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Boston mayoral candidates meet up in first one-on-one debate

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Boston mayoral candidates on police reform
Boston mayoral candidates on police reform 09:57

For the first time, Boston voters will be deciding between two women for their next mayor, and both women took to the stage Wednesday night for the first one-on-one debate of the election. 

Both mayoral candidates, Annissa Essaibi George and Michelle Wu, the top two vote-getters in the September preliminary contest, are Democrats and city councilors — with moderator Jon Keller saying at one point "I'm not hearing a distinction between you two." 

The candidates stuck to the issues and stayed away from personal attacks on Wednesday.

Wu touted some of her big-name endorsements, including from Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley and current Mayor Kim Janey. A new poll conducted by MassINC Polling Group for The Dorchester Reporter, the Boston Foundation and WBUR found Wu leading the race by 30 points — 52% to just 22% for Essaibi George. 

Wu drew more than 10,000 votes than Essaibi George in the preliminary and topped the at-large council ticket the last two times she ran, according to CBS Boston.  

As the underdog, Essaibi George tried to be more aggressive in the debate, highlighting her work on homelessness and accusing Wu of being in favor of "rent control." She touted her endorsements by police unions and first responders, and accused Wu of supporting "defunding" the police.

Wu pushed back, saying she is the only candidate who has put forward a plan to deal with police union contracts. 

Boston has never had a mayor who was not a White man, so the race will be make history no matter who wins. Wu's parents immigrated to the United States from Taiwan, and Essaibi George is the daughter of Tunisian and Polish immigrants. 

If elected, Wu, who is from Chicago, would be the first mayor not born in Boston since 1925. Wu first moved to Boston to attend Harvard University and Harvard Law School, where she studied under Senator Elizabeth Warren, then a law professor, according to CBS Boston

Essaibi George grew up in Dorchester and taught in the Boston Public Schools system. Her father immigrated to the United States from Tunisia in 1972. Her mother, who is of Polish descent, was born in a displaced persons' camp in Germany.

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