November 10, 2021
A former local lawmaker and the head of a Dorchester-based union are on Mayor-elect Michelle Wu’s roster of transition advisers as she moves toward her swearing-in next Tuesday and beyond.
Charlotte Golar Richie, a former state lawmaker who served in Mayor Thomas Menino’s cabinet and was one of the 12 candidates who ran to succeed him in 2013, is an honorary co-chair of Wu’s transition, the mayor-elect’s camp announced this week.
Jay Gonzalez, a former state budget chief for Gov. Deval Patrick and a 2018 gubernatorial candidate, is also a co-chair. Acting Mayor Kim Janey, who will pass the reins of city government over to Wu on Tuesday, is serving as the honorary chair.
Community activist Noemi “Mimi” Ramos, the executive director of New England United 4 Justice, and Joe Byrne, the executive secretary-treasurer of the Dorchester-based North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters, are also among the members of the advisory team.
The group will “advance key priorities during the condensed transition period, support the early days of the Wu Administration, and ensure close, collaborative ties to communities across Boston,” a release from the transition team said.
Other members include Ali Fong, chef and co-founder of the popular food truck and restaurant company Bon Me, public relations executive Micho Spring, climate activist Kannan Thiruvengadam, and Mitchell Weiss, a Harvard Business School professor and former Menino aide.
Separately, Wu announced her first cabinet picks on Wednesday: Dr. Monica Bharel, who served as the state’s public health commissioner before stepping down in June, is to become a “senior adviser” to Wu, focused on the substance use disorder and homelessness crisis at Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard.
Wu also said she is reappointing Sheila Dillon, the housing chief who has previously worked for the Walsh and Menino administrations. Dillon, who also lists director of development for the Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation on her resume, will work closely with Bharel on the issues at “Mass. and Cass,” as the area is known.
Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, executive director of the city’s Public Health Commission, will be elevated to Wu’s cabinet, and Marty Martinez, health and human services chief former mayor Marty Walsh, is staying on to support the transition as a “senior adviser.”
Wu plans to take the oath of office at noon, with the scene set for the City Council chamber. The location, according to Wu, allows her team to go “right back to work across the hall in the mayor’s office.” A “full inauguration” is scheduled for January.
The mayor-elect has been participating in daily briefings, climbing up and down City Hall’s stairs for meetings on topics ranging from Boston Public Schools to the police, a department which is a target for reforms as a handful of officers stand accused of theft of funds and abuse on the job.
Wu says she has a “daily check-in” with Janey, who took over in March, after Dorchester’s Walsh was tapped for the role of US labor secretary.
A member of the 13-member council since 2014, Wu is already familiar with the city’s operations and multibillion dollar budget. “It’s pretty thrilling now getting the chance to think about how to really take steps and move on plans to make those changes,” she told reporters on Monday.
The to-do list is “quite significant,” Wu said. ““There’s a lot to do and a lot that has been pressing for a while.”
On Saturday, after a day full of briefings, Wu and her family were able to slip away to Dorchester for dinner. They visited Fields Corner’s Pho Hoa, a Vietnamese restaurant that Wu calls their “usual family comfort food spot” and “one of our favorite restaurants in the city.”
Noodle soup was on the menu, though the mayor-elect said she had to start rushing due to the late hour and as her children, Blaise and Cass, began to throw noodles while in the restaurant booth.
Wu, a Roslindale resident, said, “We are probably at Pho Hoa multiple times a month.”
This post was updated Wednesday with the names of Mayor-elect Wu's first cabinet picks.