Janey already scoring from her potent perch
Acting mayor position gives her unrivaled power and visibility
For more than three years, Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu — who was way out in front on the issue — has been hammering away at the idea of making the MBTA free for riders. With one week on the job, Acting Mayor Kim Janey made it happen.
OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. What Janey did was announce a pilot program this week offering 1,000 people who work in five Boston neighborhood business districts up to $60 in credit on MBTA CharlieCards or Bluebikes passes.
The bully pulpit that city councilors have to raise important issues is no match for the governing pulpit of the mayor to actually put things in motion. Or at least to be the one behind big announcements.
“I’m proud to launch this pilot program with the MBTA and Bluebikes to learn more about the impacts on commuter patterns when the cost of public transit is covered,” Janey said in a statement unveiling the program. “And as more workers begin in return to workplaces, making transit more accessible is critical to our equitable recovery from the pandemic.”
Already this week, she’s not only rolled out the transit initiative that will make 1,000 people very happy, but also promoted $50 million in rental relief that is coming from the federal government and the opening of applications by Boston teens for summer jobs — with a goal of 5,000 slots.
Now serving as the official face of city government is an enormous advantage Janey will enjoy when (not if) she formally jumps into the mayor’s race. Janey has already been fundraising via her transition website, and Politico’s Stephanie Murray reports this morning that she’s hired a campaign manager for a mayoral run.
Wu, an at-large city councilor, was the first candidate in the mayor’s race, announcing her run last September when it was still presumed that Walsh would be seeking a third term. (Walsh actually announced her candidacy, but that’s another story.) Fellow city councilor Andrea Campbell entered the contest later that month. Following Walsh’s nomination to President Biden’s cabinet in January, a third city councilor, Annissa Essaibi George, state Rep. Jon Santiago, and Walsh economic development chief John Barros have jumped in the race.They all bring solid credentials and a compelling story. But they will all be vying against an acting mayor who is making news every day and will be working to impress upon voters that the big change they might want in city government — including a history-making break with an unbroken chain of white men as mayor — has already arrived.
“We cannot go back to the way things were before — we must go better,” Janey said in a fundraising email this week.