Michelle Wu emerged victorious from the Boston mayoral election on November 3rd. She defeated competitor Anissa Essaibi George (a Democrat like Wu) in a landslide, garnering 64.2% of the total vote. Wu’s win is historic, making her the first woman and first woman of color to be elected mayor of Boston; Kim Janey, appointed acting mayor in March 2021, was the first Black woman to fulfill the role.
Born in Chicago to Taiwanese immigrant parents, Wu has a substantial political career in the Boston area. She first came to the Boston area to attend college, earning her bachelor’s from Harvard before going on to graduate from Harvard Law School. She worked in the administration of Mayor Thomas Menino and on the campaign staff of Senator Elizabeth Warren, one of her Harvard Law professors. She served on the Boston City Council from 2014 to 2021, the first Asian American woman elected to the body. She was City Council President for two years (January 2016 to January 2018).
In her acceptance speech on election night, Wu thanked her supporters (dubbed the “Wu Train”) and outlined some of her plans for the city. Wu is a progressive, and echoed some of the policies of her mentor, Senator Warren. Some of her promises include rent control, adopting Green New Deal guidelines, and tackling the city’s homelessness problem. The last issue is particularly sensitive, coming off the heels of the city’s cleanout of a homeless encampment known as Mass and Cass (named for the intersection it covered). Wu vowed to tackle homelessness in Boston with a combination of affordable housing, mental health support, and substance abuse services.
Wu’s election signals a shift for Boston. As the first non-white man to win the seat, it indicates demographic changes. She won 19 of the 22 wards, and as an analysis from the Boston Globe points out, easily swept many of the neighborhoods where former Mayor Marty Walsh only won narrowly. Many of her bastions of support were neighborhoods primarily inhabited by people of color. At 36, Wu is the city’s first millennial mayor, and represents the political voice of a younger generation. The widespread support she received suggests the city may be willing to embrace progressive politics. It remains to be seen if the Wu administration will be able to deliver on its promises for sweeping change.
Wu will be sworn into office on November 16th.