Here’s what Mayor Wu said about crucial school and police appointments she will make

Michelle Wu has some big decisions ahead.

Mayor Michelle Wu arrives at City Hall for her first full day as mayor on Wednesday. Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

Mayor Michelle Wu, who was only a day into her new job on Wednesday, is already facing some big decisions about who will lead the city alongside her, including for four seats on the Boston School Committee and for the city’s next police commissioner.

Michelle Wu takes office

Wu will have to soon appoint nominees to four open seats on the School Committee — a majority of the seven-member board — and a new chief official for the Boston Police Department, which has operated under an acting commissioner since February.

All are opportunities for Wu to acquire supporters in key positions necessary to help carry out her vision.


Wu has long insisted on bringing about reforms to Boston’s police force, including reallocating funding for the department, for instance.

A mother of two Boston Public Schools students, Wu’s stake in the success of the district’s governing board is also more than just political.

And she’s made clear she wants to give her fellow student families more voice in district operations.

Reiterating a focus to bring City Hall to every corner of Boston, Wu said on Wednesday the city must be having larger discussions on how to engage and garner more community feedback when it comes to the school system.

“As we’re thinking about bigger picture changes to the structure of the School Committee and governance, we need to be pushing for members who already, given the structure that we currently have, want to be pushing in that direction,” Wu told reporters.

On the School Committee

The School Committee has numerous responsibilities: The board is charged with defining the district’s goals, mission, and vision; managing and evaluating the superintendent; creating and monitoring the yearly operating budget; and determining and reviewing district policies.

The seven committee members are selected by the mayor based on a list of candidates recommended by a 13-member Citizens Nominating Panel.


Members serve four-year terms.

The committee has endured a rather unusual year: In October 2020, then-Chairman Michael Loconto resigned after he appeared to mock names of people who signed up to speak at a meeting.

In February, then-Mayor Marty Walsh tapped Ernani DeAraujo to serve out the rest of Loconto’s term.

But two other members, Chairwoman Alexandra Oliver-Dávila and Lorna Rivera also resigned in June after racially-charged text messages the two exchanged during the same meeting Loconto was heard on a hot-mic came to light.

In July, acting Mayor Kim Janey appointed Lorena Lopera and Rafaela Polanco Garcia to fill the two seats. But appointments made under an acting mayor cannot be permanent, per the city charter.

So Wu will have to appoint nominees to those two seats in addition to two seats currently held by DeAraujo and Hardin Coleman, whose terms are slated to end.

The nominating panel is accepting applications for candidates for the latter two seats through Nov. 24.

Wu said Wednesday her office has already received a list of applicants.

“There’s a list — a short list — of folks that I have not yet had the chance to go through but we’ll hope to speak with some of these individuals and move quickly on that,” she said.


Asked for what she looks for in committee members, Wu mentioned the need for larger conversations on making the district’s business more accessible to families.

“I’ve spoken with the superintendent and chair of the School Committee already about moving towards more community listening sessions out in the neighborhoods, for example, rather than only having School Committee meetings where residents can testify for two minutes late at night,” Wu said.

“We’ve talked about really wanting to push for multilingual outreach to be part of every phase of decision making,” she continued. “And most important: There are still pressing issues related to pandemic recovery that I want to ensure that our school leaders and district leaders have a firm grasp on.”

As for the other two seats — currently filled by Lopera and Polanco — Wu, as a candidate earlier this year, pledged to again fill the positions with two Latina members.

On the police commissioner

Police Commissioner Dennis White was only on the job for a few days in February when he was placed on leave after decades-old domestic violence allegations surfaced.

He was ultimately fired by Janey in June after the city hired an attorney to investigate the allegations. Superintendent-In-Chief Gregory Long has served as acting commissioner since White was first placed on leave.

Wu said on Tuesday she plans to identify people to serve on a group that will seek community input on White’s successor and then source candidates for the position.

She said more details on that will come soon, and the group will likely get underway in the coming weeks.


Shortly before she was sworn in, Wu unveiled her core team of Cabinet advisors, which includes her campaign manager Mary Lou Akai-Ferguson serving as her interim chief of staff.

Undoubtedly, there will still be many more appointments to make in the coming months.

“We still have much to do in terms of continuing to build out the team at City Hall,” Wu told reporters on Tuesday. “Every single briefing I’ve had with departments, there are many many roles that need to be filled quickly.”


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