In radio interview, Essaibi George says being from Boston is ‘relevant’ in mayor’s race

An interview on GBH’s “Boston Public Radio” on Thursday sparked a back-and-forth between the two mayoral finalists, offering a potential preview of the distinctions they’re trying to draw ahead of Nov. 2.

Asked about differentiating herself from City Councillor Michelle Wu, City Councillor Annissa Essaibi George, a Dorchester native, pointed to the fact that she was born and raised in Boston. Wu, who lives in Roslindale, is originally from Chicago.

Both are the daughters of immigrants and have owned a small business. Wu, who has worked for the late Mayor Thomas Menino and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, was elected to the Boston City Council in 2013. Essaibi George has been a part of local civic groups and served as a youth coach.

Asked whether Wu’s Chicago roots should be a “relevant consideration” for voters, Essaibi George told “Boston Public Radio,” “Well, I think it’s relevant to me, and I think it’s relevant to a lot of voters — whether or not they’re born and raised in this city — because I’ve seen this city for many, many years.”

Wu took to Twitter with a response: “Reminder: The Mayor of Boston needs to lead for ALL of us.” She added, “I’m ready to fight for every resident—whether you’ve been here since birth or chose to make Boston your home along the way.”

She does not believe a voter should vote against Wu due to her Chicago roots, Essaibi George told the Reporter after her “Boston Public Radio” interview.

“It’s certainly not to say that someone who isn’t born and raised in this city can’t also do this work,” Essaibi George said. “But when asked what are the things that either draw distinctions between the two of us or have informed the way that I lead, or the way that I think it’s so important to be connected to our neighborhoods and to our city’s residents in a different way, all of those experiences along the way have made it such.”

The mayoral race, set to end Nov. 2, is a “campaign of distinctions,” Essaibi George continued.

“We’ve got two choices for who’s going to lead this city. My experience is from birth in this city. Daughter of immigrants who are not born in this city, who are not of this city,” Essaibi George said, referring to her Tunisian father and Polish mother. “That’s a distinction between me and Councillor Wu. And that’s a distinction on some of the platforms in which I’ve worked on, some of the ways in which I’ve engaged with our city’s residents and in the ways that I will lead this city as mayor.”

As she said in the radio interview, Essaibi George said she has been “underestimated” and “discounted.”

“I think there is an assumption by Councillor Wu and her campaign that this is a done deal,” she said. “And I will continue to draw distinctions on why I think I would be a better leader, and why, and how the things that I’ve experienced in my lifetime in this city have brought me to this point and have made me the right person to lead this city going forward.”