Last September, Ayanna Pressley — the first woman of color ever elected to Boston's City Council — won election as the first black woman to represent Massachusetts in the U.S. Congress.

Addressing supporters on election night, Pressley spoke to the historic context of her victory.

“When it comes to women of color candidates, folks don't just talk about a glass ceiling, what they describe is a concrete one. But you know what breaks through concrete?” Pressley asked.

“Seismic shifts.”

Before Pressley's upset win, the Boston City Council was rarely seen as a launchpad to higher office. Historically, it’s been seen as weak, subservient to the mayor and, until recently, noticeably lacking in diversity.

But that's changing. And this year, the council might be due for a seismic shift of its own.

By last week, there were 65 candidates for Boston City Council — including 25 running for the council's four at-large seats; another 25 running for three district seats being vacated; and eight candidates challenging incumbent district councilors.

And many observers see the upcoming municipal election as a potential tipping point for a new level of diversity — and not just in terms of race — on the council.

“It is an immense opportunity to make sure that the council better reflects the diversity of our city both in a racial demographic but also in thoughts and opinions,” notes Segun Itowu, executive director of the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts, which advocates for black businesses.

As an example of the kind of change that might be coming, Itowu points to his own district, the city’s 5th Council district, which encompasses Hyde Park, Roslindale and parts of Mattapan.

The district was a stronghold for the late Mayor Thomas Menino, and has always been represented by white men, even as it's become a majority-minority district, home to white, black, Latino and immigrant residents from Haiti, the Caribbean and elsewhere.

Now, 10 candidates are vying for the open seat being vacated by Councilor Timothy McCarthy, more than half of them people of color.

Haitian-born Jean-Claude Sanon, of Mattapan, who ran against McCarthy in 2013, was one of the first challengers to officially qualify to be on the ballot this fall.

"People are afraid of other groups and other ethnicities coming to the table and being part of the game plan,” Sanon said. “But if we don't do that ... I think we're doing ourselves a disservice, because the constituents can be united."

Among the candidates competing for the seat is Maria Esdale Farrell of Hyde Park, an education advisor to McCarthy.

Farrell, who is white, notes that she is a first-generation American, whose mother immigrated to Boston from Poland.

“I have compassion and understanding for others that share that experience,” Farrell told WGBH News.

Leading the pack in fund-raising so far, though not yet officially qualified for the ballot, is Ricardo Arroyo, the son of former Councilor Felix Arroyo, the council’s first Latino member.

With three district seats up for grabs and a raucous at-large competition on its way, next year's council could look significantly different.

“Boston has the chance to elect a majority female and a majority people of color city council — which, if you were to compare to 10 years ago, is a massive sea change,” said Jonathan Cohn, Democratic ward leader for the city’s 4th ward, in Back Bay, and a progressive activist.

Cohn said the changing make-up of the council is one reason progressive groups have been focusing many of their efforts on the council: “It has often been the councilors who are women or people of color who are more vocal and feel less of a need to toe the line of the mayor."

In recent years, the council has been more willing to push its own agenda — for taking the lead, for example, on AirBNB regulations, and passing a plastic bag ban over Mayor Marty Walsh's head.

Members are considering more radical measures, like restructuring the school board and taxing luxury real estate sales.

Rob DeLeo, a professor of public policy at Bentley University in Waltham, said a bigger trend might be at work.

“You know, in the face of Congressional gridlock, it’s no surprise that we’re finding that local governments are beginning to emerge as important policy players,” said DeLeo, observing that local governments — especially big cities — are becoming laboratories for policy ideas that have little support at the federal level and in the White House.

Council President Andrea Campbell, up for re-election herself, agrees.

“I think these folks running are realizing that this institution should be taken seriously,” said Campbell.

The first black woman elected as council president, Campbell was preceded by Michelle Wu, the first woman of color ever elected to lead the city’s legislative branch.

“The only way we have institutions that truly represent the demographics of the city of Boston is if they reflect the demographics they serve,” said Campbell.

“So the city council has come a long way.”

Where it goes next remains to be seen.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly spelled Jonathan Cohn's name.