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Boston Mayoral Election Race Narrows, With Michelle Wu in the Lead

“We need real change, and that doesn’t come with just ideas or an academic exercise, that comes with hard work,” she said. “I don’t just talk, I work. I do. I dig in and get to it. It’s how my parents raised me. It’s how this city made me.”

She went on to poke holes in two of Ms. Wu’s signature platforms, to cheers from the crowd. “Let me be clear,” she said. “The mayor of Boston cannot make the T free. The mayor of Boston cannot mandate rent control. These are issues the state must address.”

Ms. Essaibi George’s supporters, who gathered on a Dorchester street corner on the eve of the election, wearing her campaign’s trademark hot pink T-shirts, were mostly white, and named public safety as a top concern. Robert O’Shea, 58, recalled “Dirty Water,” the 1965 pop ode to the polluted Charles River and its “lovers, muggers and thieves.”

“Well, when that was written, nobody wanted to be here,” he said. “Look what it is now. I’ve seen this city grow so much, I can’t afford to buy the house I live in.”

Mr. O’Shea said he was not hostile to Ms. Wu, or what he called “all this progressive stuff.”

“It’s all great, though the socialism aspect of it kind of scares me a little bit,” he said, noting that several of his relatives are Boston police officers. “But people need to be safe. People need to feel safe in their homes before they can save the world.”

One reason Boston may prove more receptive to progressive candidates is that it is a very young city, with roughly one-third of its population between the ages of 20 and 37.

Its manufacturing jobs have mostly vanished, making way for affluent, better-educated newcomers, “people who may read The Times but don’t necessarily go to church,” said Larry DiCara, 72, a former Boston city councilor. And it was not jolted by a rise in violent crime over the summer, something that probably shifted votes in New York toward Eric Adams, the Democratic mayoral nominee.

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