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Backed by Black and Latino coalition, Flynn secures votes for Council presidency

Yawu Miller
Yawu Miller is the former senior editor of the Bay State Banner. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1990 and has written for the Banner since 1988.... VIEW BIO
Backed by Black and Latino coalition, Flynn secures votes for Council presidency
District 1 Councilor Ed Flynn

District 2 City Councilor Edward Flynn announced Wednesday he has the votes necessary to become president of the 13-member body, after his coalition of supporters joined forces with a group of Black and Latino councilors.

“I am honored that my colleagues have placed their trust in me to take on this role,” said Flynn in a statement, as reported in the Boston Globe. “I look forward to supporting all of our City Councilors and our exceptional Central Staff team as we work hard to provide city services to every community and make Boston the best city it can be.”

Flynn, who was reportedly backed by at-large Councilor Michael Flaherty, at-large Councilor-elect Erin Murphy and District 3 Councilor Frank Baker, received support from District 5 Councilor Ricardo Arroyo, who scuttled his own bid for the presidency and brought along those who had committed to vote for him: at-large Councilor Julia Mejia, District 6 Councilor-elect Kendra Hicks and District 7 Councilor-elect Tania Fernandes Anderson.

“I would have loved to be the president, absolutely, but I always saw this as being about moving forward a Black and Latino agenda,” Arroyo told the Banner. “We had to ensure that the committees most important to advancing our agenda were held by the right people. And I think we achieved that.”

The councilors of color secured key committee assignments in exchange for their support. Arroyo said Flynn agreed he would  serve as vice president of the Council head the body’s Government Operations and Redistricting committees. Hicks said she was promised chairmanship of the Housing and Environment committees as well as vice-chairmanship of the Public Safety Committee.

Julia Mejia will become the first Latina to head the council’s Education Committee and will also head the Small Business and Workforce Development Committee. Anderson will become the first Black woman to head the Council’s Ways and Means Committee, which means she will preside over the budgeting process.

“The opportunity we have is to make good on our campaign promises,” Hicks said. “We were sent to City Hall – the mayor and the new city councilors – with a progressive mandate. Being positioned in these committees puts us in a position to deliver on that mandate.”

Mayor Michelle Wu, who was sworn in Nov. 16, ran on a platform that included making the MBTA fare-free, supporting a rent stabilization and mitigating climate change in Boston. In polls this year, a majority of voters in Boston expressed support for rent control and a return to an elected School Committee.

Hicks ran one of the more stridently progressive campaigns this year. Her full-throated support for police reform and rent control raised some eyebrows. In October, the Boston Globe ran an article detailing her struggles to pay rent, noting that she has on more than one occasion been sued by landlords for nonpayment. Yet she was backed by a surge of progressive voters in Jamaica Plain, Roslindale and parts of West Roxbury and became the first person of color to represent the seat, which until now has always been won by white West Roxbury residents.

“The Globe documented her experiences with housing insecurity,” Arroyo said of Hicks. “Now she’s heading the Housing Committee.”

While the vote on the Council presidency is held in January, after the new councilors are seated, jockeying for the position typically begins after the November Council election. Also in contention for the presidency was District 8 Councilor Kenzie Bok.

Those who were uncommitted to candidates for president included at-large Councilor-elect Ruthzee Louijeune and District 4 Councilor-elect Brian Worrell.

Erratum: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Kendra Hicks would co-chair the Public Safety Committee with Michael Flaherty. She will serve as vice chair. The chairmanship of the committee has not yet been assigned.

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