Will City Councillor Michelle Wu Be Boston's Next Mayor?
Boston, MA– Yesterday, The Atlantic profiled Boston City Councillor At-Large Michelle Wu, highlighting her quiet leadership style and her ability to get things done. Considering her success and her popularity with voters, The Atlantic suggests that Wu could be considering a run for mayor as early as 2021.
Wu, now 34, was elected in 2013 and is the youngest member serving on the city council. She served as its president from 2016 to 2018, the first woman of color to do so. Wu has been most vocal around issues of accessibility and government transparency. She made a strong case against raising MBTA fares during public hearings earlier this year, arguing that the government should explore other options for funding public transportation rather than increasing the financial burden on mostly working class families who rely on the T.
While the 6% train fare hikes were approved anyway (and will go into effect this summer), bus fares were not raised and will remain at the current rate for at least three years, which could be considered a victory for Wu. One of Wu’s priorities at the moment is making the Route 28 bus entirely free, as it primarily serves lower income areas including Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan.
Wu believes that public transportation should be free for all. The Atlantic referenced her op-ed piece in the Boston Globe: “‘Making the investment in fare-free transit would not only nourish our future, but also align with our history,’ Wu wrote in an op-ed in The Boston Globe, referencing the state’s establishment of the first public school, park, and library in the country.”
In addition to her efforts to promote equal access to transportation, Wu is also focused on environmentally friendly policies. Her resolution to support the national Green New Deal was passed by the City Council this month in support of local and national efforts to counter climate change. (Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey (D) is one of the primary sponsors of the bill in Congress, along with freshman congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), popularly known as AOC.)
Another win for Wu came with the latest regulations for short-term housing rentals in Boston. She was specifically targeted by Airbnb for her hardline stance that the short-term rental industry must be more heavily regulated in order to preserve housing affordability for local residents. The city of Boston and the state of Massachusetts have both issued new regulations for Airbnb and other short-term rental operators.
Wu represents the new kind of activist politician, and is one of many progressive women of color who have been elected to public office in a recent “Pink Wave”, including AOC and U.S. Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), formerly a Boston City Council member herself.
Mayor Marty Walsh has high approval ratings and was re-elected in 2017, but considering the impact of “The Pink Wave” in Congress, it’s possible that the people of Boston may be ready for a change of pace by 2021.
Image via Wikimedia Commons / Kenneth C. Zirkel