Kim Janey makes history as new acting mayor of Boston

Photograph of mayor Kim Janey.

After Marty Walsh, the now-former Mayor of Boston, was confirmed as the U.S. Secretary of Labor, now-former Boston City Council president Kim Janey became the first woman and the first person of color to act as mayor of Boston. 

Because the City Council President is next in line for the mayoral seat if the city’s mayor resigns during their term, Mayor Janey assumed her position at 9:01pm on Monday, March 22—one minute after Secretary Walsh submitted his letter of resignation after being confirmed to President Biden’s cabinet. A ceremonial mayoral swearing-in ceremony occurred on Wednesday, March 24.

Secretary Walsh and Mayor Janey have worked together and held planning sessions to make sure that the mayoral transition is smooth for Bostonians. 

On Monday, Secretary Walsh tweeted: “Congratulations on making history, @Kim_Janey. I know you are going to continue serving our city and supporting an equitable recovery from #COVID19. I am always here for you, my friend.” 

In response, Mayor Janey tweeted: “Congratulations on your confirmation, Secretary Walsh. You are a proud son of Dorchester who will bring our city with you to the @USDOL. The working people of America will benefit greatly from your passion. Now, we look ahead to a new day—a new chapter—in Boston’s history.”

Under the city charter, Mayor Janey is able to perform mayoral duties that are “not admitting of delay,” but can’t make permanent appointments. She can still perform many executive tasks, such as passing or vetoing ordinances that the Boston City Council has approved, and handling payroll.

This is not the first time Mayor Janey has made history; in 2017, she was the first woman ever to be elected to represent a district that includes Roxbury, as well as parts of the South End, Fenway, and Dorchester. She is also the first black woman to hold the title of City Council President in Boston after being selected in January 2020. 

In an opinion piece she wrote for the Boston Globe, Mayor Janey provides a bit of insight into her past.

She discusses her family’s six generations in Roxbury, having to endure racial harassment while Boston attempted to desegregate schools with busing, becoming a mom while in high school, and her work to promote equity in Boston Public Schools. Mayor Janey also addressed current racial disparities in Boston, how many of those disparities have been illuminated by the pandemic, and how her administration will work to combat them.

“I am ready to lead our city toward equity, justice, and joy,” wrote Mayor Janey. “That means leading a citywide economic recovery that is equitable—especially for the residents and small businesses hardest hit. I call on business leaders, nonprofit organizations, community activists, and those who have felt left out to join us in reopening and renewing every part of our city. You will always have an open door to City Hall.” 

Mayor Janey will act as mayor until the 2021 Boston mayoral race. She has not stated if she will run for mayor yet. 

Three Boston City Councilors who also happen to be women of color—Michelle Wu, Andrea Campbell, and Annissa Essaibi George—have already announced their candidacies. Former chief of economic development in Boston John Barros, North End Representative Jon Santiago, Michael J Bianchi II, and Dana Depelteau have already announced that they were running for the seat as well.


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