Voters in Boston’s 5th City Council district elected Ricardo Arroyo Tuesday night, making him the first person of color to win the seat. Arroyo celebrated alongside supporters at a Dominican restaurant in Roslindale.
“We made history,” Arroyo declared with a wide smile after walking out to a crowd of several dozen at around 9 p.m.
The 31-year-old public defender embraced friends and family as a edited version Jay Rock’s “Win” blared through speakers and ricocheted off the establishment’s wooden beams.
“What I see today is a city that is moving closer and closer and closer to a more perfect union,” he said after the music and cheers hushed. “We’re intergenerational in this room. We’re multicultural in this room. We’re bilingual in this room."
The race, widely heralded as emblematic of Boston’s changing demographics, furthers a trend of minority candidates seizing political power in neighborhoods that have become increasingly diverse over the last several decades.
Speaking to reporters after his victory speech, Arroyo said that analysis misses the fact that people of color have lived and worked in Boston all along.
“That dichotomy doesn’t take care of the fact that you have generations of folks who put in the work for me to be possible in old Boston.”
Arroyo and his opponent Maria Esdale-Farrell emerged from a crowded field of eight candidates in the September preliminary election. At that time, Arroyo led in both money raised and votes earned. Esdale-Farrell did not respond to attempts to reach her Tuesday evening, and Arroyo said he had not spoken with her.
The fifth district lies in the southeastern-most portion of Boston. It captures almost all of Hyde Park, Roslindale, and extends into a portion of Mattapan.
The open seat was vacated by Councilor Timothy McCarthy, who announced he would not seek reelection after Arroyo declared his candidacy.