BOSTON (WHDH) - Boston Mayor Michelle Wu sat down for a one-on-one interview with 7NEWS’ Amaka Ubaka to discuss the issues she is tackling at City Hall.
The new mayor has been breaking barriers and facing big challenges as the pandemic continues to take its toll on the city nearly three years in.
“We are now well over 30 percent community positivity because the omicron variant is that much more transmissible,” she said. “We know that people continue to lose their lives.”
The battle against COVID-19 has lead to a battle in court with the city’s first responders. Unions for Boston police and firefighters are working to stop the mayor’s new mandate which states that all city workers must receive a least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine by January 15.
On Wednesday a judge ruled that the mayor’s controversial mandate can stand.
“There is a huge difference between what happens if you’re exposed to this virus when you’re fully vaccinated and when you are not. And that difference isn’t just an individual impact, it affects our entire communities,” said Wu. “The requirement for vaccinations in our city workforce — this is all to ensure that we are boosting our vaccination rates and closing these gaps so that we can all be safe and move towards ending this pandemic.”
Wu has recently taken action to solve another health and safety crisis – the homeless encampment in the area of Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard known as “Mass. and Cass.” More than 150 people have now relocated to a network of temporary housing facilities and the tents that have marked that landscape for years were cleared away earlier this week.
“It doesn’t work just to take someone’s tent away and not give a meaningful option of where someone can live,” the mayor said. “So the goal is really to get at the root causes of the housing and services that are needed so that we can transform this dynamic and help people on their journey to recovery.”
In the face of these actions, Mayor Wu is facing frequent protests inside City Hall and at her events around Boston.
“That is the point of our democracy,” said Wu.
Born to parents who came from Taiwan seeking freedom and opportunity, Wu said she understands how City Hall can seem threatening to some.
“Whenever we did need to interact with government, there was a sense of distrust or fear coming from my immigrant family,” she explained. Now, she said she hopes to change that.
“Now that I have the chance, and that humbling privilege to be on the other side of these doors and counters — for me it’s important to remember what it’s like in our communities on the outside and really try to get City Hall out of City Hall to meet people where they are,” she said.
As the city’s first mayor who is also a mother of two young boys, Wu said she has learned a lot of lessons about balancing work and home life.
When asked if her sons understand the enormity of her position, Wu just laughed.
“No, and I’d rather keep it that way,” she said. “The more that I can show how messy it is to be juggling family life and being in a leadership position, the more that I can show that it’s also a benefit having elected representation living the challenges every day.”
Her next goal is to fill a very important position that has been without a permanent replacement for almost a year — the city’s police commissioner.
Wu said she hopes to fill that position by the spring.
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