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A day after victory, Michelle Wu spells out her top priority as she prepares to take power

Mayor-elect Michelle Wu departed after visiting The Underground Cafe in Roxbury on Wednesday morning.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

Mayor-elect Michelle Wu expressed hope for the future Wednesday morning in remarks to reporters after making history as the first woman, first person of color, and first Asian American to be popularly elected to the corner office in Boston.

“In 2021, we are still seeing barriers come down that can be a little surprising,” Wu told a scrum of reporters after a breakfast in Roxbury. “And I remember when I ran for City Council the first time, then-Councilor Ayanna Pressley was the only woman serving on the entire council. And now just four election cycles later, to be coming into office with a City Council that is reflective and representative of our communities, to keep building on the progress of this current administration, and to do the work for partnership with communities is incredibly meaningful.”

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The incoming mayor also spelled out her top priority as she prepares to take power in just a couple of weeks.

“The top priority is building out our team,” Wu said after grabbing a croissant and latte at The Underground Cafe. “This is about empowering a full team that is reflective of Boston, representative of the expertise in our communities, and connected to the urgency of the issues from the cabinet level all throughout the organization.”

In addition, Wu stressed that she and her team have a responsibility to deliver, now that they’ll be running the city.

“There’s an incredible responsibility and obligation and opportunity on our shoulders right now,” Wu said. “That requires a clear vision from City Hall and a convening to make the most use of all the activism and resources across our city.”

She said she hasn’t named a chief of staff yet and conceded that a two-week transition from campaigning to governing is unusual.

“But the goal and the priority will be that there will be a continuous ability to make sure residents are getting all the city services that are needed and that we have civility and a growing sense of what’s possible in city government,” Wu said.

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She also had kind words for her opponent in the general election, Councilor Annissa Essaibi George.

Wu said Essaibi George was “incredibly gracious in the conversation that we had last night, and I thanked her for her incredible commitment to Boston.”

She said she and Essaibi George reflected on the campaign during their election night chat.

“I know she’ll continue to be a partner in doing this work in the city that she loves deeply,” Wu said.

The mayor-elect had a busy day on her agenda Wednesday.

After the morning cafe stop in Roxbury, she attended a City Council meeting at noon. Essaibi George was also at her seat in the council chambers.

Tardy to the meeting because she forgot her City Hall pass, Wu entered a silent and seated Council chamber 15 minutes late. Essaibi George was already at her seat, a corsage of two light pink roses in plastic next to her microphone.

Wu’s appearance at the council meeting was to be followed by an afternoon meeting with Acting Mayor Kim Janey and a 5:20 p.m. School Committee meeting, which Wu will hit virtually, according to her campaign.

She said everything won’t be perfectly arranged the moment she’s formally sworn in as mayor.

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“We won’t have everything set by Nov. 16,” Wu said. “That is just the nature of what taking the time to do it right will entail. But we will be going as quickly as we can to get it right.”

Standing outside the coffee shop on a chilly morning, Wu laughed when a reporter asked if the historic nature of her win had sunk in. “Not particularly,” she said.

Life, like her transition, is marching on.

“We put the kids to bed last night, and they were, they were thrilled [about the win]. But they just wanted to know if they really had to go to school today,” Wu said, laughing. “The answer was yes.”

During the Underground breakfast Wednesday, Wu was with cafe owner Nia Grace and members of her campaign team. Wu wasn’t accompanied by any other elected officials or candidates.

Material from prior Globe stories was used in this report.


Matt Stout can be reached at matt.stout@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mattpstout. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.