Wu endorses Arroyo opponent Enrique Pepén for City Council

Politics

“He’ll be a fantastic partner on the Council with the shared progressive values, determination, and heart for service to make Boston a city for everyone.”

Enrique Pepén is a candidate for the District 5 seat on Boston’s City Council. Jonathan Wiggs/Boston Globe Staff

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu is throwing her weight behind former neighborhood services head Enrique Pepén in his race against incumbent Ricardo Arroyo for the City Council’s District 5 seat.

“Enrique is exactly the kind of leader we need in government,” Wu said in a statement endorsing Pepén Monday morning. “He’s thoughtful and kind, creative and tenacious — and above all dedicated to serving the community.”

Pepén, a Roslindale resident who recently stepped down from his role as the city’s executive director of neighborhood services, is one of three challengers attempting to unseat Arroyo.

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Wu’s endorsement, first reported by Politico’s Massachusetts Playbook, is the latest development in one of the city’s most closely watched races.  

“As a resident of District 5, I’m excited to vote for someone who not only knows City Hall inside out, but also has lived the challenges of our community through growing up in Boston and now raising his two young kids here,” Wu said. “He’ll be a fantastic partner on the Council with the shared progressive values, determination, and heart for service to make Boston a city for everyone.” 

Her endorsement comes as a blow for Arroyo, who once counted Wu as an ally. The mayor initially backed Arroyo in last year’s Suffolk County district attorney race, only to rescind her endorsement after years-old sexual assault allegations against him surfaced. Arroyo has denied the claims and was never criminally charged.

Wu later said she still voted for Arroyo in the primary against then-interim DA Kevin Hayden, who went on to win the seat. 

The city councilor has continued to face controversy in the run-up to this year’s municipal elections.

In May, two federal watchdog reports alleged that former U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins acted as Arroyo’s “de facto campaign advisor” during the DA race and leaked sensitive information about Hayden, his opponent. Arroyo faced heavy criticism and calls to resign over his alleged involvement in Rollins’s ethics violations.

One month later, Arroyo admitted he violated conflict of interest laws by continuing to represent his brother in a sexual harassment lawsuit after joining the City Council. He paid a $3,000 fine as part of a disposition agreement. 

Vincent Alban for The Boston Globe, Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff
Clockwise from top left: City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo and challengers Enrique Pepén, Jean-Claude Sanon, and Jose Ruiz. – Vincent Alban for The Boston Globe and Jonathan Wiggs/Boston Globe Staff

Today, he faces stiff competition from Pepén, Jose Ruiz, and Jean-Claude Sanon for the District 5 seat, which covers Hyde Park, Roslindale, and parts of Mattapan. 

The four candidates will face off in a preliminary election on Sept. 12. From there, the top two vote-getters will advance to the Nov. 7 municipal election. 

In a statement posted to X — formerly Twitter — on Monday, Pepén said he was “profoundly humbled and honored to receive the support of my mentor and friend Mayor Michelle Wu.”

He added: “I share Mayor Wu’s dedication to serve our community and meet people where they are.”

The Globe backs Ben Weber over Lara for District 6 seat

In other City Council election news, The Boston Globe endorsed workers’ rights lawyer Ben Weber over incumbent Kendra Lara for the District 6 seat, which includes Jamaica Plain and West Roxbury.

Lara, like Arroyo, has been plagued by scandal in recent months. 

She’s facing several charges in a June car crash that injured her 7-year-old son and damaged a home in Jamaica Plain, with authorities alleging that she was speeding and driving an unregistered and uninsured car without a valid license. Lara has pleaded not guilty, and her lawyer is seeking to dismiss the case. 

Earlier this month, election officials sided in her favor after objectors claimed that Lara hadn’t lived in her district long enough to represent it on the City Council. 

From the left, District 6 candidates Ben Weber, William King, and Kendra Lara. – Pat Greenhouse and John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe

Still, the embattled councilor has faced calls for her resignation and pushback on her bid for reelection.

“A single incident shouldn’t define anyone, and Lara has acknowledged she made a mistake and asked for forgiveness from voters,” the Globe’s editorial board wrote. “The problem is that this was really a series of poor decisions, not just one bad day.”

In its endorsement for the Sept. 12 primary, the Globe noted that both candidates seeking to replace Lara — Weber and IT director William King — “are promising and could step into the role of district councilor, which involves both constituent service and policymaking.”

But Weber, they added, “offers a more complete package for voters.” 

“Weber is a much lower-key personality than Lara,” the endorsement reads. “But that’s not necessarily a bad thing — and at this particular moment, when Bostonians are tiring of the City Council’s drama over the last two years, it might be a quality that’s just what the district and the city need.”


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