State Rep. Jon Santiago is joining the growing pool of candidates in the race for Boston's next mayor.
Santiago, an ER doctor at Boston Medical Center, has been vocal about the state's handling of the coronavirus pandemic. He has pressured leaders in Massachusetts to move more quickly and tighten restrictions and weighed in on the evidence that shows the more contagious South African coronavirus variant is in Massachusetts.
"We have a virus that has completely upended society as we know it. And I want to be the mayor to bring Boston back stronger than ever before," he told NBC10 Boston.
At 38, the native of Puerto Rico who grew up in subsidized housing in Roxbury is the only member of the legislature currently eyeing the position after Mayor Marty Walsh successfully made the jump from the State House to City Hall in 2014. Walsh, a former state representative from Dorchester, was tapped by then-President-elect Joe Biden to lead the department in January.
Councilors Michelle Wu, Andrea Campbell and Annissa Essaibi George are already running to replace him, while Marty Martinez, the city's health and human services chief, is also said to be considering a bid for mayor.
Other potential candidates to keep an eye on include Janey; City Councilor Michael Flaherty, state Sen. Nick Collins and Boston economic development chief John Barros.
Santiago announced his bid Tuesday through a two-minute video, produced in both English and Spanish. He talked about his experience in the Peace Corps, as a captain in the U.S. Army Reserve, an emergency room physician and as a state representative.
“We are living through an unprecedented crisis, the impact of which will last far beyond today. It’s a turning point for our city, but in it I also see great possibilities,” Santiago said. “I see and hear it in the voices of my neighbors, patients, and constituents. I’ve spent my life in service to others and now I’m running for mayor to lead us through this moment and to a recovery rooted in equity and opportunity. I will bring our city back, stronger than ever.”
Recently reelected to his second term representing the Ninth Suffolk District in the House, Santiago was just appointed vice-chair of the new Committee on COVID-19 and Emergency Preparedness. He is preparing for the committee's first oversight hearing Thursday when lawmakers will question Gov. Charlie Baker and his team on the state's vaccine program.
Santiago‘s campaign account has about $160,000. He told NBC10 Boston he’s confident he’ll have the team and the resources to win.
"Boston has always for me been a place where if you dream big, if you work hard, good things happen," he said.
His video, titled “Our Boston Story,” was accompanied by the launch of his new website. The campaign is expected to announce COVID-safe online citywide organizing events.
Walsh has said the transition to Boston City Council President Kim Janey, who would take over as acting mayor if Walsh is confirmed by the Senate, has already begun.
The Boston City Council voted to forgo an otherwise required special election to replace Walsh if he resigns before March 5. The proposal allows Janey to remain as acting mayor through the remainder of the unexpired term.
The change needs approval from the mayor, state Legislature and Gov. Charlie Baker to take effect. Baker has suggested that he would sign the petition if it reaches his desk.
A mayoral election is already scheduled for the fall.
The State House News Service contributed to this report.