Competition for Latinos heats up as Boston heads towards election
Boston's Latino population now comprises just over 130,000 people - or 16% of all Latinos in the state of Massachusetts.

Boston mayoral candidate Michelle Wu holds a significant lead over her competitors in the city, even as many Latino voters remain undecided, according to a newly released poll.

According to a new poll from the Boston Globe and Suffolk University, Wu currently holds 31% of the vote.

The race for second place remains tight, with acting mayor Kim Janey standing at 20% and city councilors Annissa Essabi George and Andrea Campbell at 19% and 18%. Boston's former chief of economic development, John Barros, trails behind at 3%.

The poll, however, found that many Hispanic voters - 14 percent - remain undecided. Only 4% of white respondents said they were undecided.

Both Wu and Janey have sought support from Boston's growing Latino population.

Michelle Wu with Latino supporters in Boston. 

In a recent interview with LPO, Wu - a Taiwanese American who speaks Spanish fluently - said it was "huge' for her to win the support of prominent Latinos.

"There are many leaders in this group of amazing supporters that wear many hats, running organizations and really trying to work hard to make sure that not only is there community represented, but that the door is wide open for next generation interested," she said.

Endorsements from Latinos 'huge' as election looms, says Boston mayoral candidate

In mid-August, a group of over 100 Latino community leaders publicly endorsed Wu as part of the "estamos con Wu" campaign.

"I support Michelle Wu because she consistently promotes innovative and equitable policies that stem directly from the voices of Boston's diverse community members," Mario Paredes, a pro-immigrant attorney in Boston.

"She is repeatedly among the first [Massachusetts] policy makers to make bold and progressive positions on issues related to racial equity, housing, immigration, transportation, environmental justice and non-punitive public safety," Paredes added.

The Boston Globe survey reveals that education was found to be the issue cared about most by a majority of voters (20%), compared to housing (19%), racism and equity (17%) and jobs (14%).

Over the last few weeks, however, a number of prominent Latinos have announced endorsements of Janey.

Acting mayor Kim Janey addressing a crowd over labor day. 

Among them are the politically influential and well-connected Arroyo family.

"I know that Kim is somebody who shares my values and has also implemented those values in the work that she's doing as mayor," Boston city councilman Ricardo Arroyo was quoted as saying by local media.

Arroyo's father - Suffolk County Register of Probate Felix Arroyo - said that "Kim Janey has experience, over 20 years of advocating for the Latino community and the black community."

Another influential organization, the heavily Latino Boston chapter of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), also endorsed Janey. The organization represents nearly 6,000 largely Hispanic security officers, custodial officers, and others.

"Like our members, she has experienced racism, sexism and prejudice throughout her life, and she has used that lived experience to fight for justice," Rivera was quoted as saying by WGBH.

Despite growing population, Latinos remain underrepresented in Boston Politics

Before dropping out of the mayoral race, state rep. John Santiago - at one point the only Latino running for the position - also endorsed Janey.

An LPO source in Boston's City Hall said that the endorsements, however, seemed to be "too little, too late" for Janey.

"Those poll numbers speak for themselves, it's going to be Wu," he said. "This isn't about identity politics only."

Boston's Latino population now comprises just over 130,000 people - or 16% of all Latinos in the state of Massachusetts. By 2035, the figure is expected to rise to more than 1.15 million, representing 15.3% of the state's population.

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