By Seth Daniel
Mattapan Councilor Andrea Campbell – in just the beginning of her second term in office – announced on Saturday night that she had secured the votes to become the next City Council president, and the first African-American woman to hold that role.
She will replace – if the commitments from her colleagues hold up – Council President Michelle Wu on Inauguration Day, which is 10 a.m. on Jan. 1.
“I am extremely grateful to have the support of all my colleagues and honored to serve as the council’s next president,” she said in a statement. “As the first African-American woman to serve in this role, I am especially humbled and proud to lead the most diverse council in this body’s history, with an historic six women of color. The progress we’ve made would not be possible without the commitment every member of this body has shown to achieving justice, providing equitable services in our diverse communities, and increasing opportunity for all our residents.”
Campbell said she wanted to continue with Wu’s priorities of transparency and accessibility of the Council to the public.
“As we move ahead, I am committed to increasing the Council’s transparency and accessibility, to implementing innovative tools and technologies to more efficiently deliver constituent services, and to elevating the ideas and experiences of residents who feel like they are not heard in City Hall,” she said. “I want to thank President Wu for her tremendous leadership these last two years. I look forward to building on her work as president and supporting the goals of each of my colleagues, continuing to highlight the important work and role of the council, and working in partnership with Mayor Walsh to implement impactful policies that lift up every community.”
In the South End, several community leaders within the South End Forum were already eyeing one important appointment that Campbell would make – that being someone to chair the 2020 Redistricting Committee.
Many in the South End felt jilted in 2010 – the last redistricting effort – when their neighborhood was once again carved up into three, different council districts. After last November’s City Election – where a South End/Bay Village candidate lost in a close race – there are already calls for Campbell to pick someone who will unite the South End.
“This is an important and powerful position – especially for the South End,” said Steve Fox, moderator of the South End Forum. “The last chair of this committee was the recently retired District 2 Councilor, Bill Linehan, who was responsible for the carve-up of the South End that resulted in loss of our shared electoral voice, preservation of his own political electoral advantage, and diluting South End representation on the council.”
He added that he hopes Campbell will appoint at at-large councilor to chair this committee in 2020.
“For South Enders, this will be one of the most important decisions the new president will make and she must choose wisely if ‘new’ Boston has any hope to replace ‘old’ Boston,” he said.
In the Back Bay, Martyn Roetter of the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay (NABB) said they look forward to working with her on constituent services issues.
“NABB looks forward to continuing to work in 2018 and beyond with the City Council and its new, as well as its returning, members on matters of interest and concern to the residents of the Back Bay, and to the future of Back Bay as a neighborhood that both depends on and contributes to the quality of life in the City as a whole,” he said. “NABB congratulates Andrea Campbell upon the announcement of her position as the new council president, and has noted with great appreciation her focus on issues such as education, housing and public safety, as well as on the efficient and effective delivery of constituent services, all of which are among the perennial topics of discussion and advocacy among NABB members.”
Wu said she was excited to see Campbell succeed her.
“I’m thrilled that we’ll have Andrea’s leadership for the council and the city,” she said. “She’ll do a great job supporting the work of colleagues next term who bring a mix of passion and expertise to build an inclusive and equitable future for all residents.”
Mayor Martin Walsh said he looks forward to working with her in the coming term.
“Andrea is a tireless advocate for her constituents and for Boston, and I congratulate her on becoming City Council president,” he said. “As a smart, passionate leader, Andrea will continue to propel Boston forward, and I look forward to working with her and the City Council.”
The council president position is a two-year commitment and includes setting the agenda and working towards finding consensus among members. It’s also a citywide position that is in large part the public face of the council.