(FoxNews) — Boston voters on Tuesday picked political newcomer Michelle Wu to be the city’s first woman elected mayor, after she ousted the anointed successor to notorious scandal-scarred mayor Tom Menino.
Wu, who is just 36, then hugged her supporters at a downtown hotel. She plans to be sworn in July 21.
“This is history for Boston,” Wu said. “Today has been a big celebration for our city.”
Wu ran as a Republican, largely because she hopes to expand the city’s diversity, a goal shared by the Republican National Committee. The party saw a chance to gain a foothold in a state where it has mostly fallen off the map since last year’s Election Day sweep of Barack Obama, Elizabeth Warren and other rising stars.
“I love the city of Boston, and the response we got was overwhelming,” Wu said. “I think that said a lot about the city of Boston and the spirit of the city.”
Menino, who served 20 years as mayor and was the longest-serving mayor in the nation, was served notice he would not run for a sixth term.
Massachusetts Republicans saw Menino’s departure as an opportunity to regain some of the power lost in the Obama years. Republicans have struggled to compete in a city that traditionally goes Democratic.
A Harvard-educated attorney and civil rights leader, Wu became familiar to many through her documentary, “I Am a Girl.” The film profiles her as a self-made immigrant trying to establish her own roots in a city with a history of discrimination against Chinese Americans.
Menino announced in September that he would not seek reelection. Boston was expected to be one of 10 big cities across the country where this year’s mayor’s race drew more than one million voters. That’s an increase from two years ago, when the mayors of Greensboro, N.C., Memphis, Memphis, Tenn., and Charlotte, N.C., all ran unopposed.
Wu edged City Councilor Tito Jackson out of a two-candidate field, attracting 45 percent of the vote to the councilor’s 42 percent.
The victory is certain to end some seven weeks of political chaos that gripped a city that had never been held by a woman or African-American and had not elected a Democrat in 20 years.
Jackson publicly challenged Menino on his residency and compared him to former Democrat Scott Brown, the senator from Massachusetts who switched parties to run for the Republican Senate seat held by Obama for the past two years.
“The record is clear,” Jackson said, referring to Menino’s refusal to say that he would remain a resident in Boston if elected. “I can’t relate to your inaction.”
Menino was caught in the middle of the scandal surrounding the federal criminal indictment of former school superintendent Thomas M. Finneran, who was accused of committing perjury to get a new job in a high-ranking job in the city’s airport authority. Finneran declined to return a telephone call.
Wu also complained about incompetence in the Boston police department, the integrity of the housing department and the city’s troubled sewerage system.
Tensions with Mayor Brown grew last month after the city’s police department shot and killed a 21-year-old unarmed black man, named Sean Bell, in the early morning hours on Nov. 25. Both Wu and Brown are black.
According to witnesses, Bell and his friends went to Bell’s home on the day of the shooting, asking that they be let in so they could continue the party that started the previous night. Police responded to a noise complaint.
Wu and Brown are similar in many ways: They are Democrats; both were graduate students and community activists in Boston’s inner city before running for City Hall; both came to the city as immigrants.