By Dan Treacy
Boston University Press Service
Boston Mayor finalists Annissa Essaibi George and Michelle Wu attended a Mayor’s Forum Tuesday night, co-hosted by King Boston and the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts, and broadcast on NBC10 Boston and NECN.
Conversations, held separately with each candidate, were moderated by King Boston Executive Director Imari Paris Jeffries, Black Economic Council of Massachusetts President and CEO Segun Idowu, and NBC10 presenter Latoyia Edwards.
The forum focused heavily on issues of racial inequality, and both candidates spent a lot of time on their redress plans.
Essaibi George reiterated her commitment to invest $ 100 million in repairs, saying she would determine exactly how the money would be allocated after meeting with community members. “$ 100 million is a big amount, but it is quickly swallowed up,” Essaibi George said, adding that the money can impact years when the investment is “well done and well done”.
Asked about Boston residents who do not support the repairs, Essaibi George extended an olive branch. “I welcome them into these conversations to watch, observe and engage,” she said, saying that each person plays a role in “righting the wrongs of the past.”
Wu also pledged reparations for the black community, but she did not come up with a full dollar amount.
“In some ways it’s easy to pick a number,” Wu said, explaining that she “is committed to setting aside funds for black and brown-owned businesses” and deploying $ 200 million. housing stability and homeownership emergency relief dollars.
Wu explained that she wanted to sit down with community members and figure out where exactly the repair money would go before committing to a number.
“Without going through the process of truly understanding the scale and scope of the damage that we are seeking to repair, we will eventually fail,” Wu said.
Asked about her thoughts on allocating emergency relief funds to black-owned restaurants and businesses, Wu said the city needs to go further and also invest money to change the system and build infrastructure in the city. these communities in order to increase the number of these companies. “Boston’s future really rests on our shoulders right now,” Wu said, outlining the goals to create more opportunities for black entrepreneurs.
Wu also stressed the goal of overtaking cities such as Philadelphia and Chicago in terms of the dollar rate of municipal contracts awarded to business owners of color. She cited a study released in February that shows Boston allocated just 1.2% of all city contract dollars to black and Latino-owned businesses during Marty Walsh’s first term as mayor. .
Essaibi George also denounced the lack of black-owned businesses in Boston, saying “we’re basically starting from scratch” as part of planned efforts to increase the number of such businesses.
Tuesday’s forum came a day after the last town hall debate, in which Essaibi George and Wu argued over their positions on the MBTA, rent control and Mass. and Cass.
Early voting began on Saturday and continues through Friday, October 29, with election day now less than a week away from November 2.
The winner of next week’s election will be sworn in on November 16.