Masked and bundled up against the cold, five new councillors were welcomed to City Hall on Monday as they joined eight returning incumbents in the courtyard, where they took their oaths of office under a January sky.
The rare, and brief, ceremony, driven outdoors by a resurgence in Covid-19 cases from a virulent strain that is tearing through Massachusetts, drew US Sen. Elizabeth Warren, US Labor Secretary and former Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, and Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins, who is set to take her own oath later this month as the next US attorney for Massachusetts.
Mayor Michelle Wu, who administered the oath to the councillors, noted that 2022 is marking 200 years since Boston transitioned from a town to a city and created its first City Council, which consisted of 55 members. More than 100 years passed before a woman or a person of color served on the body.
“As we mark this new year, it’s truly not just about the passage of time but the progress that the city has seen and we will continue to rush into it in this time of great consequence,” Wu said.
The swearing-in ceremony drew a small band of protesters who sounded sirens and decried coronavirus restrictions, like the indoor mask-wearing mandate. The Wu administration has also required proof of vaccination for entry into private businesses such as restaurants, gyms, and entertainment halls.
The new councillors include:
• Ruthzee Louijeune, the council’s first Haitian American and winner of one of the four at-large seats, comes aboard as a housing activist and attorney who, like Wu, worked for Sen. Warren.
• Erin Murphy, a former teacher, got a head start as a sitting councillor last month. Because she was among the runners-up in 2019, she slid in to fill the at-large vacancy created by Wu’s departure for the mayor’s office. The term lasted through the end of 2021, and on Monday, Murphy took the oath of office for the two-year at-large term that she won in November.
• Tania Fernandes Anderson is the council’s first African Muslim member. She was born in Cape Verde and now represents District 7, which includes parts of Dorchester, Roxbury, and the South End. Kim Janey had held the seat as Council president until she became acting mayor last spring and then opted to run for mayor instead of re-election.
• Brian Worrell, a small business owner, is the first Black man to serve on the council since 2017, when Tito Jackson left it to run for mayor. Worrell replaces Andrea Campbell, an attorney and former mayoral candidate, in representing District 4, which includes Dorchester and Mattapan.
• Kendra Lara also joined the council, replacing Matt O’Malley, who did not seek reelection in District 6, which includes Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury and parts of Roslindale and Roxbury. Lara campaigned under her married name, Hicks, but will use her maiden name going forward.
The returning at-large councillors are Michael Flaherty and Julia Mejia. The other district representatives include Frank Baker in District 3 (Dorchester); Lydia Edwards, in District 1(East Boston); Ed Flynn, in District 2 (South Boston); Ricardo Arroyo, in District 5 (Hyde Park); Kenzie Bok, in District 8 (Beacon Hill); and Liz Breadon, in District 9 (Allston Brighton).
In her brief remarks after the ceremony, Wu, who served for seven years on the council, said her administration is “ready to partner in every way” with councillors, noting that she marched with Worrell in the First Night parade.
More turnover is coming within the council: Edwards won a conclusive December Democratic primary for the state Senate seat vacated by Joe Boncore, so a special election will take place later this year to fill her seat on the council.