Members of the African and Muslim community say they feel snubbed by Michelle Wu Zoom on Boston City Hall forum from the car
Wu’s rival Annissa Essaibi George attended in person and spoke mostly for herself after Wu, appearing on a Zoom-connected TV, left the event halfway due to a dispute schedule.
Abdikarim admitted that Wu had previously agreed to participate for only half an hour. But he said he was caught off guard days before the event when his campaign said she would not be attending in person and rushed to greet Wu on Zoom.
With candidates juggling so many forums, community events, and canvassing, it’s impossible for them to attend all of the events. Candidates participated in at least two other forums that day. Among other events on each candidate’s agenda, Wu attended a rally with Senator Elizabeth Warren and State Senator Sonia Chang-DÃaz outside the Boston Public Library.
But some members of this African Muslim and immigrant community say they wished Wu had given them priority, especially if she was courting their vote.
“She just told us that she didn’t need us,” said Hussean Fiin, a local community leader and Dorchester resident, who said he approached Wu when running for re-election as general counsel in 2019.
Wu participated in the forum long enough to present herself and answer three questions on housing, education and simplifying the bureaucratic process for small business owners who don’t speak English.
Essaibi George was then able to answer the remaining questions without any time constraints, and to engage in an intimate dialogue with the audience.
Some questions Wu forgot concerned issues specific to the Muslim community, such as difficulty in parking near mosques during major prayer services, hours reserved for women in public swimming pools and gymnasiums, official recognition and days leave for Muslim holidays.
Mothers who attended told community leaders that they wanted to hear Wu explain why the local schools don’t have the same resources as the city’s exam schools.
When a community member asked Essaibi George during the forum how they could trust that she wasn’t just there make false promises she said she was only making promises she intends to keep. She cautioned against making unrealistic assurances, an apparent reference to Wu’s idea of ââfree transportation, which Essaibi George has repeatedly criticized.
Wu was not there to defend his plan.
The situation left an unflattering impression, some members of the community said. Several people who expressed their disappointment did not wish to be named.
With just days before election day, being able to meet and communicate with candidates in person does a lot for many voters in communities that often feel ignored, they said.
âIt is insulting to us that she is sitting in a car,â said Fiin.
Disappointment highlights how quiet moments can influence individual votes, even so late in the campaign.
Fiin, for example, said ahead of Saturday’s event that he knew little about Essaibi George. Now he said he convinced his entire family of six to vote for her. Even his progressive-inclined children, who were planning to vote for Wu, are now considering his rival, Fiin said.
âIn this democracy, we will certainly speak in the voting booth,â he said.