Women of the Boston City Council Roundtable

By Beth Treffeisen

On stage, a diverse group of six, hard-working women sat together for the first time to discuss their hardships, accomplishments, and excitement to serve on the Boston City Council beginning Jan. 1.

On Monday, Dec. 11, the women of the Boston City Council, including the incoming female city councilors, joined together for a conversation at the Modern Theater moderated by Yovonne Abraham of The Boston Globe. This will be the first time that six of the 13 Boston City Council seats will be served by women.

The event was hosted by Suffolk University and sponsored by Novus, an attribution, risk and data solutions company for investors.

“It is a great idea and great opportunity, and it couldn’t be more timely, both locally and with what is happening at the State House,” said Paul Scapicchio the president of the Novus Group’s Government Affairs Division, and former Boston City Council member. “You are all young, bright, articulate women who are going to be a different voice for the city.”

Women on panel included, Michelle Wu, president, at-large city councilor; Annissa Essaibi George, at-large councilor; Ayanna Pressley, at-large councilor; Andrea Campbell, president-elect, District 4 councilor; Lydia Edwards, District 1 elect; and Kim Janey, District 7 councilor-elect.

Until 2013 only 10 women have served since the Boston City Council was created in 1909. But now, in 2017 the City Council is about to swear in the most diverse group in the city’s history.

“Boston’s 2017 political realm is starting to reflect what Boston looks like,” said Edwards. “There are a majority people of color in the city and I’m not surprised that the City Council now looks like that. We’re just not used to seeing the City of Boston fully reflective of that in the political field.”

Wu made a point of saying that there have always been talented women and people of color in Boston, but we haven’t seen in the public service at a lower level. “I think this a marker where the country is going,” said Wu.

Pressley said that all of these women are here because they have worked hard to gain the confidence in the votes of the electorate, and this is not just in response to Donald Trump becoming president.

“It is not a big secret or surprise,” said Pressley. “We’re here because we worked hard and we are damn good. We’re not a fluke, and we are here to stay.”

Questions ranged from what is your worst and best trait to whom inspired you most throughout your life? Overwhelmingly, the councilors stated their mothers and other women who helped raised them.

“It is so hard to chose one,” said Janey. “First I want to give homage to those who came before me, particularly my grandmothers, my parents and my mom in particular. My mom divorced early and raised us as a single mom. I had a daughter in high school. And my mom is a constant source of inspiration and probably why I am so determined.”

Wu said her mom who immigrated to the country at very young age continues to put her family first. On her street, Wu said, her mom is known as “the mayor of the block.”

One question that was brought up that resonated with the entire panel was has the pipeline strengthened over the last few years for women and people in color?

Edwards shared that in the past she has walked into many committee rooms or conference meetings being the only person of color but she is excited to become part of the Boston City Council because she won’t have that same feeling.

“Ayanna started to pave the way but the road is not complete,” said Essaibi-George. “We need to continue to pave that road. The most powerful piece of that road is that we get to design it and decide where it is going to point and build more roads that will branch off it. I’m excited to get there with these new members.”

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