• Jessie O' Leary

A Profile of Boston's City Council

Updated: Mar 16

Of the nine district councilors on Boston’s City Council, one-third of them are brand new to politics. Taking office on January 3, Brian Worrell, Kendra Lara, and Tania Fernandes Anderson, all Democrats, add more than just a fresh perspective—they are much needed representatives and activists for a changing city.

In the 1970s, 70% of Boston was white. Although the city has become more diverse over time, now being 44.5% white, its elected offices are still playing catch up. On March 24, 2021, Kim M. Janey was sworn in as the Acting Mayor of Boston after former mayor Marty Walsh joined Biden's Cabinet, making her the first woman and Black person to hold the office. Mayor Michelle Wu was elected only 2 months ago as the first elected woman of color to hold the office. Now, the three City Council newcomers are tipping the scale towards a more representative body of leaders.

Photo Courtesy: Boston Herald

Councilor Worrell is the first Black man to serve on the council since 2017, when Tito Jackson left his seat to run for mayor. Councilor Lara is the first woman of color to serve as a District 6 councilor, while Councilor Anderson is the first Muslim councilor in Boston’s history, as well the first African immigrant.

All three councilors have backgrounds in advocacy for underrepresented communities, coming from organizations like Noah’s Advocate, a mental health nonprofit founded by Anderson, and Resist, where Lara was Director of Radical Philanthropy. Worrell has organized a vaccine clinic, a Holiday Toy Drive and other various community activities over a span of 16 years.

Worrell has lived in Boston all his life, graduating from Northeastern University in 2006. In 2018, he started his own Dorchester-based real estate business. As a real estate broker, Worrell expanded his knowledge of city policies and government. During this time, he learned about permit processes, zoning laws, and developed relationships with many officials in the process.

With his background in real estate, Worrell is passionate about affordable housing, both in his district and in the greater Boston area. As a city council member, Worrell advocates to build more multi-family unit housing and combat the displacement of people of color. Another top priority for Worrell is equity in educational opportunities, including “Public investments to implement universal pre-k for all 3 and 4-year-olds,” according to Ballotpedia.

Born in the Bronx, Lara’s family eventually moved to Jamaica Plain when she was a child. From a very young age, Lara was committed to community service and outreach, starting her own organization “Beantown Society” her freshman year of high school. From there, she moved on to work with the StreetSafe Boston Initiative, and then directed Radical Philanthropy at Resist, an organization working towards racial justice.

Lara’s service background was driven by a multitude of experiences. According to a short autobiography on her campaign website, Lana’s encounters with gang violence in her youth heavily influenced her worldview, opening her eyes to other issues in her community in the process. As a member of the city council, issues regarding sustainability are her main focus, according to Boston.com.

Anderson immigrated to Roxbury from Cape Verde at the age of 10. According to her ‘About Tania’ page, she felt “called to service,” working as a Peer Counselor for sexual assault survivors. After high school, she worked her way through college, surviving on several jobs, along with supporting a child by herself.

According to the City of Boston, Anderson was a parent advocate with the Boston Public Schools, manager of a homeless shelter, and a child social worker before joining City Council.

Anderson also founded Noah’s Advocate, a mental health resource specializing in trauma, and was the Executive Director of Bowdoin Geneva Main Streets. Her experiences supporting at-risk youth makes these policies a focus for her City Council career. COVID-19 recovery is also a priority for her, alongside creating and increasing access to affordable housing.

Boston is a constantly evolving city. Climate change, the housing crisis, and the COVID-19 pandemic are sure to dictate future policy. Despite its commitment towards progressive change, a long history of discrimination against people of color is most certainly not in Boston’s rearview mirror—yet. The three new councilpersons, each bringing their own unique perspective, have come to shape Boston’s future, with racial and economic justice, pandemic recovery, and environmental sustainability at its forefront.