Mayor Marty Walsh delivered his final State of the City address Tuesday after accepting the Secretary of Labor nomination for the incoming Biden-Harris administration.
If Walsh is confirmed by the Senate, Boston City Council President Kim Janey would take over as acting mayor. She would be the first female and first Black mayor in the city’s history.
“I’ve spoken with Councilor Janey, and we’ve begun the transition,” Walsh said from the Roxbury Branch of the Boston Public Library. “I want you to know the work we have done together for the past seven years has prepared Boston to build back stronger than ever.”
Walsh recognized health care workers, essential workers and the more than 1,000 Bostonians who died of COVID-19. After the unprecedented difficulties of 2020, Walsh said 2021 will be “a year for healing.”
“We are a city aching with loss,” Walsh said. “Not a day goes by that I am not speaking with a grieving family member, a worker facing unemployment or a small business owner struggling to hang on.”
Walsh outlined major administrative priorities for the city in the coming year, including providing free COVID-19 testing and expanding access to vaccines.
He added that safely returning students to Boston Public Schools — where classes have been mostly virtual since March of last year — is also a priority. BPS released an updated timeline Monday presenting all students the option of in-person learning by April.
“This is a community committed to learning,” Walsh said. “We are ready to do more now than ever to close the opportunity gaps that COVID further exposed.”
The mayor added that more work needs to be done to address systemic racism in the city and thanked Black Bostonians who rallied for change after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis this summer.
“I’m asking all of us to accept this responsibility as our own and commit to fighting racism,” Walsh said. “It’s our deepest moral obligation and it’s our greatest opportunity for growth.”
Walsh also discussed economic recovery, citing $8.5 billion of new investment in the city in 2020, which has the potential to create 35,000 new jobs. Small businesses also received $26 million in resources to combat the recession, according to the mayor.
“I want businesses and working families to know that we are moving forward,” Walsh said. “As we build back, we can bring these good jobs to every neighborhood.”
He added that Boston is “taking new steps forward” in affordable housing, becoming the first city in the United States to write fair housing requirements into its zoning codes.
Frontrunners in 2021’s mayoral race — Michelle Wu and Andrea Campbell — tweeted their support for Walsh.
“As we recover from the pandemic & reimagine our shared future, city leadership is more important than ever,” Wu wrote in a Tuesday afternoon tweet.
Campbell echoed these sentiments, but added residents should remain mindful of the future.
“This year is an opportunity for us to recover from this pandemic and reimagine what our city can be without persistent inequities,” she wrote in a tweet following Walsh’s address. “But the progress we make will mean nothing if we do not value the humanity in one another.”
Walsh closed out the address with words of thanks to Boston residents, his family, his staff members and fellow government employees for their support during his seven years as mayor.
“The truth is, I’m not going to Washington alone,” he said. “I’m bringing Boston with me. This city is not just my hometown, it’s my heart.”