On a latest afternoon at Michelle Wu’s marketing campaign headquarters in Jamaica Plain, the candidate was on the run, chasing considered one of her two younger sons across the workplace.
Wu stated her son did not go to high school that morning on account of “some points and moods,” so she and her husband break up the day with him.
“We had popcorn spilled out everywhere in the workplace, a cup thrown in a tantrum and many operating round,” Wu stated.
In different phrases, life occurs — even within the midst of a historic mayoral marketing campaign. It is a reminder that whoever turns into Boston’s subsequent mayor subsequent month will for the primary time be a mom.
Till now, each elected mayor in Boston has been a white man. However in just some weeks, Boston voters will face a alternative of two metropolis councilors — Wu and Annissa Essaibi George.
Wu, 36, grew up in Chicago — the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants. She was usually the unofficial interpreter for her Chinese language-speaking dad and mom. And he or she by no means imagined that she would enter politics, not to mention run for mayor of Boston.
Rising up in a Chinese language household, Wu stated she was discouraged from speaking about herself in public or being confrontational. And he or she did not have the traits she usually related to politicians.
“I used to be none of these issues,” Wu stated. “Not tall, male, offended, loud.”
In 2003, Wu moved east to attend Harvard. And after she graduated, she started a journey that will finally take her into politics.
Her mom suffered from late onset schizophrenia, which developed right into a full blown psychological well being disaster. That compelled Wu to return to Chicago to assist take care of her ailing mum or dad and her two youthful sisters. She opened a small teahouse, however struggled to make it work. Then, she headed again to Massachusetts to attend Harvard Regulation College, this time together with her household.
Considered one of her sisters, for whom she was then serving as official guardian, attended the Eliot College, the place Lydia Torres was the assistant principal. Torres recounted how Wu turned actively concerned in her sister’s schooling, even becoming a member of the city-wide mum or dad council.
“I bear in mind a whole lot of the dad and mom would ask, ‘When did she have this child once more?’ ” Torres recalled. “This was her sister and he or she turned her guardian. She was very younger and he or she knew how you can be a mum or dad on the younger age.”
Whereas at Harvard, Wu studied contract legislation with Elizabeth Warren — who she stated was “sensible and terrifying.”
Warren, who has endorsed Wu for mayor, recalled a vivid scholar who sat within the entrance row, and who later labored on her first marketing campaign for the Senate. Warren stated again then, Wu was already targeted on how you can assist working households.
“Michelle and I’ve talked for years now concerning the significance of investing in youngster care,” Warren stated. “In order that mothers can go to work, in order that daddies can go to work, in order that youngsters have good early studying alternatives from the time they’re actually small.”
Wu says her personal expertise, together with struggling together with her mom’s psychological well being disaster, her sisters’ faculties and her personal effort to start out a small enterprise propelled her into politics.
She stated these experiences “burst the bubble on making an attempt to steer clear of politics and authorities.”
“It simply mattered a lot, and so many different individuals in comparable conditions had been battling that,” Wu stated.
After she graduated from legislation college in 2012, Wu married Conor Pewarski, who’s now a Boston banker. She additionally made the leap into politics.
Wu received an at-large seat on the Boston Metropolis Council in 2013 — the identical yr Essaibi George launched her first race and misplaced. Wu turned the primary Asian American to serve on the Council, becoming a member of Ayanna Pressley, the primary Black girl to serve on that physique.
“That yr we doubled the variety of girls serving on the council from one to 2,” Wu stated.
Wu was additionally the primary Asian American to function council president. She received re-election to the council 3 times, and was the highest vote-getter within the final two elections.
As a metropolis councilor, she championed a lot of progressive causes, together with the combat in opposition to the short-term rental firms like Airbnb that housing advocates blame for driving up rents.
Mayor Marty Walsh had a plan to rein them in, however Wu pushed for a harder one. Her fellow metropolis councilor Lydia Edwards says Walsh pressured Wu to undertake his method, and urged her to again down.
“And Michelle stated, ‘No. You again down.’ ” Edwards recalled. “And there was a form of backwards and forwards of who’s going to blink. And he or she did all of that, on this small room, whereas holding her toddler son.”
Ultimately, Walsh blinked first. Edwards stated she realized that when obligatory, Wu is “like a grenade: small, unassuming, and when pushed, extraordinarily highly effective.”
Wu’s agenda seems like a progressive want listing: common pre-Okay schooling, inexpensive youngster care and free public transportation. Her model of the Green New Deal not solely contains extra bushes and electrical college buses, but additionally initiatives to assault poverty and shut the racial wealth hole.
Her opponent, Essaibi George, calls it “pie within the sky” and unrealistic. Essaibi George, a life-long resident of Dorchester, additionally stated it is price stating that Wu grew up in Chicago.
“I believe it is related to a whole lot of voters whether or not or not they’re raised on this metropolis,” Essaibi George stated lately on GBH. “As a result of I’ve seen this metropolis for a lot of, a few years — being somebody who went to grammar college at St. Margaret’s grammar college, somebody who went to highschool right here in Boston. All of these little experiences definitely inform the work that I’ll do as mayor of this metropolis.
That sentiment might resonate with some lifelong Boston residents, one thing Wu understands. She recalled that when she first ran for Metropolis Council eight years in the past, voters usually quizzed her about her background.
“Folks needed to know the place I grew up, the place my mother lived, the place I went to high school,” Wu stated. “Sort of the everyday ‘what tribe of Boston do you belong to?’ “
However lately, Wu says voters have been extra targeted on points than the place individuals went to highschool.
“Within the 2019 election cycle, I am unsure anybody would know what neighborhood every of the town council candidates had been from,” Wu stated. “It was far more about what modifications are you going to convey? What communities will you signify?”
A WBUR poll final week discovered Wu main Essaibi George by a large margin throughout the town. Because the Nov. 2 election attracts close to, Wu is relying on help from a metropolis that’s altering — with a rising inhabitants of newcomers, together with youthful voters immigrants.
Fewer than half of Boston residents had been born in Massachusetts, in accordance with Census knowledge.
So Wu is in good firm within the metropolis she seeks to steer.