BOSTON — It’s history in the making as Boston’s most diverse City Council gets to work in 2020.
The 13-member council, comprised of eight women, one of whom is the first openly gay city councilor in Boston, and seven people of color, the group was sworn in on Monday and immediately began discussing how to tackle their agenda for the year.
“This is the most diverse city council in history, ever - ever - and it’s amazing,” said City Council President Kim Janey. “I am so thrilled, it is something that we should celebrate; representation matters.”
Janey was voted in to raucous applause in the chamber. For 2020, her vision begins with addressing Boston’s wage gap and housing inequality.
“We know that despite having this unprecedented economic boom, the construction industry, different corporations eyeing to make Boston their home in terms of headquarters; all of these wonderful great things that are happening in our neighborhoods, particularly in poor communities of color are being left out of the prosperity," said Janey.
The council’s first meeting coincided with a news release by immigration advocates accusing Boston Public Schools with sharing more than 100 student incident reports containing students’ personal information with U.S. immigration authorities since 2014.
“Boston Public Schools does not share information with federal authorities,” said Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. “We do not share information and we wouldn’t share any information on immigration status. It’s quite honestly no one’s business, I don’t even know if the school department has that information.”
Newly elected City Councilor Julia Mejia is a daughter of immigrants and became the first Latina to serve as a councilor by winning by just one vote in an incredibly close recount. Mejia has worked with undocumented families in Boston, helping her community stay safe and feel represented.
“My mom was undocumented for a period of time, I know what it’s like to live in fear,” said Mejia. “We need to do a lot better as a city to make people feel safe, and if we send our kids to schools, we need to know that they’re gonna come back home and there’s not going to be police officers or ICE officers waiting for them.”
Re-elected Ed-Chair Annissa Essaibi-George agrees with Mejia. “We need to make sure that our students are protected, that their information is protected,” said Essaibi-George.
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