WorldThe 'millennial' that made history by conquering Boston City Hall

The ‘millennial’ that made history by conquering Boston City Hall



Michelle Wu believes that “anything is possible”. That’s what he said Tuesday night in English, Mandarin, Spanish and French. He wanted to include everyone in his speech for his victory in the Boston elections. Wu, 36, the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, a Harvard-educated lawyer and mother of two public school students, became the first woman and first non-white person to achieve the position of mayor in this 200-year-old, proud county of their traditions. With her fresh, direct style and broad smile, she represents a historic slap on those traditions: her fellow citizens have never elected a person born and raised far from the Massachusetts capital (she is from Chicago, the eldest of her four siblings). He is also the youngest person to hold the position in over 100 years.

Pushed by the support of millennials leftists and by Asian, Latino and black voters, Wu, a protégé of Senator Elizabeth Warren, comfortably defeated Councilor Annissa Essaibi George in an election whose count is still ongoing (the most reliable projections give her 64% of the vote). Both are in the Democratic orbit, and both qualified for the race in a primary election that selected the most voted, regardless of party.

Wu’s progressive message, one of the rare good news for Democrats on a Tuesday that was particularly bad for them (they said goodbye to the Virginia government and were about to lose in their New Jersey fief), promised universal child health, public transportation. free, rent control to curb gentrification, and an aggressive municipal-wide green pact. With these proposals, his candidacy during the long election campaign in Boston (22nd largest city in the US, with 700,000 inhabitants) became synonymous with the fact that another way of doing politics is possible.

On the night of the victory, the winner appeared surrounded by a dozen of her volunteers. They carried purple posters that simply said “Wu!”, a syllable that incited mobilization in a changing city and that, like many others in this country, has registered demographic changes with obvious political consequences: in one of the regions with the most immigration influence (especially Irish) in the East Coast, the percentage of African-American population rose from 40% in 1990 to 53% in 2017.

The Asian-American segment is, in turn, the fastest growing electorally in the United States, although it is still clearly underrepresented. Of the country’s 100 largest cities, only 7 have mayors belonging to this ethnic group, according to the Asian-Pacific-American Institute of Parliamentary Studies.

In her presentation on the Boston City Council website, where she worked for eight years, the new mayor defines herself as follows: “Due to her past as a restaurant owner, legal advisor and tutor to her younger sister, Wu knows her from close to the barriers that families and communities need to face”. With that message of proximity, he conquered a city impatient to solve the most pressing problems: appointing a new chief of police, renewing a faulty educational system, and stemming the opiate Pandemic, particularly acute in the Massachusetts capital.

Essaibi George, his competitor, represented a more continuous face of municipal politics. He based his campaign on centrist pragmatism and repeatedly accused Wu of winning sympathies on the basis of unfulfilled promises. He had the support of the Irish trade unions and working classes, as well as the backing of the previous mayor, Martin J. Walsh, who stepped down after serving for eight years to work in Joe Biden’s Administration as secretary of labor. For that reason, Wu’s inauguration was brought forward from January to next Saturday.

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