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Arroyos endorse Kim Janey’s mayoral bid

Rep. Elugardo, union locals also declare support for Janey

Brian Wright O’Connor
Arroyos endorse Kim Janey’s mayoral bid
Acting Mayor Kim Janey speaks during an endorsement event in Cleary Square. PHOTO: ERINT IMAGES

Acting Mayor Kim Janey picked up key endorsements last week from the prominent Arroyo family as well as a leading progressive state legislator, boosting her campaign to hold on to power at City Hall in a close mayoral contest.

Suffolk County Register of Probate Felix D. Arroyo, the first Latino to win a citywide seat on the Boston City Council, and his son, Ricardo Arroyo, the District 5 councilor from Hyde Park, delivered their backing to the acting mayor during a spirited rally in Cleary Square.

The endorsements came days after state Rep. Jon Santiago, the only Latino in the race, dropped out, opening up a lane for the remaining City Hall rivals to pursue public support from Latino influencers who had been sitting on the sidelines.

Less than 48 hours after the Arroyos blessed Janey’s bid, state Rep. Nika Elugardo, a popular Jamaica Plain progressive, also threw her support to the mayor. Tuesday, she was endorsed by 32BJ SEIU, the union local representing janitors and security guards, and United Food and Cafeteria Workers 1145 — unions representing largely immigrant workforces.

Recent polls show Janey running neck-and-neck with citywide councilor Michelle Wu, while other City Hall hopefuls trail behind in the push to become one of two finalists from the Sept. 14 non-partisan preliminary election to make the Nov. 2 final.

Polls also show that 18% of Latino voters back Janey while 33% are undecided, representing a lode of electoral opportunity. The same polls indicate Black voters overwhelmingly support Janey, whose role as Boston City Council president elevated her to acting mayor after Marty Walsh cleared out of the fifth-floor office in March to become labor secretary in President Biden’s cabinet. District 4 City Councilor Andrea Campbell trails Janey as African Americans’ second choice.

Speaking at times in Spanish under cloudy skies in the bustling business district of Hyde Park, Janey signaled on Saturday her intention to replicate the Rainbow Coalition that the elder Arroyo helped assemble in Mel King’s landmark mayoral bid when he became the first candidate of color to make the final.

“As a young girl, I handed out flyers for Mel King in 1983 but now here I am the first Black mayor of Boston,” said Janey, praising both Arroyos for breaking political barriers for Latinos and people of color in Boston and Suffolk County politics. She called the father-and-son pair “two of Boston’s greatest warriors on the front lines of the fight for justice and equity in our city.”

“We have to give everyone a chance. E por eso que hablo espanol!” said the former Roxbury councilor with a convincing Spanish accent as a crowd of 200 supporters cheered and passing cars honked.

Hovering along the edge of the claque was Felix G. Arroyo, brother of Ricardo, who also served as a citywide councilor before launching his own bid for mayor in 2013.

Colette Phillips, a well-known business and media consultant, opened the Cleary Square endorsement event with a call for structural change that broadens access to power and prosperity to all the city’s diverse populations. “We have the opportunity with Mayor Janey to meet the moment,” said Phillips. “If you look at the people standing here right now, what you see is the city we want to create, where everyone has a seat at the table.”

The elder Arroyo called Janey’s bid for a full term as mayor “the beginning of a new Boston.”

“You’ve heard this before, but this time it’s going to happen,” said Arroyo as someone in the excited crowd of post-pandemic supporters shouted, “Black-girl magic!”

Councilor Ricardo Arroyo praised Janey’s poise in managing a challenging portfolio of issues as she walked into the mayor’s office, including the response to the pandemic and handling an open investigation into the police commissioner named by Walsh.

Arroyo also cited Janey’s leadership on the recent municipal budget and its inclusion of long-sought funding for a Hyde Park health center.

“She has met every challenge with grace, dignity and equity,” said Arroyo. “She has been tested and she has passed. I don’t think she will be a great mayor. She is one.”

After accepting the Arroyos’ endorsements, Janey called for her trademark Converse sneakers, the better to wear for canvasing Hyde Park streets than her snakeskin print mid-heel sandals.

“Thanks everyone for being here not to create a strong campaign but build a movement,” she added before stepping away from the podium, sneakers in hand.