At-large Councilor Michelle Wu kicked off her re-election campaign in Charlestown on June 5 with about 70 people attending the event at Tangierino Restaurant.
Bolstered by supporters from the Town and the support of Councilor Lydia Edwards – who spoke on her behalf – the time was deemed a success.
Wu spoke extensively about the history of Charlestown and her affinity for the neighborhood and the community.
Councilor Edwards introduced Wu and spoke about their partnership in City Hall on issues from short-term rentals to affordable housing.
In a crowded field of more than a dozen candidates, Wu is seen as a front-runner having topped the ticket a few times already and having grown in popularity through her last term.
Though her issues are varied, one of the main things she is working on now is the potential renewing of Urban Renewal. The Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) has recently submitted a plan to the Council regarding their intention to have community meetings in each of the 16 areas – including Charlestown.
A recent meeting at City Hall run by Wu ended somewhat controversially, with the BPDA seemingly indicating that they intended to keep many of the larger Urban Renewal Areas like Charlestown rather than sunset them.
Wu said it was her understanding that the plan would be focused on how to phase out the Urban Renewal tool, and she is for that.
“I’m not sure they’ve even given the appropriate amount of time for public participation,” she said, noting that the meetings are set up for the largest areas like Charlestown and the South End to come last – close to the cut-off date for a final report on the process. “Urban Renewal is a by-product of a very different time in our country’s history…We are still acting like we need this powerful tool to deal with blight in our downtown areas when clearly development is advancing quickly. There’s a mismatch.”
She said agencies like the BPDA should be focusing on tools to make the City affordable and welcoming for those living here, not focusing on keeping archaic tools from the past to deal with blight that no longer exists. “We see that Boston is one of the hottest areas for residential development in the country and that’s resulted in displacement for people who have been here a long time,” she said. “Our City agencies should be focused on stabilizing and making Boston a city people can afford to live in. It shouldn’t be a case where the BPDA and Urban Renewal are tools to support further acceleration of development.”