Boston Mayor Michelle Wu on Monday reiterated her support for City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo’s campaign for Suffolk County district attorney, dismissing critics who say he’s too inexperienced.
Wu said politicians who pitch ambitious change are often attacked as underqualified. And she praised Arroyo, a former public defender known as an advocate for police reform, for advancing a platform that is “exactly what we need.”
“Many of the comments that we’re hearing now are similar to those that we’ve heard for a long time when, in Massachusetts and in Boston, we’re trying to present a vision of change,” Wu said during an interview Monday morning on WBUR’s “Radio Boston.” “The same statement of someone not being old enough or experienced enough, in some ways, I think that is code and signal for upholding the status quo.”
Boston voters, she added, “have said over and over again that it is time to get down to root causes, put out a clear vision, and follow through.”
Wu, who has worked with Arroyo in City Hall, backed the councilor on Saturday over Democratic primary opponent Kevin Hayden. Hayden is running to keep the post after Republican Governor Charlie Baker appointed him to replace Rachael Rollins, who was sworn in as US attorney for Massachusetts in January.
Over the weekend, a spokesman for Hayden’s campaign panned Wu’s choice, calling the councilor underqualified.
“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,” the spokesman, Adam Webster, said in a statement sent to the Globe on Saturday night.
Arroyo, who graduated from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and went to law school at Loyola University Chicago, is known as a progressive, advocating for police reform with teeth, pushing to rein in overtime costs for the department, and calling for the dismantling of a controversial gang database used by Boston police. He also helped spearhead legislation that changed the way police in Boston respond to crowd control situations.
He has pledged to build on the work of Rollins, who promoted progressive reforms in the role, including declining to prosecute a slate of low-level, nonviolent crimes that she argued has resulted in over-incarceration, especially for people of color.
Arroyo has already picked up a number of other high-profile endorsements, including the backing of Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward J. Markey, former acting mayor Kim Janey, and a number of other local officials.
Hayden, Arroyo’s senior by about two decades, is the former chair of the state Sex Offender Registry Board and worked in the DA’s office from 1997 to 2008. He worked as an attorney in private practice for nearly 20 years.