Boston ready for first Black Bostonian, woman to serve as city’s mayor

BOSTON — Mayor Marty Walsh’s nomination for Labor secretary by President-elect Joe Biden brings a new milestone in leadership to the city of Boston.

The Boston city charter specifies that the city council president steps in as active mayor should the role become vacant. This means Kim Janey could soon take the reins, becoming the first Black Bostonian and woman to serve as the city’s mayor. It’s an upcoming chapter in the city’s history that follows women of color winning office in record numbers in recent years.

“It lets us know that hope is still possible and that we have an opportunity to make our mark in the sand,” said Rev. Willie Bodrick II, Senior Pastor with Twelfth Baptist Church in Roxbury.

The historic Twelfth Baptist Church in Roxbury, once attended by Martin Luther King Jr., is recognizing what this means for the city moving forward.

Janey and her family are proud attendees of Twelfth Baptist Church. There’s even a ‘Janey room’ named after them inside the congregation.

“Kim Janey has been an advocate for education equity and has been fighting on the front lines for affordable housing,” said Bodrick. “To know the history of this city, which has had over 400 years without a mayor of color, it means the world.”Janey was elected to city council in 2017 and represents most of Roxbury and parts of the South End, Dorchester and Fenway.

News of her position potentially elevating in the coming weeks made its way around District 7 on Thursday afternoon.

“To have the first black woman ever is amazing. I am so elated and inspired,” said Geju Brown, a resident of an affordable housing building on the South End Roxbury line.

Geju Brown told Boston 25 News that Janey has been instrumental in standing up against a major rent hike that threatens to price her out of her housing community.

“She has come here to be with us and to help us speak up for the things that are wrong,” said Brown. “She empowers residents to have a voice, to stand up and to take control of their destiny.”

Janey released the following statement to Boston 25 News:

“I want to start by congratulating Mayor Walsh on his nomination for U.S. Secretary of Labor. His deep love for the City, and his dedication to working people and good jobs, have left a remarkable impact, and his legacy will show that dedication.”

“Should Mayor Walsh be confirmed by the Senate, I am ready to take the reins and lead our city through these difficult times. I look forward to working with the Walsh administration and my colleagues on the Council to ensure a smooth transition, as we address the unprecedented challenges facing our city.”

Janey would serve as mayor until the regular election in November. Two other women of color and council members – Michelle Wu and Andrea Campbell – have already announced they’ll be running.

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