Botwc Firsts

Kim Janey Set To Become The First Black Person To Serve As Boston’s Mayor

Kim Janey Set To Become The First Black Person To Serve As Boston’s Mayor

Redefining the political landscape!

Kim Janey is set to be the first Black person to serve as mayor of Boston, the Boston Globe reports. 

Recently, President-elect Joe Biden selected Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh to become a member of his Cabinet. Walsh's selection means that City Council President Kim Janey could potentially become the next mayor of the city, making history as the first Black woman and person to hold the title. City rules state that if Walsh resigns to fulfill his cabinet position as labor secretary, he will be replaced by the council president, a title Janey has held since 2019. Janey would then serve as acting mayor until a new city election.

A staunch advocate for equality and justice, Janey ran her campaign for City Council with those values in mind. During her three years as a council member, she has been an essential part of pivotal moments in the city. She's lead pertinent policy discussions, a committee with the greatest number of women and people of color in the city's history, reformed public safety, and implemented health and education programs. She has often been on opposite sides of the fence as Mayor Walsh, advocating for more authority on behalf of the council to help develop housing and economic policies. 

Janey is responsible for developing the city's first ordinance choosing potential marijuana operators and working with protestors this past spring to create a "Black and Brown Agenda" to serve under-resourced communities. If Walsh leaves after March 5th, Janey will serve as acting mayor until the November election. If he leaves before, a special election will be held within 120 to 140 days of his departure. 

Janey raised her family in Roxbury, and this is her second term as a council member. Her parents were both educators, and she is the former project director at Massachusetts Advocates for Children. The councilor considers her Roxbury neighborhood "ground zero" for many of Boston's major issues, including racial and economic inequity, the affordable housing crisis, an opioid epidemic, and a transportation issue that has left city traffic in shambles. If she steps into the role of mayor, many of the community members will support her.

"Every mayor of this city has been a white male. [Janey] is no novice to politics, and she's not new to the community," Michael Curry, president of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, said. 

Political strategist Wilnelia Rivera echoed Curry's sentiments, saying, "I think this is a moment that represents a lot for that particular neighborhood. I really look forward to seeing what it means to be a city led by Kim Janey." 

As mayor, Janey would tackle the current COVID-19 pandemic in Boston that has already claimed more than 1,000 lives in the city. She would also focus on addressing police misconduct and an economic downturn as a result of the pandemic. The last time a sitting mayor resigned in Boston was in 1993, former district councilor Thomas M. Menino using the opportunity to open doors for a line of candidates to win the job outright. Janey has not yet announced whether she will parlay her acting mayoral role into a full run for mayor if the option presents itself. The city of Boston will have to wait and see. 

"[If Walsh's appointment is confirmed by the Senate,] I am ready to take the reins and lead our city through these difficult times," Janey said in a statement.


Photo Courtesy of David L. Ryan/Boston Globe Staff