Ferriabough Bolling: Women of color make gains at ballot box

October 9, 2017 GMT

You can definitely call this primary election a watershed moment for African-American women.

In a race against 12 opponents for Tito Jackson’s District 7 City Council seat, Roxbury’s Kim Janey topped the ticket getting the lion’s share of the vote, 25 percent with her nearest competitor garnering 11 percent. A respected education activist from six generations of family activists, she is taking nothing for granted in her first run for political office and is doubling the effort she put forth in the primary. A single mother in a community with a sizeable single woman head of household population, if elected, she will be the first woman to hold the seat.

Accomplished immigration attorney Lydia Edwards, who headed Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s Office of Housing Stability, stunned the city with only 77 votes separating her from her nearest opponent, who raised twice a much as she did in the race for the District 1 council seat. Lydia won both East Boston and Charlestown, raising the specter that perhaps turf politics might possibly be waning or even a thing of the past in Boston.

Less attention has been paid to the mayor’s race in Framingham that could see the state’s first African-American mayor and only second woman of color to become a mayor in Massachusetts. A beloved teacher and Museum of Science executive, the spectacular Yvonne Spicer topped the ticket by nearly 3,000 votes over her nearest competitor, a state rep caught on tape tearing up her campaign signs, in her first race for political office.

But as the race tightens up ahead of the Nov. 7 final, these women hope that they do not find themselves dealing with strategies to ward off potential injections of race, gender and turf that too often have come to define the worst in politics, diminish robust debate over the issues and serve to divide us as a people at a time when we would benefit by working together toward common goals and new ways of accomplishing them.

The hope is that the electorate that catapulted them to the top will continue to see the enormous contributions and strengths that each brings, together with their records of service and their life’s work that has benefitted everyone without regard to race, gender or issues of turf.

Joyce Ferriabough Bolling is a political strategist and a communications specialist.