BOSTON — Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu made it official Tuesday morning, announcing in a video she’s running for mayor in 2021.
In the video, released in three languages, Wu says she’s running to make Boston a city for everyone.
It’s been more than 70 years since anyone has won against an incumbent Boston mayor, but Wu is confident the city is ready for a change.
“When you serve in office and you have that responsibility to represent your constituents, you get to see those pieces of their lives that are their deepest dreams and struggles and hopes for their kids,” Wu said. “And I know the energy across every neighborhood of Boston is for change.”
Wu’s record has been a progressive one. She’s served in the city council for 7 years and was the first Asian American, and woman of color to serve as City Council president.
Wu has championed housing reform and called for the abolishment of the Boston Planning and Development Agency. Her “Green New Deal” for the city of Boston calls for citywide carbon neutrality by 2040, 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030, and a net-zero municipal footprint by 2024. And she has been very visible on issues of transportation-- posting photos of her commute with her two sons. Last year Wu joined other elected officials and transportation advocates in calling for roll back of MBTA fare hikes.
“We’ve seen that when city leaders speak up, you can make a big difference. I was part of a large coalition and cry across the city to push back MBTA fare hikes,” says Wu. “We need to see more leadership connected to actual of families.”
Wu on Housing
Wu’s dedication to family has been a driving force behind her career. A Harvard grad, after her mother began to suffer with mental illness, she took over the family while raising her own.
“This city has given my family everything we cherish. A stable home, a 2-family residence in Roslindale where my mom has a residence downstairs where my mom can wake up and have breakfast with her two grandsons every morning," says Wu. “My sisters have graduated from Boston schools and universities. And I know that we have is possible for every family to access those opportunities."”
The city’s housing crisis is the number one issue among her constituents and Wu has called for the abolishment of the Boston Planning and development Agency, like many mayoral candidates before her. But like her mentor, Elizabeth Warren says she has a plan for that; addressing the city’s dated zoning code that dates back to 1965.
“We need to have a true city planning department. Right now, planning and development has collapsed into one agency that is technically not in the city books. They operate independently to the city of Boston. They’re not subject to the same accountability or community impact and so we need to transfer all the property as well as the power back to city accountability,” says Wu.
Wu on Racial Equity in Boston
Wu is running on a platform of racial equity, inclusion and closing the wealth gap. Her announcement in three languages in her voice. A Boston Business Journal report shows less than 5 percent of all city contracts were held by minority companies and median net worth of black Bostonians is $8... and their white counterparts, $247,000.
Wu says the city is wasting an important opportunity to tap into talent. “When we were spending millions of dollars during this public health crisis, under emergency spending rules, not subject to any state regulations, out of those millions of dollars just one contract went to a Boston-based business of color. This is an opportunity to really align our values with our outcomes by putting taxpayer dollars to work n getting the most out of what we spend," Wu said.
After a summer of unrest and a resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, the City Council is focused on police reform, by issuing recommendations to the BPD from a special police task force. Some activists say it doesn’t go far enough and are calling on the city to defund the police.
Boston 25 News reporter Crystal Haynes asked Wu: “Is that something you’d consider? Reimagining the police. Talking about more transparency and funding within that department?”
“We’re not going to settle for Band Aids and breadcrumbs, we are gonna take on the big changes that will make a difference for this generation and the ones to come," said Wu.
Wu, who lives in the city’s Roslindale neighborhood, is a Chicago native and a graduate of Harvard Law School who was first elected to the City Council at-large in 2013. The daughter of Taiwanese immigrants became the first woman of color to serve as the city council’s president in 2016.
Speculation on Wu’s run was swirling after Wu called current Mayor Marty Walsh earlier this month to let him know she would be launching a bid for mayor.
At his press briefing Tuesday, Mayor Walsh, who was first elected in 2013, declined to comment on Wu’s announcement. When asked if he was running for a third term, Walsh said he’s focusing on the pandemic, and getting Joe Biden elected.
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