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With major turnover on the horizon, some Boston councilors say goodbye

Kim Janey, left, and Andrea Campbell during their final City Council Meeting at City Hall. TOPIC: 16COUNCILErin Clark/Globe Staff

Wednesday represented a swan song for a handful of outgoing Boston city councilors, who marked the last meeting of their tenure on the city’s legislative body.

There were emotional speeches from Councilors Andrea Campbell, Annissa Essaibi George, Kim Janey, and Matt O’Malley, who are all leaving. And it looks like there will likely be another council departure in coming weeks.

Campbell, Essaibi George, and Janey all ran for mayor this year and lost; Campbell and Janey were eliminated in September’s preliminary election, while Essaibi George lost to Michelle Wu in last month’s general contest.

November’s general election featured an array of competitive council races, including five open seats, which will bring significant turnover to the city’s legislative body when new terms begin next month.


Before the meeting this week, Essaibi George said during a brief interview she doesn’t know what’s next for her. After her defeat in November’s mayoral contest, Essaibi George, a mother of four, said she has focused on her council work and her family in recent weeks. She did not rule out a run for governor, which has been rumored since Governor Charlie Baker declined to run for re-election, saying “I’d say it’s all on the table.” She said she has “mixed emotions” regarding the end of her council tenure.

“I think I have a normal dose of anxiety leaving the council,” said Essaibi George, who as an at-large councilor has represented the entire city for six years and was known for her advocacy regarding mental health and homelessness, as well as her work on educational issues.

During Wednesday’s meeting, Essaibi George told her colleagues, “I trust that the work that has been left undone will be done.”

Likewise, Campbell, who was the first Black woman to serve as council president in city history, said in a text this week that she has not made a decision about what she will do after her council term expires. A six-year veteran of the council, Campbell was known as a police reform stalwart. Her district is largely comprised of Mattapan and Dorchester.


Addressing Janey directly during Wednesday’s meeting, Campbell thanked her for showing that a Black, female mayor in Boston is possible.

“There is more than enough room for a whole bunch of Black women to run,” said Campbell.

Janey became the city’s first Black mayor and first female mayor earlier this year after Martin J. Walsh left City Hall in March. She was Boston’s acting executive until Wu was sworn in last month. Now, she is leaving public office, months after she was eliminated from the mayoral race in September’s preliminary.

City Council President Kim Janey wiped tears from her eyes while listening to her fellow councilors share with her their farewell remarks. TOPIC: 16COUNCILErin Clark/Globe Staff

Janey was first elected to the City Council in 2017, to a seat representing District 7, which includes the vast majority of Roxbury and parts of the South End, Dorchester, and the Fenway area. She cruised to reelection in 2019. She became council president in early 2020, marking the first time someone from Roxbury had served in that role since the mid-1980s.

Janey has yet to publicly say what she plans to do next. On Wednesday she said she was planning to make an announcement in January.

At the meeting, Janey was effusive in her thanks, saying she was grateful for colleagues, City Hall staff, and her family, including her mother and daughter, both of whom were in attendance.


“You have been the reason I do what I do,” she said.

O’Malley, who did not run for mayor this year, plans to become an executive at steam plant owner Vicinity Energy, where he will oversee the company’s efforts to cut carbon emissions caused by its steam heating and cooling networks. He has served on the council for more than a decade, where he was known as an environmental advocate. His council district stretches from Jamaica Plain, through parts of Roslindale, and into West Roxbury.

“This truly has been my dream job,” he said on Wednesday.

Councilor Matt O’Malley held his 1-year-old daughter Margot while attending his final City Council Meeting. Erin Clark/Globe Staff

At the start of Wednesday’s meeting, Mayor Wu presented the four outgoing councilors with gifts — Revere bowls with their names and titles engraved on them.

Barring anything unforeseen, there will likely be another council vacancy soon. Councilor Lydia Edwards, an East Boston Democrat, declared victory Tuesday in a special primary for the state Senate.

With no Republican on Tuesday’s ballot, Edwards is almost certain to take the general election on Jan. 11.

Danny McDonald can be reached at Follow him @Danny__McDonald.