Mayoralty Of Michelle Wu

Michelle Wu has served as mayor of Boston, Massachusetts since November 2021.

Wu was elected mayor in 2021, winning with 64% of the vote, becoming the first woman, first person of color, and first Asian American elected to serve as the mayor of Boston. At 36 years of age, was also the youngest individual elected to the office in nearly a century. Wu is a member of the Democratic Party. Prior to being sworn in as mayor, Wu served as a member of the Boston City Council

Michelle Wu
Mayoralty of Michelle Wu
November 16, 2021 – present
← Marty Walsh
Kim Janey (acting)
Mayoralty Of Michelle Wu

An advocate for a municipal "Green New Deal" (the Boston Green New Deal), as mayor Wu signed an ordinance to divest city investments from companies that derive more than 15 percent of their revenue from fossil fuels, tobacco products, or prison facilities. She also has announced plans for the city to spend $2 billion on school construction projects as part of a "Green New Deal" for the city's public schools. As mayor, she has also taken actions related to increasing affordable housing in the city and took actions related to address city's COVID-19 pandemic. A supporter of fare-free public transportation, Wu has funded a two-year period of fare-free service on three MBTA bus routes, expanding on a single-route pilot program that had previously been started under Kim Janey's preceding acting mayoralty. Wu signed an executive order which outlined the formula for what funds developers building in the city's downtown must contribute to fund child care services in the city, building upon a decades-old policy that had previously lacked needed specificity. Wu also reached a contract agreement with the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association that secured the union's agreement to significant reforms within the Boston Police Department.


Mayoralty Of Michelle Wu 
Wu campaigning for mayor in September 2021
Mayoralty Of Michelle Wu 
Wu participating in the 2021 Roxbury Unity Parade

Primary election

Wu had long been viewed a future mayoral prospect, fielding questions about whether she'd consider one day running as far back as 2016. Since at least 2019, Wu was viewed as a potential challenger to incumbent mayor Marty Walsh, if Walsh sought reelection in 2021. In September 2020, Walsh told The Boston Globe that Wu had told him of her intent to run in 2021. Later that month, Wu announced her candidacy, declaring that she was running a "people-powered campaign to bring new leadership to Boston's executive office".

Walsh was designated by President-elect Joe Biden to be his nominee for Secretary of Labor on January 7, 2021, leaving the mayor's race an open seat. Senator Elizabeth Warren endorsed Wu for mayor two days later.

In April, an analysis by The Boston Globe found that, of the six major candidates then-running, Wu had received the least financial contributions from real estate developers. Andrew Martinez of Bisnow related this to Wu's plans to abolish the Boston Planning & Development Agency.

Wu's primary election campaign was seen as possibly being boosted by a collection of young internet activists who had vigorously supported her campaign, referred to as the "Markeyverse" due to their support for Senator Ed Markey in his successful re-election campaign the previous year. She was endorsed by a number of progressive groups, including #VOTEPROCHOICE

By September 2021, Wu was widely considered to be the front-runner in the nonpartisan primary election, with a significant polling lead. Her campaign emphasized "wonkery" (policy details), in a manner resembling Wu's mentor Elizabeth Warren.

General election

Wu placed first in the nonpartisan primary and advanced to the general election, where she faced fellow city council member Annissa Essaibi George.

On September 25, Acting Mayor Kim Janey, who placed fourth in the nonpartisan primary, endorsed Wu for the general election.

Wu was viewed as the front-runner in the general election campaign, with advantages in endorsements, including from cultural groups, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, both of Massachusetts' U.S. Senators (Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren), and the editorial board of The Boston Globe.

Ellen Barry of The New York Times characterized Wu as having benefited as a candidate from her years of engagement with the city's residents as a city councilor. She opined that Wu's work while on the City Council had introduced her to many of the city's voters and that Wu was, "difficult to caricature as a radical."

On November 2, 2021, Wu won the election with over 64% of the vote, becoming the first woman and first person of color to become mayor of Boston. Wu won sizable margins among various demographic groups, leading her victory to be characterized as one with a multiethnic coalition. Wu was sworn in on November 16, 2021.

At 36 years of age, Wu was the youngest person elected mayor of Boston in almost a century.

Platform and campaign positions

In both the primary and general elections, Wu ran on a progressive-oriented agenda. Wu's mayoral platform included her previously outlined proposals for a municipal Green New Deal, fare-free public transit, abolishing the Boston Planning & Development Agency, implementing a food justice agenda, and her previously declared support to reinstate rent stabilization. In her campaign, Wu also supported restructuring the Boston School Committee (which is currently all-appointed since mayoral control of schools was adopted in Boston in the 1990s) to be majority-elected. Wu also called for the creation of the Teacher Advisory Board, and the empowerment of the Boston Student Advisory Committee. Wu proposed implementing universal preschool and universal child care for Boston children under five years of age, and for the creation of a city office to coordinate early childhood education. Wu's police reform plan reiterated her earlier calls for the diversion of nonviolent 9-1-1 calls away from police and instead to alternative response teams such as mental health clinicians, social workers, and community outreach workers. After a king tide caused Morrissey Boulevard to become flooded in November 2020, Wu reiterated support for a municipal Green New Deal and for accelerating city government timelines for carbon neutrality and exclusive renewable energy usage in the city at a meeting with activists along the thoroughfare.

Transition into office

Mayoralty Of Michelle Wu 
Wu (left) and her acting predecessor, Kim Janey, in January 2023

Wu had a shorter transition into office than most mayors of Boston due to the fact that there was no permanent incumbent mayor at the time of the election. Under Boston's city charter, in such circumstances, new mayors are sworn in as soon as is conveniently possible after the results of the election are certified. Before the election, on September 24, candidates Wu and Essaibi George had met with Acting Mayor Janey at the Francis Parkman House and mutually agreed on November 16 date as a tentative date for a transition of power for the mayoralty. Wu would ultimately take office as mayor on that planned date. This meant that she had only a two-week period between her election and assumption of office.

After Wu won election, she named Acting Mayor Janey as honorary chair of her mayoral transition team. The co-chairs of the transition were former state representative and city housing chief Charlotte Golar Richie; former Massachusetts secretary of administration and finance (and 2018 Democratic gubernatorial nominee) Jay Gonzalez; and activist Mimi Ramos. Among the transition's numerous advisors was Julian Agyeman.

With Wu vacating her City Council seat before the end of her term in order to assume the mayoralty, by Boston City Charter, the opportunity to serve the remainder of the term Wu had been elected to in 2017 was to be offered to the first runner-up of the 2017 election. In this instance, that was Alejandra St. Guillen. Initially planning to accept the opportunity to serve the remainder of Wu's term, due to ethics concerns about matters such as St. Guillen also holding on the city's cannabis board, St. Guillen ultimately declined to accept the position. Thereafter, per the Boston City Charter, the remainder of Wu's term was offered to Erin Murphy, who was the second runner-up in the 2017 election. Murphy accepted the opportunity. Murphy had recently won election to a full term in the 2019 at-large city council election, and thus would only be starting her tenure on the City Council earlier by accepting. Murphy was sworn in by Mayor Wu on December 1, 2021.

Relationship with the Boston City Council

Mayoralty Of Michelle Wu 
Wu (left) in 2022 at Boston's 22nd Annual Street Festival with Congressman Stephen Lynch (center) and City Council President Ed Flynn (right)

Since the membership of the City Council that took office early into Wu's mayoralty also leans progressive, there have been many matters that as mayor that Wu has been able to agreeably partner with the City Council on many matters. In addition to this, she has generally prevailed in the instances where she and the City Council have been at odds. Her ability to win out over the City Council when they are in disagreement has come despite the fact that there were some expectations when Wu took office that the city government's balance of power would tilt less towards the office of the mayor than it had for previous mayors. This expectation had been created by the fact that the City Council elected in 2019 was to be legally more powerful than previous City Councils, being granted much greater power over the city budget by a recently adopted ordinance, as well as the fact that its membership held diverse viewpoints and had many freshman members who were devoid of existing loyalties to other politicians. Emma Platoff of the Boston Globe has credited Wu's ability to frequently prevail on matters that she and the City Council are not aligned on to Wu's own "political savvy", the strong legal power afforded to mayors of Boston, internal divisions on the City Council that give the body a weaker negotiating position, and the inexperience of new council members.

The 2023 Boston City Council election was seen as a test of Wu’s political influence in the city, with her endorsing four candidates. The election was also seen as having genuine potential to shift the council's ideological balance, with there being a possibility of a less-progressive council being elected. Instead, progressives saw a strong result and retained their supermajority. In what was seen as a major political victory for Wu, all four of her endorsed candidates won their races. Three of these four candidates are regarded to be acolytes of Wu due to their past experiences working under her. Additionally, the election saw two of Wu’s strongest critics on the council unseated from their district seats due in large part to personal controversies each suffered. One of the four successful candidates that Wu had endorsed as a challenger to one of these critics. The result of the 2023 city council election is regarded as creating a city council that is expected to be more friendly to Wu's agenda once new members are sworn-in in January 2024.

Environment and climate change

On November 22, 2021, Wu signed an ordinance to divest city investments from companies that derive more than 15 percent of their revenue from fossil fuels, tobacco products, or prison facilities. This is seen as being part of her pursuit of a municipal Green New Deal for Boston. The process will entail the divestment of $65 million in city assets. The new rules do not apply to Boston's employee pension fund, which is governed by state law. While a member of the city council, she had fought for the adoption of such a policy.

In August 2022, Wu unveiled a proposed home rule petition that would see the city request entrance to the state's pilot program for municipalities to ban fossil fuels from most new buildings, with the exception of labs and hospitals. The following month, the Boston City Council approved the home rule petition 9–3. The next step is for the state legislature to rule on whether to grant the petition.

On May 16, 2022, Wu pledged that the city would carry out a "Green New Deal" for Boston Public Schools (BPS) school buildings, which will see renovation of existing facilities and the construction new ones. This plan expands the funding the city is to invest in school construction from the $1 billion outlined in Marty Walsh's 2015 BuildBPS plan to $2 billion.

In April 2022, on Earth Day, as part of the city's Climate Ready Boston efforts, Wu unveiled the Heat Resilience for Boston plan. This plan centers on combatting the impacts of rising heat extremes, focusing on the "environmental justice communities" of Chinatown, Dorchester, East Boston, Mattapan, and Roxbury. Wu also announced the creation of the Boston Extreme Temperatures Response Task Force to coordinate efforts across the city related to handling heat extremes.

Wu retained Mariama White-Hammond in her role as the city's chief of environment, energy, and open space; a position focused on environmentalism. In August 2022, Wu announced that, in the following month, Oliver Sellers-Garcia would begin serving in the newly created senior advisory position of "green new deal director". This position advises the mayor's office on steps towards climate resiliency. In September 2022, Wu announced the creation of the Cabinet for Worker Empowerment. One of the tasks this new department was given is to oversee the implementation of her Green New Deal for Boston Public Schools.

Mayoralty Of Michelle Wu 
Wu (far left) at a November 2022 Boston Celtics game with Governor-elect Maura Healey, Celtics alum Satch Sanders and diplomatic guests William, Prince of Wales and Catherine, Princess of Wales (who were in Boston for the 2022 Earthshot Prize)

In July 2022, it was announced that the ceremonies for the second edition of the Earthshot Prize, an environmentalism award founded by William, Prince of Wales and The Royal Foundation, would be held in Boston in December 2022. The City of Boston are joining the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum as host partners for the award ceremony. Wu spoke with Prince William about arrangements for the event. In early November 2022, it was announced that the event's official host committee would include Wu, along with Governor Charlie Baker, John Kerry (the U.S. special presidential envoy for climate), Karen Spilka (president of the Massachusetts Senate), and Ronald Mariano (speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives). During their time in Boston for the awards, Wu spent time with William, Prince of Wales and Catherine, Princess of Wales.

As part of a $20 million housing program funded through COVID recovery funds, Wu's mayoral administration is planning to launch the "Large Building Green Energy Retrofits Program" providing building owners of buildings with fifteen or more units up to $10,000 to support efforts to reduce their buildings' energy use through "deep energy retrofits". The program is targeted at retrofitting the city's existing housing stock. In November 2023, Wu stated in an interview that the city government would not be participating in a state government pilot program for 10 cities and towns to require property developers in their communities to only construct all-electric buildings (despite 70% of the city's greenhouse gas inventory being accounted for by emissions from buildings) because the pilot program did not appear to be designed for the city and because she received "clear indications that Boston would not be chosen for the one available spot." In April 2024, the Wu administration announced the appointment of the city government's first chief climate officer and $75 million in capital funding under the city government's 2025 fiscal year budget to procure state and federal climate resilience grants.

Wu serves on the steering committee of Climate Mayors.

COVID-19 pandemic

Wu took office amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In December 2021, Wu announced a city COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Under the mandate, people ages 12 and older, in order to enter indoor public venues (bars, restaurants, gyms, theaters, and sports venues) in Boston, would be required to show proof of at least their first COVID-19 vaccine dose by January 15, 2022, and of full vaccination by February 15, 2022. The mandate promoted opposition, and in an interview with Boston Public Radio, Wu stated that she received racist messages in response to vaccine requirements. Some opponents circulated false rumors about Wu being hospitalized for panic attacks while in office. On February 19, 2022, Wu announced that the city would end its proof-of-vaccine mandate for public places with immediate effect.

The Wu administration also required city employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 (with exceptions for employees with medical reasons and religious objectors), and about 94% of city employees were in compliance with that requirement by late January 2022. Wu extended the deadline for city employees to comply. Some public employee unions fought the mandate in court, arguing that the mandate rules should be subject to collective bargaining. A Massachusetts Appeals Court judge sided with the unions, blocking the city worker mandate. Wu faced persistent demonstrations outside of her house protesting her COVID measures.

Housing and development

Mayoralty Of Michelle Wu 
Wu with Governor Charlie Baker at the December 2021 groundbreaking of an affordable housing development
Mayoralty Of Michelle Wu 
Wu (right) joins Senator Ed Markey (left) and Congressman Stephen Lynch at the announcement of federal funding to make Ausonia Apartments more energy-efficient and climate-resilient

Wu has given far less appointments for one-on one meetings with private developers than her predecessors did, giving them less opportunities to directly lobby her on policies.

In her early months as mayor, Wu moved hundreds of unhoused individuals that had been living in the Mass and Cass area to temporary housing. In January 2022, Wu designated $50 million to fund improvements to the Mildred C. Hailey Aprtments complex in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood.

In January 2022, Wu also signed an executive order to adopt a municipal Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing policy. This made Boston the largest city in the United States to adopt such a policy.

In September 2022, when Wu had an opportunity to nominate ten individuals to serve on the Boston Zoning Board of Appeal, she nominated only three Walsh appointees for reappointment. Her nominees were noted to be diverse. Some of the nominees included first generation immigrants, income-restricted renters, and building trades members.

In December 2021, Wu signed into law an ordinance amending the city's zoning code by eliminating off-street parking minimums for new affordable developments where 60% of the units are income-restricted at 100% the area median income in order to remove a barrier for the construction of new units of affordable housing. In October 2022, Wu signed an executive order that changed the approval process in the city for new income-restricted affordable housing developments. The order sought to halve the time that the approval process takes. Impacting nine city agencies (including the BPDA), the order established a separate review and approval process for affordable housing developments and requested the BPDA give priority to such developments.

In October 2022, the city of Boston provided $12 million in funding to assist in the acquisition of thirty-six apartment buildings in East Boston by the East Boston Neighborhood Trust, a new organization that is the first mixed-income neighborhood trust (MINT) in the state of Massachusetts. The trust is managed by the East Boston Community Development Corporation, a neighborhood organization. The acquisition of these buildings by the new trust, in consort with a municipal deed restriction, will ensure that the 114 housing units in these buildings permanently remain affordable. The city's funding to this came from $9 million received from the American Rescue Plan Act, $2 million received in the CARES Act, and $1 million in inclusionary development funds.

Utilizing $20 million in COVID-19 recovery funding, Wu's mayoral administration is implementing a housing program that includes an initiative to establish affordable housing in three-deckers and the "Large Building Green Energy Retrofits Program" to provide funding to assist owners of buildings with fifteen or more housing units to reduce their buildings' energy use through "deep energy retrofits".

Wu has worked with the state government to seek federal funding to realign the Massachusetts Turnpike's route through the Beacon Park Yard. The realignment would enable plans by Harvard University to build development above the railroad tracks and realigned turnpike. It would also help to bridge a community divide created in the 1960s by the construction of the viaduct on which the highway currently runs.

In 2023, Wu appointed Kenzie Bok to head the Boston Housing Authority.

In response to high office space vacancy (due to increased remote work after the COVID-19 pandemic) and demand for new housing, in June 2023 Wu announced a new program to offer property tax discounts as high as 75% to landlords that convert empty office space to residential use.

Rent control

In March 2022, Wu announced the creation of a Rent Stabilization Advisory Committee, which will report the city's Office of Housing on Strategies with advice on means to stabilize rents in the city and to combat the displacement of tenants, with the aim of creating a proposal to present to the City Council.

On March 8, 2023, in a 11–2 vote the Boston City Council consented to two home rule petitions proposed by Wu: one asking the state government to permit the city implement a form of rent control, and the other asking the state to permit Boston to implement Wu's plan to restructure the Boston Planning & Development Agency. The two petitions will need to be approved by the state government in order for Boston to be granted these permissions.

Wu's proposal has been criticized by both the real estate community, which opposes any form of rent control, and rent control advocates for not going far enough. The Boston Real Estate Board launched a campaign in 2023 to oppose Wu's measure, saying it will discourage housing production in a city and a region that already has an acute shortage, will make maintaining properties more difficult, and will hurt tax revenues.

This would be a return to rent control in Boston, where a law was in place from 1969 until voters repealed it in 1994. During that time, the number of rental units was reduced by 15% and tenants were 8-9% less likely to move due to rent control. Properties that were under rent control fell into disrepair, and they negatively impacted the property values of the buildings around them. In 1985, Boston mayor Ray Flynn ordered a survey of all boarded up buildings in Boston. By the time rent control ended in Boston, there were more than 10,000 vacant units in that city.

In September 2023, Wu announced that her administration would begin the process of creating the first overhaul in six decades to the city's zoning code. A report by Cornell University professor Sara Bronin that had been commissioned by the city had argued a need for code to be overhauled.


Boston's public transportation operator, the MBTA, is a division of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), limiting the power that the mayor of Boston has over transportation in the city. Nevertheless, Wu has taken actions and voiced positions related to the city's transportation.

Wu has called for Bostonians to have a more direct voice in the MBTA.

In August 2022, Wu's city administration and the state government worked together to prepare for and alleviate the impact of a several-week closure of a key segment of the MBTA Orange Line to facilitate needed repairs. Wu outlined alternate public transportation means that could utilized by MBTA riders during the closure. Wu also urged Boston area residents that could to utilize MBTA commuter rail lines in order to avoid increased road congestion anticipated to result from the Orange Line closure. Wu also worked to facilitate the operations shuttle busses to several neighborhoods, making sure space was reserved for the loading and unloading of passengers. Wu urged employers in the parts of the city impacted by the closure to avoid giving penalties to employees that show up tardy to work as a consequence of their impacted commutes. Amid this closure and other concerns, such as a temporary closure of a smaller part of the MBTA Green Line, Wu disagreed with the prospect of the Federal Transit Administration assuming control of the MBTA, remarking that the system's problems, which she called "a breaking point", called for, "a partnership, not a takeover" from the federal government.

Also in August 2022, Wu and local transit advocacy organizations requested federal assistance to be provided to the MBTA to address service cuts made to the MBTA's service as a result of staffing shortages. They urged for the state's congressional delegation and for United States Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg to take action to direct assistance to the MBTA.

In the state budget passed in August 2023, a seat was created on the MBTA board to be appointed by the mayor of Boston. Wu had advocated for such a seat on the board representing Boston since her time on the Boston City Council, and this was regarded to be a political victory for her.

Fare-free bus routes

Mayoralty Of Michelle Wu 
Wu (second from left) stands with Senator Ed Markey (second from right), Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (far right), and others at a press conference for the Freedom to Move Act that would provide federal funding for fare-free public transport

In December 2021 Wu extended the fare-free pilot program for the MBTA Route 28 bus that was started under the acting mayoralty of Kim Janey by two months. She did this with while engaging in talks with the MBTA to further extend the pilot program. The city had, in November 2021, announced that its data showed that during the pilot program ridership had increased to an excess of 70,000 in weekly ridership. Pre COVID-pandemic weekly ridership on the route had been 47,000, making the COVID-era pilot program ridership significantly greater despite the general impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on public transportation rider. The city concluded that, in comparison to ridership trends on comparable routes of the MBTA, the increase in ridership was directly attributable to the pilot program. A later more in-depth 2022 analysis found an overall 38% increase in weekday ridership from 7,500 before the pandemic (with fares) to 10,200 during the September and October periods during the pilot program.

In mid-November 2021, Wu sent an appropriations order to the Boston City Council to ask for approval to appropriate $8 million of federal funds to fund two years of fare-free service on the MBTA Route 23, 28, and 29 buses. These buses serve the Dorchester, Mattapan, and Roxbury communities. At the start of December, the City Council approved the appropriations order 12–1. On February 9, 2022, it was announced by Wu and MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak that the two-year program for the three routes to be fare-free was officially agreed to and would be launched on March 1, 2022. In February 2024, the city authorized a $8.4 million two-year extension of the three-route pilot into 2026.

Racial equity

Mayoralty Of Michelle Wu 
Wu speaking at Boston's 2023 Martin Luther King Jr. Day Breakfast
Mayoralty Of Michelle Wu 
Wu (second from left) poses with a group (including Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley and Governor Maura Healey at the January 2023 unveiling of The Embrace

Wu has expressed a belief that her cabinet should be reflective of the city's population, arguing that that is consequential towards making the city's government more responsive to its different communities. People of color hold a majority in her cabinet. As of August 2022, Wu's cabinet had thirteen Black members, thirteen White members, six Latinx members, and two Asian American members.

In February 2022, Wu established the city's Office for Black Male Advancement (OBMA), which will be a component of the city's already-existing Equity and Inclusion Cabinet. Wu's office stated that,

The Mayor’s Office for Black Male Advancement will work to improve outcomes and reduce systemic barriers to advancement for Black men and boys living in the City of Boston.

The office will, among other responsibilities, design projects and programs to promote equity benefiting Black men and boys, advancing the representation of Black men and boys in city government, and collaborating with the city on advocating for state and federal programs and legislation related to Black men and boys. The office will also oversee the Commission on Black Men and Boys that had been established by an ordinance signed by Kim Janey during her acting mayoralty.

In January 2022, Wu signed an executive order to adopt a municipal Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing policy. This made Boston the largest city in the United States to adopt such a policy.

In May 2022, Boston awarded a $17 million contract to City Fresh Foods, a local Black-owned business, to be a vendor for Boston City Schools. This was the largest non-construction contract that the city had awarded to a certified Black-owned business in its history. This has been credited as being indicative of Wu impacting how the city government views matters of diversity. The contract has also been credited as helping to achieve the goals of the Good Food Purchasing Program that was created by an ordinance that had been authored by Wu as a city councilwoman.

In December 2023, Wu faced accusations of racism when Denise DosSantos, Wu's director of City Council relations (an employee of the City of Boston) accidentally sent an invite on her behalf to all the Councillors for a holiday party meant exclusively for "Electeds of Color". Wu said that sending the invitations to White council members was an honest mistake, and that the party is one of the many private events held for different affinity groups, and that she looked forward to seeing everyone on the council at other opportunities to celebrate the holidays together. She said that she was asked to host the "Electeds of Color Holiday Party", which has been held for more than a decade for elected officials of color from all over Massachusetts. Other councilors of color defended the party saying that it was a way for people with "shared experiences" to come together. The Office of the Attorney General of Massachusetts rejected complaints on the matter, finding that no laws had been violated. In February 2024, the conservative group Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit against Wu claiming that she failed to honor a public records request for communications related to the holiday party.

In December 2023, Wu apologized on behalf of the city for the impact that police conduct in the investigation of the 1989 murder of Carol Stuart had upon the African-American community in the city, especially in Mission Hill. Her apology was directly addressed to Willie Bennett and Alan Swanson, who had been wrongly treated as suspects.

Education and childcare

Mayoralty Of Michelle Wu 
Wu (right) in March 2022 with U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona (center) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (left)
Mayoralty Of Michelle Wu 
Wu and Senator Elizabeth Warren visit an Early Head Start program in the Dorchester neighborhood in March 2022

In May 2022, Wu unveiled plans for a "Green New Deal" for Boston Public School buildings which doubles the capital spending that the city will devote to the construction new and renovated school buildings to $2 billion compared to the $1 million that had been outlined in former mayor Marty Walsh's 2015 BuildBPS plan. Wu has pledged for the city to have a more equitable and transparent process for school construction and capital improvements than in the past and that the process will involve input from students, educators, and parents. In September 2022, Wu announced the creation of the Cabinet for Worker Empowerment. One of the tasks of this new department is providing oversight to this "Green New Deal" for the city's schools. Another of the department's tasks is to establish a trust fund for childcare.

In mid-2022, Wu distributed grants to family childcare providers. In July 2022, Wu signed an executive order which outlined the formula for what funds developers building in the city's downtown must contribute to fund child care services in the city. This executive order builds upon a policy implemented in 1989 under the mayoralty of Raymond Flynn which requires that new commercial developments in the city's downtown provide childcare services on-site or otherwise fund resources for off-site childcare spaces. However, the policy had, previous to Wu's executive order, been difficult to enforce due to the fact that the policy did not previous provide a clear definition of the amounts that developers needed to pay.

Wu nominated Tommy Welch to serve as superintendent of Boston Public Schools. He was confirmed by the Boston School Committee in a 4–3 vote in July 2022. Wu opposed proposals by the state to place Boston Public Schools into state receivership, which arose from negative assessments of the city's schools in studies that were taken in 2020, before her mayoralty. In June 2022, Wu and Massachusetts state education officials settled on an agreement to improve Boston Public Schools, averting receivership. In February 2023, Wu vetoed a city council ordinance to advance a home rule petition that requested that the state make the city's public school board an elected body. Wu wrote that she, "deeply respect[s]" the advocates' of the ordinance, but, "cannot support legislative changes that would compromise our ability to stabilize and support the Boston Public Schools during this critical period." Previously, when she had run for mayor in 2021 Wu's education plan had called for a restructuring of the Boston School Committee that would have seen the committee have a majority of its seats be elected. Wu backed away from this support of a transition to a partially elected board after becoming mayor, arguing that it was an inopportune time for such a change to take place.

Business, labor, and economic development

Mayoralty Of Michelle Wu 
Wu and others celebrate the ribbon-cutting ceremony for a modernized Port of Boston (Front row includes: Gov. Charlie Baker, businessman Robert Kraft, Port Director Lisa Wieland, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Ed Markey; back row includes: Rep. Stephen Lynch, City Council Pres. Ed Flynn)
Mayoralty Of Michelle Wu 
Wu with Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley in May 2022

It has been observed that Wu's approach to dealing with the city's business elite has differed from her predecessors. In May 2023, Brian McGrory of The Boston Globe observed that Wu has given greater precedence toward attending to other municipal concerns than she does to giving an audience to the city's business elites. Describing Wu as "a different kind of mayor, with a different view of her city" from her predecessors, McGrory wrote, "when Wu sets her priorities...[and] when she imagines her legacy, she’s not gazing at the city’s skyline or at the people who are building it. Rather, she’s obsessed with the seemingly intractable problems that fester in the shadows of those gleaming towers." Also in May 2023, Shirley Lueng (also of The Boston Globe) similarly observed that, "previous mayors have welcomed tête-à-têtes with real estate developers and other captains of industry to discuss projects or other matters. Often, those were one-on-one meetings. But that hasn’t been Wu’s style. Instead, she prefers to assemble groups of leaders to help shape specific policies and forge public-private partnerships...the noticeable change in approach continues to ruffle the feathers of those who are used to having the ear of the mayor, all of which is perpetuating a narrative that Wu is indifferent to business interests." It has been also been observed by the Boston Globe that Wu grants substantially less meetings to real estate developers than her processors had, giving them less opportunities to directly lobby her.

In August 2022, Boston received a $23 million American Rescue Plan challenge grant from the Economic Development Administration to establish a Regional Workforce Training System aimed at training and placing individuals for 4,618 quality jobs in targeted industries over three years starting in October 2022. The Mayor's Office of Workforce Development had been the lead applicant, working with other there parties and organizations in their grant application. On Labor Day 2022, Wu announced the creation of the Cabinet for Worker Empowerment. One of the tasks this new department was assigned is overseeing the creation of more job training centers in the city.

Mayoralty Of Michelle Wu 
Wu (second from left) and other newly elected mayors and mayors-elect meet with President Joe Biden (second from right) in the Oval Office of the White House on December 14, 2021

After becoming mayor, Wu announced that she would rename the city's office of economic development the "Office of Economic Opportunity & Inclusion" and would name Segun Idowu to head it. Wu announced that Midori Morikawa, who had under Walsh and Janey been the interim chief of economic development, would be assigned a new position focused on neighborhood development. In early 2023, Wu created the new position of "director of nightlife economy", a role that is focused on overseeing development of nightlife-centered development in the city. In June 2023, Wu announced a $4 million workforce development program to provide job training to 1,000 Boston residents for entry into the biotechnology industry.

2022 North End outdoor dining policy

In early 2022, some restaurant owners, particularly many in Boston's North End, criticized Wu for only allowing North End restaurants to take part in the city's pilot outdoor dining program a month after restaurants in other neighborhoods were allowed to participate, and for levying a $7,500 charge for North End restaurants that wished to take part in the pilot program while not charging that fee for other parts of the city. Wu argued that the rationale for this was that seventy-seven outdoor dining patios were located in a single 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2) area of the North End, a particularly large number in a small area. Wu claimed that these policies were done in an attempt to help "strike the right balance with thoughtful spacing, time limitations, increased safety protections, and other resources necessary to mitigate the impacts on parking, trash, rodents, and public safety."

In addition to affected restaurant owners' resistance, this controversy was taken up as a cause by many general critics of Wu, making it a heated matter.

Boston Herald political columnist Joe Battenfeld, a general critic of Wu, expressed agreement with Wu's policies related to North End restaurants, calling it, "one of the few times Wu has been right in her young administration." He argued that the charge seemed to be "a reasonable amount", and argued that if the restaurants did not pay for the expenses related to the impact of their use of road and sidewalk space, the expenses be borne by the city's taxpayers. Battenfeld asked his readers, "Why should taxpayers subsidize restaurants, which make a hefty profit, for their outdoor dining spaces? The answer is they shouldn't." Contrarily, when Tufts University political science professor Jeffrey Berry gave WCVB-TV his overall positive assessment of Wu's first six months in office, he expressed the belief that her handling of outdoor dining on the North End had been a significant misstep. He opined, "The North End mess, and I do call it a mess, is a self-inflicted wound. It was not necessary. She overreached in terms of what she was going to charge restaurateurs there. It seemed excessive."

A lawsuit was launched by several North End restaurant owners over the policy. In March 2023, a group of five North End restaurant owners filed an amended version of the lawsuit naming Wu as a defendant with by adding an allegation that the policy had been an act of anti-Italian discrimination.

In both 2023 and 2024, the city's outdoor dining program did not make outdoor dining available to North End restaurants.


In July 2022, following a seven-month search, Wu named Michael Cox as the new commissioner of the Boston Police Department.

In June 2023, Wu vetoed a $5 million cut in Boston Police and Veterans Services department that was passed by the City Council. She called this proposed cut, "illusory, as the city is obligated to cover salary and overtime expenses incurred by the department."

In December 2023, Wu reached a contract agreement with the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association. In the terms of the contract, the union agreed that officers would lose the option to use arbitration to appeal firings or other disciplinary measures if they are convicted of certain crimes. The contract also saw the union agree to allow pay details of the department to be made public, and for their to be more strict outlines on when officers are permitted to take medical leave. Yawu Miller of the Bay State Banner described it as being, "the first [contract] in which [Boston] city officials have managed to secure significant reforms from the Patrolmen’s union." It was approved unanimously by the Boston City Council on December 13, 2024. In March 2024, a similar contract was reached with the Boston Police Detectives Benevolent Society.

Budget matters

Mayoralty Of Michelle Wu 
Wu with Jewel H. Bronaugh (deputy secretary of agriculture) in October 2022

In October 2022, Wu vetoed a 20% pay increase for city councilors that had been passed by the City Council. Wu had supported an 11% increase, which had been the recommendation of Boston's compensation advisory board, but opposed a 20% increase.

In June 2023, Wu vetoed a large number of budget amendments offered by the City Council, including amendments that otherwise would have resulted in decreased funding to the city's Office of Veterans Services and its police department, as well as an amendment aimed at increasing citizen input in budgeting. She also vetoed funding cuts for the Boston 's Transportation Department, Public Works Department, and the Boston Public Library. In all, Wu vetoed the majority of changes that the City Council made to the budget. Wu asserted that the cuts vetoed went against her belief that the city's budget should be, "built on a foundation of effective delivery of city services that are central to our residents' quality of life." The city council held votes on overriding six of Wu's vetos, but only one such vote reached the necessary threshold. This was for an addition the City Council has made to the budget to explicitly allocate $600,000 for pay raises to police officers. However, Wu has declared her intention to treat that change as illegal, arguing that the council's actions would amount to it illegally involving itself in the ongoing collective bargaining process between the city government and the Municipal Police Patrolmen's Union. Wu has agreed that a salary change is due, but regards the City Council's change to the budget to not be in accordance with the law.

Handling of protesters

Wu has faced incidents of intense protest and altercation from individuals politically opposed to her. These have included altercations occurring inside of Boston City Hall, disturbances at formal events, extended demonstrations outside of Wu's personal residence, an incident in which Wu's personal residence was the target of swatting, and incidents in which Wu has been followed by automobile. Many of these incidents have involved frequent repeat protesters. This has been noted to possibly relate to a phenomenon observed in studies (such as a survey conducted in the fall of 2021 by the Mayor's Innovation Project) showing that female mayors and mayors who are persons of color are subjected to more political violence (both in the forms of psychological abuse and physical violence) than mayors who do not fall under either of those characteristics.

In March 2022, by a 9–4 vote, the City Council passed an ordinance that had been proposed the previous month by Wu to limit the hours at which targeted protests outside of people's homes can take place to between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Wu herself had been the subject of targeted protesting outside of her home against her COVID-19 measures. Violations are punishable by fine. The ordinance generated some controversy.

In 2023, it was revealed that after the 2022 Dorchester Day Parade Wu's office shared with the city's police department a list it had compiled naming protesters that Wu's office said had followed Wu and her family during the parade, harassing and physically intimidating them. The office said that it had forwarded this list after the Boston Police Department had requested information about this incident. Wu's spokesperson claimed the list included "people, who over the course of several months...harassed and physically intimidated the mayor and her family on a near daily basis." The list included individuals that had frequently protested Wu, including several individuals that had previously protested outside of Wu's residence. One individual on the list was a council candidate, while another was a North End restaurant owner that was wanted by police at the time for charges relating to a shooting. Wu received criticism from some news organizations for sending the police a list of "critics", with some comparisons being made to the "enemies list" that had been compiled in the presidential administration of U.S. president Richard Nixon.

Other matters

Wu has pursued litigation by the city against the United States Census Bureau for allegedly undercounting Boston's population in the 2020 United States Census, thereby hurting its access to federal resources.

Other political activity

Wu endorsed Sonia Chang-Díaz's candidacy in the Democratic primary of the 2022 Massachusetts gubernatorial election. After Chang-Díaz withdrew from the race, Wu endorsed Maura Healey's successful gubernatorial candidacy. Wu endorsed the unsuccessful campaign of Shannon Liss-Riordan in the Democratic primary of the 2022 Massachusetts attorney general election. In 2022, she supported Chris Dempsey's unsuccessful campaign in the Democratic primary for Massachusetts state auditor. Also in 2022, Wu endorsed Steven W. Tompkins' reelection campaign for Suffolk County sheriff before his Democratic primary. Wu also endorsed a number of state legislature candidates in 2022. Before past sexual assault allegations against him became known, Wu had endorsed Ricardo Arroyo's 2022 campaign for Suffolk County district attorney. However, after the allegations surfaced, Wu and many joined many other prominent politicians in withdrawing her nomination of Arroyo. Wu supported the reelection campaign of Raphael Warnock in the 2022 United States Senate election in Georgia. Wu campaigned for the effort to get voters to write-in President Joe Biden in the 2024 New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary.


In 2022, Wu was honored by Gold House (which honors those of Asian Pacific descent). The organization honored her and fellow mayors Bruce Harrell and Aftab Pureval as having made the "most impact" in the field of advocacy and policy. The Harvard College Class of 2022 selected Wu to be their Class Day speaker. Wu had been the first alumnus of Harvard College to be elected mayor of Boston since Malcolm Nichols was elected in 1925. In 2022, Time magazine recognized Wu in its Time100 Next list of emerging leaders. The article accompanying her entry was authored by Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley. In 2022, Wu received the "Catalyst for Justice Award" from Massachusetts Public Health Association. In 2022, Boston magazine ranked Wu at the top of its list of "100 Most Influential Bostonians". In 2023, she was ranked ninth on the magazine's power list. The Boston Bar Association gave Wu the "Voice of Change" award at its 2023 Beacon Awards for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. In 2023, Wu and former acting mayor Janey received the Boston Arts Academy Foundation's "Champion Award".

See also


Political offices
Preceded by
Marty Walsh (tenure)
Kim Janey –acting predecessor
Mayor of Boston, Massachusetts
November 16, 2021 – present
Succeeded by


Mayoralty Of Michelle Wu ElectionMayoralty Of Michelle Wu Transition into officeMayoralty Of Michelle Wu Relationship with the Boston City CouncilMayoralty Of Michelle Wu Environment and climate changeMayoralty Of Michelle Wu COVID-19 pandemicMayoralty Of Michelle Wu Housing and developmentMayoralty Of Michelle Wu TransportationMayoralty Of Michelle Wu Racial equityMayoralty Of Michelle Wu Education and childcareMayoralty Of Michelle Wu Business, labor, and economic developmentMayoralty Of Michelle Wu PolicingMayoralty Of Michelle Wu Budget mattersMayoralty Of Michelle Wu Handling of protestersMayoralty Of Michelle Wu Other mattersMayoralty Of Michelle Wu Other political activityMayoralty Of Michelle Wu RecognitionMayoralty Of Michelle Wu2021 Boston mayoral electionBostonBoston City CouncilBoston City Council tenure of Michelle WuDemocratic Party (United States)MassachusettsMayor of BostonMichelle WuPerson of color

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