Gerly Adrien, who made history by becoming the first Black woman elected to Everett City Council in 2019 and who has publicly sparred with Mayor Carlo DeMaria, announced Friday that she’s running against him.
Calling for “bold new leadership to reimagine city hall,” Adrien aims to unseat the mayor of 13 years, who began serving on the council in 1994.
“As we have discussed through this pandemic, I think we need a leader who’s going to help our residents directly, where they can feel the impact and still have hope in their government,” Adrien said Friday.
Adrien entered the race just hours after Ward City Councilor Fred Capone, a councilor since 2013, declared his candidacy for mayor, pointing to a rocky reelection year for DeMaria.
The two councilors are among the few who vocally buck the mayor’s agenda and both indicated they are running against him to check his lock on power. Capone, the top vote-getter among all Everett councilors in 2019, said he would push for more transparency, accountability, and inclusion in city government.
“It’s time for us to move in a better direction that is more inclusive for all of our residents. Not just the few and not just the friends,” said Capone.
DeMaria, who recently kicked off his reelection campaign, expressed confidence in the community’s appreciation of his record, particularly on job creation and revitalizing public spaces.
“As Mayor, my focus has been and will continue to be on all the work that we have done to help improve the quality of life in Everett for our residents,” DeMaria said in a statement Friday. “I look forward to continuing to lead the city into a period of growth and prosperity to better the quality of life of all of our residents.”
The race could prove to be a showdown between the old and the new Everett, which is now one of the most diverse communities in the state. The insular city government has long been dominated by white politicians, often from the same families, though white, non-Hispanic residents now make up less than 44 percent of Everett’s population, according to 2019 census estimates. The rest of the population is roughly 28 percent Latino, 16.5 percent Black, and 8 percent Asian, according to American Community Survey data from 2019.
Adrien, a daughter of Haitian immigrants, claimed an upset win by topping the field of at-large candidates in 2019; she was one of three people of color to join the previously all-white council.
Since then, she has made a name for herself by standing up to her fellow councilors, who have resisted her requests for information and criticized her actions.
In her newly released campaign video, she alludes to those challenges.
“At one point or another, each of us have felt left out and overlooked by our government,” Adrien says. “Many of our residents still feel unheard. I know firsthand what the struggle feels like.”
Last fall, several councilors suggested she resign if she did not agree to attend meetings in person during the pandemic. Adrien had been attending virtually but was blamed for technology problems that turned out to be the fault of the city’s equipment. Capone stood alone on the council, saying no one should be pressured to attend — and noting that the council’s bungled use of technology was violating the public meeting law.
He called himself “embarrassed” by that and other rancorous episodes at Everett City Council meetings.
“It’s unfortunate. It’s unprofessional and it’s not serving the people,” Capone said.
An outpouring of support for Adrien followed, with politicians from the region and constituents from Everett rallying outside City Hall on her behalf. Among her supporters was Kim Janey, now acting mayor of Boston, who declared: “We will stand with Gerly, and we will stand against racism.”
More recently, the mayor fumed over Adrien’s reactions to his remarks during a February virtual City Council meeting. Adrien wrote a Boston Globe opinion piece and spoke on Boston Public Radio about how, as a Black woman in politics, she feels subjected to relentless scrutiny of her appearance and her demeanor. DeMaria maintained that Adrien was being “rude” and unprofessional.
Adrien, 31, a small business owner with an MBA and a background in finance, recently advocated for a change in the city’s election structure. All councilors are currently elected citywide in Everett — an unusual method that has been successfully challenged in Lowell and other cities under the Voting Rights Act. Everett is currently seeking a charter change that could go into effect as soon as this fall and that would call for ward councilors to be chosen only by the voters of their wards.
Stephanie Ebbert can be reached at Stephanie.Ebbert@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @StephanieEbbert.