City Hall on Monday welcomed five new councillors, masked and bundled up against the cold as they joined returning incumbents in taking their oaths of office in the January air.
The rare and brief outdoor ceremony, driven by a resurgence in COVID-19 cases as a virulent strain tears through Massachusetts, drew Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Labor Secretary and former mayor Marty Walsh and Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins, who is set to take her own oath later this month as the next U.S. attorney from Massachusetts.
Mayor Michelle Wu, who administered the oath of office, noted that 2022 marks 200 years since Boston turned over from a town to a city and created its first City Council. Back then, there were 55 councillors, and for more than 100 years there were no women or people of color serving 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 new councillors include:
Ruthzee Louijeune is the council’s first Haitian American. The housing activist and attorney, who like Wu worked for Sen. Warren, won one of the four at-large seats.
A former teacher, Erin Murphy got a head start since she became a city councillor in December. 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 a two-year term since she won an at-large seat in November.
The council has its first African Muslim councillor in Tania Fernandes Anderson, born in Cape Verde and now representing District 7, which includes parts of Dorchester, Roxbury and the South End. Kim Janey had held the seat and opted to run for mayor while serving as acting mayor earlier this year.
Brian Worrell, a small business owner, is the council’s first Black man since 2017, when Tito Jackson left the council to run for mayor. Worrell replaces Andrea Campbell, an attorney and former mayoral candidate, in representing District 4, which includes Dorchester and Mattapan.
Kendra Hicks also joined the council, replacing Matt O’Malley and representing District 6, which includes Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury and parts of Roslindale and Roxbury. She is the first woman of color to serve in the seat.
The returning councillors are Michael Flaherty and Julia Mejia for at-large, and District 3 (Dorchester) Councillor Frank Baker, District 1 (East Boston) Councillor Lydia Edwards, District 2 (South Boston) Councillor Ed Flynn, District 5 (Hyde Park) Councillor Ricardo Arroyo, District 8 (Beacon Hill) Councillor Kenzie Bok, and District 9 (Allston Brighton) Councillor Liz Breadon. Flynn was elected internally to serve as the City Council president.
More turnover is expected within the council: Edwards won a 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.
The swearing-in ceremony drew a small band of protesters who sounded sirens and decried coronavirus restrictions like an indoor mask-wearing mandate. The Wu administration has also required proof of vaccination for entry into private businesses such as restaurants and gyms, as well as entertainment halls.
In her brief remarks after the swearing-in 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.