Students react to Michelle Wu’s historic Boston mayoral win

“She defined the race with her ideas”

Students react to Michelle Wu’s historic Boston mayoral win

By Kami Nguyen and Mahidhar Sai Lakkavaram

On Tuesday, Nov. 2, Michelle Wu was elected to be the next mayor of Boston. A former Boston City Council President, Wu is the first female, Asian-American and person of color to be elected as mayor of the city. She defeated Annissa Essaibi George, a current Boston City Council member.

Students at the University of Massachusetts have shown excitement over her victory, believing that it will represent a new era for Boston politics.

Max McDermott, a senior political science major and former UMass Democrats treasurer, noted that the city has been majority-minority since 2000 and said, “The government of Boston has really lagged behind its population for a long time, so I think now Michelle Wu does represent a much more diverse Boston.”

Caroline Tran, a sophomore microbiology and public health major, said, “I think that seeing these people of color and other minorities run and win these races just goes to show how our generation is progressing.”

Trisha Raman, a sophomore biomedical engineering student, also expressed a similar sentiment: “As a fellow woman of color, Michelle Wu’s mayoral win was a spot of good news amidst such a constantly polarized climate.”

As a progressive Democrat, some of Wu’s signature policies include creating a City Green New Deal, eliminating MBTA fares and expanding affordable housing.

Raman explained, “I was really intrigued by her policy of eradicating gentrification in city neighborhoods as that’s something that happens a lot in my hometown, [Acton, Massachusetts].”

“I think policies like these will allow for more opportunities for people of color to access resources that they need like education and transportation,” she added.

Raman is also heavily dependent on the MBTA for transit when she goes to Boston for her internship, so Wu’s plan to remove fares “would create a much more accessible experience” for her and many others who may not “have the proper funds to use these services,” she said.

McDermott is currently working on an honors thesis about Boston politics. While remaining a bit skeptical, he believes that the big ideas Wu has planned for the city are possible and needed.

“Rent control would need to come through an act in the state legislature, through Charlie Baker’s veto […] she’ll need a lot of allies in the state government for a lot of this,” McDermott said.

He is also optimistic about the creation of a Green New Deal for the city.

“I think a Green New Deal is always a chance to bring people together. I think that’s something that has the chance to put the city to work while also putting off a really dangerous, unstable future,” he said.

Wu is the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, and as an Asian-American, Tran was surprised by her success.

“I never really saw that [representation], all I saw were white men. This is like a whole new revelation to me. I’m glad it’s happening now, sooner than later,” she said.

Tran also believes that Wu’s victory will help break down the stereotype that Asian women are too submissive to hold positions of power. She is glad that her little sister will now have her as a role model.

On the other hand, McDermott was certain of Wu’s success from the beginning of her campaign.

“She was a very clear and exciting leader from the beginning, and it was really a battle for second place it seemed like for the rest of them.” he said. “She defined the race with her ideas.”

McDermott also expressed that because of Wu’s grassroots campaign and community organizing, “People felt like they belonged in the kind of Boston she represented.”

Kami Nguyen can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @kamihnguyen. Mahidhar Sai Lakkavaram can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Mahidhar_sl.