the City of Boston. But that won’t stop the ed privatizers, who are shoveling six-figure donations into the superpac in order to elect a mayor who will serve their interests over those of her constituents.

Kim Janey

Suburbanites funding her campaign: Developers!

What the developers want: Literally this building repeated on every block in the City of Boston:

This is Vita in Jamaica Plain, but it’s also every other one of these things

But that’s not all! They also want ever-increasing rents and real-estate values! (I know there are people who believe that doing as the developers want is the way to solve Boston’s housing crisis, and all I can say is if you believe that developers want to build these things so that their investment will become less valuable, you’re probably not safe out. I honestly don’t know how you make it to the corner without someone conning you out of everything you own.)

What city residents want: Rent control. Policy to stop real estate profiteering. A city that is racially and economically diverse, not a playground for young wealthy people where the workers that serve them have to commute in from Brockton because that’s the only place they can afford to live.

Developers are counting on Kim Janey to further their agenda at the expense of ours. I don’t see any reason to doubt their judgment.

Michelle Wu

Suburbanites funding her campaign: It’s pretty hard to make a generalization here. She’s got some developer money, some lawyer money, some hospital money, some university money, but paging through her big donations on OCPF, there’s hard to see a pattern here. Judging by the surnames, she seems to be drawing a fair amount of support from Chinese Americans in the Greater Boston area. And this isn’t a suburban donation, but, full disclosure, she gets a whopping ten bucks a month from me, so you know I’m getting a seat at the table!

Actually, I already had a seat at the table. I snarked at her on Twitter about school budgets, and she offered to meet with me and some other folks to talk about school funding. So, after a long day at City Hall, she took the T to Green St. and walked a mile to the JP Library to listen to a bunch of her constituents. She took copious notes and asked good questions.

So my bias is on the table, but please look through ocpf yourself and tell me if you see a pattern. As near as I can tell, Michelle Wu is the only candidate for Mayor of Boston who would not enter office immediately beholden to suburbanites with interests at odds with those of her constituents.

There are lots of other reasons, but this is one of the major reasons I’m voting for Michelle Wu. The cops, the developers, and the education privatizers clearly believe that Michelle Wu won’t put their interests ahead of her constituents’ interests. I think they’re right.