Nov 2, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Michelle Wu becomes 1st Asian American elected Boston mayor

Photo of Michelle Wu smiling and holding a microphone as supporters including Elizabeth Warren clap around her

Michelle Wu and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) at a rally in front of the Boston Public Library on Oct. 23. Photo: John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Progressive Michelle Wu defeated Annissa Essaibi-George to win Boston's race for mayor on Tuesday, becoming the first woman and Asian American elected to the office in Boston's nearly 200-year history.

Why it matters: The majority of Boston's residents today are people of color and they are flexing their political muscles as they are in other parts of the country.

  • The victory of Wu, who is also the first person of color elected to the post, is seen as a dramatic turnaround for a city that nearly 50 years ago experienced violent racial unrest over busing, Axios' Russell Contreras notes.

Of note: Kim Janey became the first woman and person of color to lead the city earlier this year when she was named acting mayor after Marty Walsh resigned from the post to serve as President Biden's Labor secretary.

Catch-up fast: Wu, the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, became the frontrunner after September's preliminary election.

Driving the news: The face-off between the two women of color drew attention as the historic nature of the race became clear.

  • Boston has been signaling the change from an Irish American-Italian American political machine stronghold for some time. In 2019, Boston elected the most diverse council in city history and the first with a majority of women.

The big picture: Wu will join a small but growing contingent of Asian American and Pacific Islander elected officials.

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