They say politics in Boston is a contact sport – and now the 2022 regular season is about to begin.
New mayor Michelle Wu is a seasoned player, but she’ll have to prove she can handle the blows that inevitably come their way as the Hub’s CEO.
Here are a few other Boston-specific political angles to watch out for that are largely – but not entirely – Wu-centric:
Boston elected a mayor who pledged progressive, broad-based action on a range of issues, from climate to transportation to housing.
Now the rubber is hitting Boston’s increasingly bus lane road, and we’ll see what Wu can do – and if it works.
Wu, who took office on November 16 due to the fact that there was a vacant mayor post, said she counted her first 100 days as starting next Monday, when the new mayor would normally take office. . This is arbitrary on his part, but so is the first 100 days paradigm in general; However, the tally is working, Wu has already taken steps to consider some form of rent control, major planning and zoning changes, and free transit routes, among other measures.
A subpoint to this is how she and the city council interact. The political center of the council will likely continue to drift to the left with the new generation of councilors. The votes of political newcomers can be difficult to predict, but in general this seems to be a rather left-wing group. The means that Wu could potentially have a better relationship with the board than some of his predecessors, which would be conducive to the execution of more of his agenda.
Councilor Ed Flynn, the expected next chairman of the board, is a relatively moderate, speaking out in favor, for example, of increasing the Boston Police Department’s budget and hiring more cops. But Flynn and Wu have enjoyed a good relationship for years and have often teamed up on issues, especially those involving Chinatown, which is in Flynn District.
The city is emerging from back-to-back busy budget cycles – two consecutive years in which passing a budget on time was at one point or another in doubt as council pushed back administration.
It will be the third different mayor in as many years at the helm as the city prepares its budget, which must be adopted before June 30 to enter into force on time. If, as mentioned above, the council becomes more and more favorable to Wu, this time it could avoid some of the clashes Wu’s predecessors had, as agitated councils sued Walsh for police funding and Janey for federal relief dollars, among other issues.
But this year brings a new twist: increased budgetary power for the council. Last November, the city’s voters passed a referendum that will allow council to play a more concretely active role in the process, with the ability to vote to change the budget proposed by the mayor. Right now the board can only vote for or against big chunks at a time.
The maiden voyage of this approach this spring will be in the news.
One of Wu’s first tasks is to set up his promised national search for a police commissioner. The position is now vacant and Chief Superintendent Greg Long, the deputy in command of the department, continues to fill.
Her final selection will have broad implications for the ministry, to which she has said she wants to continue making changes aimed at increasing transparency and accountability.
Sticking to the subject of the police, Wu has previously advocated for major cuts to the police department, but his positions on funding the police became vague during the mayoral race. It will have to specify its intentions in this regard in the city’s first budget proposal, which will be released in the spring.
Wu is entering the New Year amid a back and forth with some first responder unions over the city’s vaccination mandate, and that’s a sign of things to come. Wu has been open about his intention to seek to negotiate disciplinary changes and other reformist elements in contracts, changes that usually don’t go so well in cop union rooms. Keep an eye out for how much she ends up focusing on that and how much both parties decide to fight.
The Suffolk County District Attorney’s position is a bit on hold to start the New Year. Current incumbent Rachael Rollins was confirmed as U.S. prosecutor for Massachusetts almost a month ago, but is yet to leave – a move that could come any day now . Rollins’ sometimes controversial tenure as the state’s highest federal attorney will be his own report to watch over the next few years, but his departure from the coveted DA County post will see incumbent Gov. Charlie Baker nominate someone for. fill the last year of his mandate.
Rumors have circulated about who Baker might choose, and his administration has interviewed a handful of people who could take the reins for this latter part of the term. But that will almost certainly open up a real contest for the next four-year term as head of the DA office, a contest likely to be decided by a Democratic primary in September, followed by a likely less competitive general election in November.
Even in the midst of a statewide open governor race – and, if Attorney General Maura Healey runs for government, an AG race – it will be a big contest.