Ed Flynn, a district councilor from South Boston, announced Wednesday that he has enough support to become the body’s president in January.
In a brief release, Flynn said he received support from “a majority of councilors” but did not detail who exactly was backing him. Attempts to reach Flynn Wednesday afternoon were not immediately successful.
“I am honored that my colleagues have placed their trust in me to take on this role,” said Flynn, 53, in a statement. “I look forward to supporting all of our City Councilors and our exceptional Central Staff team as we work hard to provide city services to every community and make Boston the best city it can be.”
Flynn would preside over a diverse legislative body that will see considerable turnover in the new year thanks to five open seats during this fall’s municipal election. The newcomers are Ruthzee Louijeune, Erin Murphy, Brian Worrell, Kendra Hicks, and Tania Fernandes Anderson.
Murphy was sworn in to her at-large seat about a month ahead of schedule during Wednesday’s council meeting. She is filling a seat vacated by Mayor Michelle Wu, who was sworn in as the city’s executive last month.
The council typically votes in a new president at the start of its term in January. The presidency is the ceremonial leader of the 13-member council. The post does have the power to select committee assignments for the body’s members. A council president can create new committees if they so choose and typically they preside over full meetings of the body. They can also choose which council committees receive specific line items the council is considering.
And, if the mayor is unable to serve for any reason, or if the position becomes vacant, the council president steps into that role, which is exactly what happened earlier this year with Flynn’s predecessor, Kim Janey.
Janey became acting mayor when Martin J. Walsh left City Hall for President Biden’s Cabinet earlier this year. Janey was defeated in a mayoral primary in September. She has returned to her role as council president — she presided over a full meeting of the council on Wednesday for the first time in months — although she is one of multiple councilors who will not be returning for a new term in January.
Flynn is seen as a moderate voice on a council that has skewed increasingly to the left in recent years. For instance, he has publicly supported hiring hundreds of more police officers in the city, while many of his colleagues — including Wu —have pushed for more systemic police reform.
He is the son of Raymond L. Flynn, a former Boston mayor who also served as the US ambassador to the Vatican during his political career. His council district includes South Boston and Chinatown, and parts of the South End and downtown.
Flynn first won election to the council in 2017 and cruised to reelection both in 2019 and this fall, running unopposed in both contests. Before he was a councilor, Flynn, a US Navy veteran, worked as a probation officer.
Flynn will preside over a council that holds more fiscal power than in previous years after voters last month approved a binding ballot question to change the city’s budget process. That revamping of Boston’s budget process will allow the City Council to modify appropriations, as long as its revised budget does not exceed the amount originally proposed by the mayor.
Under the city’s previous structure, which frustrated councilors for years, the council could approve or deny the mayor’s proposed budget but can transfer funds only if the mayor requests it. The new measure allows the mayor to accept or reject the council’s version of the budget and amend any line item in that version. The council would be able to override the mayor’s veto or amendments by a two-thirds vote.
The proposal would take effect for next year’s budget process, meaning whomever Flynn selects as chair of the council’s ways and means committee will likely play a crucial role in guiding the body through the new process.
In other council business on Wednesday, councilors recommended a slew of names to Wu to fill three spots on a newly formed civilian review board that is charged with reviewing complaints made against Boston officers.
The council chose nine names from more than 80 applications for the mayor’s consideration for the board, which will fall under the new police watchdog in the city known as the Office of Police Accountability and Transparency, or OPAT.
“The hardest part of this process was trying to winnow that field down to nine,” said Councilor Matt O’Malley on Wednesday.
Councilor Andrea Campbell said the civilian review board will play an “incredibly important role” in the city.
In early January, then-mayor Walsh signed an ordinance creating OPAT. The new oversight agency would provide research and administrative support to a nine-member civilian review board and an internal affairs oversight panel.
The nine posts for the civilian review board include six mayoral appointments chosen from a pool recommended by local advocacy groups and three mayoral appointments chosen from a pool submitted by the City Council.
Board members have to live in the city and cannot be current members of law enforcement. The nine names put forward by the City Council on Wednesday were Mona Connolly Casper, Maria Dolorico, Anne Hernandez, Luis Lopez, Zachary Lown, Carrie Mays, Tara Register, Chanda Smart, and Benjamin Thompson.