Here’s what Marty Walsh said about Michelle Wu’s entrance into the 2021 mayoral race

"I have great respect for her or anyone who runs for office."

Mayor Marty Walsh speaks to reporters at Boston City Hall on Sept. 10.
Mayor Marty Walsh speaks to reporters at Boston City Hall on Sept. 10. –Barry Chin / The Boston Globe

Mayor Marty Walsh on Tuesday commended City Councilor At-Large Michelle Wu for her official foray into the city’s 2021 mayoral race, but stopped short of responding to criticisms leveled against his administration from the fellow Democrat.

“I have great respect for her or anyone who runs for office,” Walsh told reporters during a press conference geared toward COVID-19 pandemic updates. “I look forward to more conversations about how we can move our city forward.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Wu formally launched her campaign for next year’s election after long being considered a potential challenger to the two-term incumbent. The announcement came just over a week after Walsh confirmed to The Boston Globe that Wu had called him to express her intent to run.

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Walsh, speaking at the media briefing, maintained that he is focused primarily on the city’s efforts to battle the spread of coronavirus and the pandemic’s ramifications, including the financial blow dealt to the local economy and the intricacies of students’ impending return to Boston Public Schools on Sept. 21.

“We’re housing hundreds of homeless individuals and families,” Walsh said. “We are preparing to open a stunning new library in Nubian Square in Roxbury. We’re advancing historic reforms with our police department, and at the same time we’re focused on electing Joe Biden and Kamala Harris so my administration can have a partner in Washington over the next four years, and that’s quite honestly what I’m working on right now.”

Wu, in a video announcing her run, says even before the onset of the health crisis, residents have been “fighting a system that wasn’t built for us, doesn’t speak our languages, doesn’t hear our voices.”

“Business as usual has been failing Bostonians since well before the pandemic, and COVID-19 has exposed and exacerbated deep inequities across our city,” Wu, a first-generation Taiwanese-American and the first woman of color to serve as City Council president, said in a statement. “In this moment of crisis, it’s not only possible but necessary to reimagine community-based leadership with the vision and conviction to act.”

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Wu has butted-heads with Walsh’s administration in certain areas lately, including in June, when the progressive stalwart criticized the city’s $3.6 billion operating budget for fiscal year 2021, saying the mayor’s financial plan “falls short of the transformational steps towards racial justice needed to meet this moment.”

Asked about whether the city needs to be more representative of its residents of color and for a response to Wu’s criticism on how he has handled racial and economic inequities, Walsh said those discussions will come later on.

“I’m not going to get into a political debate today,” the mayor said. “As I said, I commend the councilor on her decision. There will be plenty of time down the road to have many conversations about what direction Boston is going in and at that point, we’ll address all those.”

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