Taking the reins as Boston’s acting mayor, Kim Janey is more than just a seat warmer. Janey has become the first woman and first Black person to lead the nearly 400-year-old city on Monday. She was sworn in on Wednesday.
Founded in 1630, and incorporated in 1822, Janey disrupts centuries of white male power in Boston. She will serve as mayor until a new one is elected and sworn in later this year. Currently, Janey has not declared intent to run for a full term.
Fellow trailblazers Rep. Ayanna Pressley and Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins expressed joy at the news.
“You are the culmination of our ancestors’ hopes, dreams, struggles and achievements,” tweeted Pressley from her official account.
Former mayor Marty Walsh resigned to serve in the Biden Administration. Confirmed as labor secretary, Walsh resigned as mayor Monday night.
As city council president, Janey assumed the role a minute later. Despite the word “acting” in her title, Janey plans to lead with conviction as she has done in council.
She spent her first day visiting the middle school she attended as a child. “I come to this day with life experiences different from the men who came before me,” wrote Janey in an open letter to the city. “But when I was just 11, school busing rolled into my life. I was forced onto the front lines of the 1970s school desegregation battle. I faced rocks and racial slurs thrown at my bus, for simply attending school while Black.”
“This is the City I love. This is the City where I have been a student and a parent, an organizer and an advocate, a City Councilor and the City Council President. I am proud to continue my work with you, as your Mayor,” Janey wrote.
Janey laid out her vision for an equitable COVID-19 recovery, recognizing that issues such as affordable housing and climate change are not new. She also touched on Boston’s egregious wealth gap between Black and white families, partly due to a long history of discriminatory policies.
Eyes will be on Boston later this year as a historic field of candidates vie to lead the city.
Five candidates have declared their candidacy. Boston City Councilors Michelle Wu, Andrea Campbell, and Annissa Essaibi George were the first candidates in the race. All three tweeted positive messages of support for Janey.
Other candidates include Massachusetts state Rep. Jon Santiago and John Barros, Boston’s economic development chief.
Interested candidates must file by May 18. The primary election is scheduled for September 21, and the general election will take place on November 2.
City charter limits the scope of Janey’s role to pressing matters only. She can still pass or veto ordinances passed by the City Council or handle executive matters such as payroll and contracts according to Boston.com.