Michelle Wu sworn in as Boston’s first woman elected mayor

Steve LeBlanc
Associated Press

Boston — Michelle Wu was sworn in Tuesday as Boston’s first woman and first person of color elected mayor in the city's long history.

The swearing-in of the city's first Asian American mayor came two weeks after Wu won the city's mayoral election. Before Wu, Boston had elected only white men as mayor.

Michelle Wu raises her hand as she is sworn-in as Boston Mayor during a ceremony at Boston City Hall, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, in Boston. The election of Wu marked the first time that Boston voters elected a woman, or a person of color, to lead the city.

Wu, 36, takes over for a fellow Democrat — former acting Mayor Kim Janey — who was Boston’s first woman and first Black resident to serve in, but who was not elected to, the top post.

The swearing-in means Wu will now face the daunting task of trying to make good on a slew of ambitious policy proposals that were the backbone of her campaign.

To push back against soaring housing costs that have forced some former residents out of the city, Wu has promised to pursue rent stabilization or rent control. The biggest hurdle to that proposal is the fact that Massachusetts voters narrowly approved a 1994 ballot question banning rent control statewide.

Another of Wu’s top campaign promises is to create a “fare-free” public transit system. Wu has said the proposal would strengthen the city’s economy, address climate change and help those who take the bus or subway to school or work.

Like the rent control pledge, Wu can’t unilaterally do away with fares on the public transit system. Wu has said she would try to work with partners in state government to make each proposal a reality.

Wu, whose parents immigrated to the U.S. from Taiwan, grew up in Chicago and moved to Boston to attend Harvard University and Harvard Law School.

Wu, who has two small children, is Boston’s third mayor this year.

Michelle Wu raises her hand as she is sworn-in as Boston Mayor during a ceremony at Boston City Hall, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, in Boston. From left with Wu are her two sons Blaise and Cass, husband Conor Pewarski and Judge Myong J. Joun.

“I know that Boston is in good hands and I am so proud to call you Madam mayor,” Janey said moments before Wu was sworn in.

Janey had been president of the Boston City Council before taking over as mayor.

She rose to the top post on an acting basis when the city’s previous elected mayor, Democrat Marty Walsh, stepped down this year to become U.S. Secretary of Labor under President Joe Biden. Janey was sworn in March 24.

Janey attempted to use the status of the office in her run to replace Walsh, but she failed to garner enough votes to make it past the preliminary mayoral election that whittled the field down to two candidates — City Councilors Wu and Annissa Essaibi George.

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., second from right, sits with U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., second from left, as Boston Mayor Michelle Wu is sworn-in during ceremony at Boston City Hall, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, in Boston.

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, Democratic U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey and U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley attended the swearing-in.