Boston mayor defends holiday party for elected officials of color

BOSTON (AP) — Boston’s first Asian American mayor, Michelle Wu, is defending her decision to host a holiday party for elected officials of color.

Wu said the “Electeds of Color Holiday Party” held on Wednesday has been a fixture in Boston politics for more than a decade without any complaints.

Earlier this week, a member of Wu’s staff mistakenly sent the entire city council an invitation to the party at the city-owned Parkman House near the Massachusetts Statehouse. A short time later, a second email was sent out apologizing for the initial email. About half of the 13 people on the council aren’t white.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu speaks during a campaign rally in support of the statewide Massachusetts Democratic ticket, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022, in Boston. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm, File)

“There are many events that are private events for all sorts of groups, so we’ve clarified that and look forward to seeing everyone at one of the dozens of opportunities to celebrate the holidays,” Wu told reporters Wednesday.

She said the fact that the initial email went to all city councilors was “truly just an honest mistake that went out in typing the email field.”

Frank Baker, who was elected to the council in 2011, said a party limited to elected officials of color sends the wrong message.

“I think the holidays is a time for people — everyone — to get together. So we’ll see what happens,” Baker, who is white, told NBC10 Boston. “I do find it divisive, but what are you going to do about it?”

Baker did not seek reelection to another term next year.

“I don’t get offended.” Baker added. “You don’t want me at a party, I’m not going to come to a party.”


City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo, who is Latino, defended the holiday get-together,

“I think somebody wanted to make this an inflammatory issue and they’ve clearly succeeded,” Arroyo told reporters Wednesday.

Ricardo Patrón, Wu’s press secretary, said no city funds were used to pay for the party.

The fuss over the holiday party caps a year marked by infighting on the council that occasionally fell along racial lines. It wasn’t until 2020 that more than half of the city councilors were women and people of color.

It also comes amid pushback by conservatives against so-called diversity, equity and inclusion efforts around the country, including on college campuses and in the corporate world.

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Boston’s first Asian American mayor, Michelle Wu, is under scrutiny for hosting a holiday party for elected officials of color. Wu is defending her decision, saying that the “Electeds of Color Holiday Party” has been a tradition in Boston politics for over a decade without any complaints. The party was to be held at the city-owned Parkman House, but an initial email invitation was mistakenly sent to all city councilors, prompting an apology. Some city council members, including Frank Baker, have criticized the party as divisive, while others, such as Ricardo Arroyo, have defended the gathering. Wu’s press secretary clarified that no city funds were used to pay for the party. The controversy over the holiday event comes amid ongoing infighting on the council and pushback against diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. Some critics see the party as part of a broader backlash against such efforts. The issue has led to debates about inclusivity and diversity in Boston’s political landscape.

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