Boston Mayor Michelle Wu backed City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo in the race for the Suffolk county district attorney’s office during a press conference Saturday afternoon at Adams Park in Roslindale.
Wu, a former city councilor who had worked with Arroyo, hailed his work as an elected leader, including his leadership of the council’s Government Operations committee. She also praised his service as a former public defender, and called him “the last line of defense” in an unjust system.
“In this moment of tremendous challenge, as we are still trying to pick up the pieces from the pandemic, let us use those pieces to reimagine something bolder, brighter, more equitable, more prosperous for all of us,” Wu said. “This is a campaign about possibility, this is a campaign about justice, this is a campaign about the people.”
Arroyo, a second-term councilor, is facing current Suffolk District Attorney Kevin Hayden in the Democratic primary this September. Hayden was picked in January by Governor Charlie Baker, a Republican, to finish the term of former Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins.
Adam Webster, a spokesperson for Hayden’s campaign, said Arroyo is underqualified for the job.
“If Mayor Wu believes a novice attorney with zero public safety experience should be the top law enforcement officer in the county, that’s her choice. We’re confident voters will disagree,” Webster said in a statement sent to the Globe on Saturday night.
Rollins was picked by President Biden to serve as US attorney for Massachusetts, and was sworn into office in January.
Arroyo was still a public defender when Rollins ran for district attorney in 2018, he said at the press conference, and described her campaign in aspirational terms.
“I saw in her hope. I saw in her, for the first time in my life, a district attorney who was going to center racial and class disparities, who was going to center smart policies on reducing crime,” Arroyo said.
Arroyo said he would continue Rollins’ work if elected as the next Suffolk District attorney.
“We have made more progress in three years than we have ever made in this district attorney’s office on the issues of making sure people get the services and resources that they need,” Arroyo said, including in areas like addressing addiction and mental health.
“I am not willing to allow us to lose a single step of progress that we have made,” Arroyo said.
Arroyo pledged to reduce crime and recidivism as Suffolk district attorney and provide needed services to communities, according to Arroyo.
“When we see children in trauma, in need of resources, love, and care, we should not be instead handing them GPS bracelets and incarceration,” Arroyo said. “We should be handing them programming, love, and attention, and we should be making sure we are centering [on] their healing, not harm.”
Globe correspondent Nick Stoico contributed to this report.