Law school alumnus elected to Boston City Council

Josh Zakim, a 2009 graduate of the Northeastern School of Law, was elected to the Boston City Council last week. Courtesy photo

Josh Zakim, an alumnus of Northeastern’s School of Law and the son of a well-known reli­gious and civil rights leader, has been elected to rep­re­sent Dis­trict 8 in the Boston City Council.

Zakim, who grad­u­ated from the law school in 2009, defeated Michael Nichols in the Nov. 5 city elec­tion. Zakim received about 52 per­cent of the vote to Nichols’ 47 per­cent. Dis­trict 8 com­prises Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Fenway-Kenmore, Mis­sion Hill, and the West End.

“This is a new time in the city,” Zakim said in a phone inter­view last Thursday. “With a new mayor for the first time in 20 years, this is a great oppor­tu­nity to help shape the future of Boston.”

Zakim will offi­cially start his new job in Jan­uary. His list of to-dos includes making rent in his dis­trict more afford­able and finding a bal­ance between devel­op­ment and neigh­bor­hood needs.

“Rising rent costs is an issue across the city, but in areas like Mis­sion Hill and Fenway it’s forcing people and fam­i­lies to move away,” he said. “I want to help make Boston a city that pro­vides oppor­tu­ni­ties and is acces­sible to everyone.”

Although this is Zakim’s first foray into pol­i­tics, public ser­vice runs in his family. His father, Leonard Zakim, was a reli­gious and civil rights leader who served as the director of the New Eng­land region of the Anti-Defamation League. The iconic Zakim Bridge is named for Leonard, who died of bone marrow cancer in 1999.

Zakim said he came to North­eastern in part because of the co-op pro­gram, the cor­ner­stone of the university’s expe­ri­en­tial learning model. He was also impressed with the law school’s focus on public interest.

“North­eastern con­tinues to be a leading law school,” Zakim noted. “And whether grad­u­ates go into the pri­vate or public sector, they are gen­er­ally going into their legal career to do good.”

After grad­u­ating law school, Zakim worked for the Greater Boston Legal Ser­vices and rep­re­sented fam­i­lies that were at risk of losing their homes to fore­clo­sure. He also worked in the public finance group at Mintz Levin, a Boston-based law firm.

“Public ser­vice and social eco­nomic jus­tice have always been impor­tant to me,” Zakim explained. “The dis­trict has had such able rep­re­sen­ta­tion by Michael Ross, and I thought it was impor­tant we have someone at City Hall with sim­ilar values.”

Ross, who was elected to the city council in 2000, was one of four city coun­cilors to give up their seats this year in order to run for mayor. This elec­tion marked the first in two decades that Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s name was not on the ballot.

Written by Joe O'Connell

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This article was originally posted on Northeastern News. Read it here.