Michelle Wu was sworn in as Boston’s mayor on Tuesday, becoming the city’s first woman and first person of color to hold the position.
Kim Janey’s role has been taken over by Wu. According to reporters, Janey was Boston’s first female and first Black mayor, though she was not elected.
Marty Walsh stepped down from the position to become the United States Secretary of Labor under President Joe Biden.
After taking the oath of office, Wu stated, “City government is unique, we are the level closest to the people, so we must do the big and the small. After all, Boston was founded on a revolutionary promise: that things don’t have to be as they always have been. That we can chart a new path for families now, and for generations to come, grounded in justice and opportunity.”
Wu campaigned on promises such as rent stabilization and a fare-free public transportation system. Wu stated in a report that she would collaborate with partners in the state government to try to implement these proposals.
“It is not only possible for Boston to provide basic city services and generational change—it is absolutely necessary at this time,” Wu said. “By doing the little things right, we’ll be able to tackle our biggest challenges.”
Wu said that when she first stepped inside Boston City Hall, she felt swallowed up by the maze of concrete hallways, checkpoints, and looming counters—all reminders of why her immigrant family avoided such places. Her family’s struggles, she says, eventually led to an internship with then-Mayor Thomas Menino and, eventually, a seat on the Boston City Council, where she says she learned the ins and outs of city government and politics.
“Today, I know the passageways and stairwells of City Hall like my own home,” she said.
Wu will now face the daunting task of attempting to carry out a slew of ambitious policy proposals that served as the backbone of her campaign.
The most significant impediment to Wu’s rent stabilization proposal is that Massachusetts voters narrowly approved a ballot question prohibiting statewide rent control in 1994. Wu has stated that her proposal for fare-free public transportation would boost the city’s economy, address climate change, and benefit those who take the bus or subway to school or work.
Wu, like the rent control pledge, cannot unilaterally eliminate public transportation fares. Wu has stated that she will try to work with state government partners to make each proposal a reality.
Wu grew up in Chicago before moving to Boston to attend Harvard University and Harvard Law School after his parents immigrated to the United States from Taiwan. She is the mother of two young children.
Janey made a few brief remarks before Wu was sworn in, thanking the city for the opportunity to serve as mayor, even if only for a short time. “I know Boston is in good hands, and I am honored to call you Madam Mayor,” Janey told Wu.
Janey served as president of the Boston City Council prior to becoming the city’s second mayor this year.
Janey attempted to use the office’s status in her bid to replace Walsh, but she did not receive enough votes to advance past the preliminary mayoral election, which narrowed the field down to two candidates—City Councilors Wu and Annissa Essaibi George.
Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, Democratic U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey, and U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley were among those in attendance at the swearing-in ceremony.