Former acting mayor Kim Janey, activist Mel King back Elugardo for Senate seat

Mel King and Kim Janey

Acting mayor Kim Janey and former state Rep. Mel King (center) in November 2021 at the unveiling of Mel King Square in the South End. (File photo via Mayor's Office)

Former acting Mayor Kim Janey and Mel King, a giant in Boston politics, are throwing their support behind state Rep. Nika Elugardo’s run for state Senate.

Janey, who served as acting mayor after Marty Walsh’s departure for the Biden administration, was the first Black person and the first woman to serve as the city’s chief executive. King is a longtime community activist and a former state representative who in 1983 became the first Black mayoral candidate to clear the preliminary.

Elugardo, is giving up her state House job to run for the Second Suffolk Senate seat, which opened up after Jamaica Plain’s Sonia Chang-Diaz launched a run for governor. The Sept. 6 Democratic primary will feature Elugardo, pastor Miniard Culpepper, state Rep. Liz Miranda and former state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson.

“Nika’s remarkable leadership as a Representative has helped to affect racial and social justice for her district,” Janey, who also served as a city councillor and City Council president, said in a statement. “I know she will do the same for the Second Suffolk District. Her record shows a consistent focus on anti-racism, equity, and justice for those who need it most like our many incarcerated and justice-involved loved ones and children, as well as working with us to identify and articulate what is fair and equitable in our state legislation.”

Elugardo has known King for decades. An Ohio native, Elugardo moved to Boston when she was 17 and met King, who encouraged her to run for office in the 1990s. She resisted, but told the Reporter last year that King and others eventually convinced her to jump into politics.

“Over the past 30 years, it has been one of the delights of my life to watch Nika learn and grow and lead the way leaders should lead,” King said. “In her work as State Rep, and long before in her work across this city and beyond, Nika has led with the power of love and not the love of power. She makes sure that youth leadership is central to the work of justice and understands that when our world is in their hands, our world is in good hands.”

Elugardo, in her own statement, said Janey’s endorsement “means the world to me,” and called King a mentor. “No one understands my heart for justice as he does,” Elugardo said. “And no one could have taught me more than he has about how to deliver change in a way that lasts.”

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