Boston Mayor Michelle Wu has officially endorsed Boston City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo for Suffolk County district attorney — a position she's stood by despite criticism that he lacks experience.
Meanwhile, the Engagement Center at Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard in Boston shut down for five days last month after a series of stabbings in the area and hasn't returned to full capacity since.
We caught up with Wu in one of our regular monthly check-ins, "Mondays with the Mayor."
Highlights from this interview have been lightly edited for clarity.
On her endorsement of Boston City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo for Suffolk County district attorney and his opponent's criticism:
"I think many of the comments that we're hearing now are similar to those that we've heard for a long time. When in Massachusetts and in Boston, we're trying to present a vision of change that can build community. And in this case, his platform of really reducing crime while healing and providing the resources to build community is exactly what we need. And so the same statements of someone not being old enough or experienced enough, in some ways I think that is code and signal for upholding the status quo. And it's clear that the residents of Boston in the mayor's race in so many issue area campaigns and in other races have said over and over again that it is time to get down to root causes, put out a clear vision and follow through."
On recent acts of violence around Boston:
"We know that safety has to be a baseline for everyone living in Boston, visiting Boston, getting to know our city. And that every single instance of violence or public safety concern is unacceptable. We also know that overall Boston is in a different place than many other large cities where, in fact, our statistics and the numbers around public safety have been quite low and remain quite low overall... In terms of the young people who have been the subject of many media stories and in fact, whose identities never should have been leaked to the media as they are minors... there have been services provided and there's been some accountability for adults in their lives. Agencies across the city, state and county level have been coordinating very closely to make sure that we could wraparound support there."
On the Boston school committee's decision to permanently close Mission Hill School:
"The top priority is to ensure a supportive, healthy, positive transition for the students and educators who are at the school... We're working family by family to make sure that, for example, the school district has reserved seats in some of the schools in the immediate vicinity and are working very closely to support those transitions...
"There were no good choices here. This is a situation from years ago that continued to have ripple effects. And because the accountability and action was so delayed from years ago, we were left with very difficult choices... This is a clear call that every single school, every single classroom needs to be a place where our young people are not only safe, but supported. And if there are incidents that arise, there cannot be an excuse or a culture or a feeling that it will affect a school's numbers the wrong way if something gets reported... I know that that is what all of our school leaders are working toward. And we look to make sure, as we're transitioning leadership of the district as well, that this is deeply ingrained in how we are setting the visions and goals and pathway forward."
On the recent closure of the Engagement Center at 'Mass. and Cass':
"The winter push to make sure that as many of the long-term residents of the former encampments are connected to housing was urgent, and it was about addressing a humanitarian crisis... While we continue to see great progress from that push and have currently about 180 former residents of the encampments now in low threshold, supportive housing, accessing treatment and care, and a number of whom have already moved from this low threshold transitional housing into permanent housing in other parts of the state. We continue to see with the warming weather, large crowds gathering, and that has been difficult for public safety. It's been difficult because there are other issues that are connected to crowds. There's been some very troubling drug trafficking.
"The staff at the center and the Boston Public Health Commission are working to provide resources and programming so that we can increase access across the city and not have everything concentrated in one place. And so in the immediate term, for the health and well-being and safety of everyone involved, the decision was made to create some space. But we look to expand access to those services and make sure that there's not only housing but the ability for transportation access with the shuttle system that we've set up to connect people to services throughout the day... We're working very quickly on that and want to make sure that in all parts of the city that there's safety and that we can begin to expand the access and decentralize."
This segment aired on May 9, 2022.