Ayanna Pressley Is Widely Viewed for Higher Office

The Boston city councilwoman, the first African-American woman to serve on the board, is considered a rising star.

Posted: 11/16/2012 04:07 PM EST
Ayanna Pressley

Ayanna Pressley is receiving a good deal of attention these days, not just in Boston, where she serves on the city council, but beyond.

Pressley, the council's only African-American member, is widely viewed as a leading potential candidate for either mayor of Boston or for a congressional seat. As a result, Pressley is increasingly regarded as one of the up-and-coming figures on the Massachusetts political landscape.

“For now, I’m running for re-election to the council next year,” Pressley said, in an interview with BET.com. “But there may be other opportunities that emerge. And let’s just say that I’m open to other possibilities.”

Those possibilities are reflected in the potential changes in the state’s political scene. There is the possibility that a congressional seat could open. If President Obama nominates Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry to a cabinet position, Congressman Mike Capuano is widely expected to run for the Senate seat.

Meanwhile, Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino has been beset by health challenges this year. The mayor recently had another setback and will remain hospitalized indefinitely as doctors try to determine what caused a fresh surge of pain in his ailing back. That has led many in Boston to speculate that Menino might not seek re-election next year.

Pressley has a strong background in Massachusetts politics. She has worked as a senior aide to Joseph P. Kennedy II when he served in the House of Representatives. She later worked for 11 years as political director to Sen. Kerry.

She first ran for the city council in 2009 as a candidate in one of four at-large council seats. She won and became the first woman of color ever elected to the 13-member council. When she ran for re-election in 2011, she won with the largest number of votes of any of the council members.

Since coming to the council, she has been an outspoken champion of issues related to women and families. In fact, she created and chairs a new standing committee on women and healthy communities.

“My goal is to make sure that the city of Boston works for everybody,” Pressley said, “There is a misconception that people get when they hear about women’s issues. But anything that affects women affects an entire family. They are extremely important.”

Specifically, she said, she is committed to fighting for equal pay for women as well as working to ensure that women have access to adequate health care.

She said that running for office is always challenging “because it’s always more difficult for a woman to raise money than it is for a man.” She added, however, that her candidacy had always been discounted because “people thought I didn’t fit the model of what a candidate in Boston should be.”

Nonetheless, she added, “conventional wisdom lasts only until it’s no longer conventional wisdom.”


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(Photo: Courtesy of Boston City Council)

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