Ti-Hua Chang, AsAmNews Contributor
Michelle Wu is officially the Mayor of Boston.
“The first time I set foot in city hall I felt invisible. But today I see what is possible in this building and I see all the public servants raising us up. Frontline workers, first responders, teachers, bus riders, building inspectors, … I am deeply honored to work alongside you… I ask everyone to join us in the service of our communities,” the 36 year old said in her inauguration speech.
Wu is the first woman, and the first person of color elected Mayor of Boston after 199 years of elected white male Boston mayors. She is also the first Asian American elected mayor of a major American city. She won with a mandate of 64% of the vote. Wu is accustomed to being a trailblazer. In 2014 she was the first Asian American woman elected to Boston’s city council, and in 2016 was elected the first Asian American President of the council.
Her inauguration had a celebratory atmosphere. She received a standing ovation when she walked into the Boston City Council chambers, where she was sworn into office by Judge Myuong Joun with her husband and two young sons by her side. There were cheers, a half dozen more standing ovations and a dozen rounds of applause in the half-hour ceremony. Her inauguration was filled with a diverse audience of all races, genders and ages, in keeping with the Wu “Boston for all” theme.
Are expectations too high for the Harvard-educated rising political star? Mahdi Ali, a Boston community activist, who campaigned for Wu, believes she will live up to her promise.
“She is for us. Not for other people…she is our voice,” Ali said.
Mayor Wu is a progressive Democrat who has long championed causes like a Boston Green New Deal, food justice, free public transit to reducing the police department budget by 10% and having nonviolent 911 calls handled by trained unarmed health professionals. Atlantic Magazine dubbed her an effective politician having proposed legislation that became law such as: refusing business to health companies that discriminate against transgender people. Wu is known to be congenial and always well prepared for negotiations.
Helen Ji Li, a Wu supporter who says her daughter plays with Wu‘s sons, noted Wu had a sincerity rare for a politician.
"We both really appreciate multilingual, multiracial multi-generational communities,” Li told AsAmNews. “That resonates with my values.”
US Senators Warren (D-MA) and Ed Markey (D-MA) attended the inauguration promising to support her progressive efforts. Wu worked for and is considered a Warren protegee. But Republican Governor Charlie Baker, who also attended, has publicly stated he will not support Wu’s calls for rent control, which requires state approval. (Wu actually asked for the less strict rent stabilization.) Baker also said non-Bostonians should not have to pay for the city’s free mass transit as Wu has proposed.
AsAmNews asked Wu if her being mayor of Boston indicated that Asian Americans must now be reckoned with as a political force in American politics. Wu, who consistently says she will serve all Bostonians, responded:
“That was true before my election and before today. We are in a moment in this city and this country where we have no time to waste. Every single person every single community, needs to be part of shaping our future. And I am so proud and honored to be part of the Asian American community as a strong community here in Boston with such deep history in our communities and to make sure that we are continuing to open the doors across the country.”
Mayor Wu says she will be focusing on the opioid epidemic in one Boston neighborhood and she will use federal infrastructure monies to insure there is more affordable housing, and to recover from the pandemic.