fb-pixel Skip to main content

Wu is criticized for apparent support for Linehan

Hailed as a new progressive voice in city leadership, City Councilor-elect Michelle Wu is taking some heat on Twitter for apparently backing Bill Linehan for president of the Boston City Council.

"Really Michelle?" wrote one person who uses the Twitter handle Boston Second.

"I'm disappointed the #WuTrain (who I voted for) took a detour to #Southie,'' bemoaned Ratty, another disappointed voter.

Many who commented said they opposed the quest by Linehan to become president because they do not see the South Boston councilor as a progressive voice on the body.

The council will vote on a new president Jan. 6, after the recently elected councilors are sworn in. However, councilors seeking the position typically seek to line up seven votes they need to secure a majority of the 12-member body well ahead of time.


If all goes as planned, Linehan, who has represented South Boston since 2007, will succeed Stephen J. Murphy, who has held the position for three terms, the maximum allowed.

Linehan and councilors Matt O'Malley of West Roxbury and Tito Jackson of Roxbury had been vying for the position. But Jackson eventually bowed out and threw his vote behind O'Malley.

O'Malley had also lined up commitments from councilor-at-large Ayanna Pressley, Frank Baker, councilor from Dorchester, Josh Zakim, who was newly elected to represent Mission Hill, and Timothy McCarthy, who was newly elected to represent Hyde Park. O'Malley was hoping to sway Wu, a 28-year-old lawyer who served as an aide to Elizabeth Warrens 2012 Senate campaign.

McCarthy had initially said he would back O'Malley.

But on Monday, McCarthy decided to support Linehan instead. McCarthy told the Globe Monday that he decided to support Linehan, a former colleague in the Parks Department, because of his close ties with Linehan and his family.

Wu, who did not respond to Globe requests for comment today, also pledged her support to Linehan, according to three people with knowledge of the process.


Linehan confirmed that he has seven committed votes — including his own -- but says he will continue to work to earn more from the other colleagues.

"This continues to be a process,'' Linehan said. "I feel comfortable that I have six votes besides myself. But I'm not satisfied with that. I'm hoping to get 10 or 11."

As president, he said he will work to ensure the council has more in influence and impact in how to move the city forward.

"I believe the council is truly poised for that and that my experience and the fact that the government is in transition will allow us to be more formidable,'' he said.

Linehan has faced criticism after a number of controversial statements, including a recent assertion that the host of the St. Patrick's Day breakfast should remain an elected official from South Boston.

He was re-elected last month after a fierce contest with Chinatown resident Suzanne Lee, who nearly defeated him in 2011. During the most recent election, four members on the council endorsed Lee.

Linehan hailed both McCarthy and Wu, saying McCarthy has a strong record in public service and a passion for this city. He called Wu a remarkable woman, with extraordinary capabilities.

"She'll drive a hard bargain to get the things that are valuable to her,'' he said, pointing to what he called her big step to voice support for him amid strong outside political pressure.


Meghan E. Irons can be reached at meghan.irons@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @meghanirons.