Charles Yancey and Stephen Murphy Bid the Hub Adieu

The duo, who are the Boston City Council's longest-serving members, lost reelection efforts this year.

Charles and Marzetta Yancey speaking at his election night party. Photo by Garrett Quinn

Charles and Marzetta Yancey speaking at his election night party. Photo by Garrett Quinn

In November, voters in Boston chose to bring about a major changing of the guard in city politics when they ousted longtime Councilors Charles Yancey and Stephen Murphy.

On Wednesday, the two councilors, who have a combined total of 50 years experience on Boston’s legislative body, delivered stirring and at times defiant farewell speeches.

Yancey, the dean of the council, reflected primarily on his family, his accomplishments, and what he deemed to be his unfinished work on the council.

“I have benefited from the support and input of everyone in these chambers. No matter what your race, gender, interest, background,” said Yancey.

During his remarks, Yancey said he still wants to see Boston police officers employ the use of body cameras and the construction of a high school in Mattapan, a project he has pursued with quixotic vigor in recent years.

“When I endeavor to make a decision, I have to answer the question: How it is going to affect the people of Boston? How is it going to affect the future generations? How is it going to level the playing field? When Boston was founded, people who weren’t wealthy white men had no say. Even in our great city of Boston, the fight for justice goes on,” said Yancey.

City Councilor Tito Jackson was particularly moved by the departure of Yancey. During his remarks, Jackson was emotional and said Yancey inspired him to pursue a life of public service.

“I am because you are and I thank you for all that you’ve done for me. You always did what was right, not what was easy. You were the first elected official that I ever met in my life. You inspired me to fight,” said Jackson.

Murphy was at times emotional and defiant, blasting the Boston media in his speech while quoting from numerous philosophers and historic figures. At one point, Murphy quoted the “Man in the arena” passage from the “Citizenship in a Republic” speech by President Theodore Roosevelt, breaking down at one point. Murphy was frequently a target of the media for his attempts at higher office, among other things.

“I’ve never scored political points at the expense of this institution or at the expense of my colleagues. I’ve tried to stay away from that. I’ve cherished my staff and the central staff of the city council,” said Murphy.

Murphy and Yancey were long time players on the council, but they’re also holdovers from a different era who failed to keep up with a changing Boston. Boston is a far cry from what it was in the ’80s when Yancey was elected, or even the ’90s when Murphy was first elected. In total, the city is in a much better place today than it was when either of them first took office.

Both are former presidents of the council. Murphy lost his at-large council seat to Annissa Essaibi George, a Dorchester teacher running for an at-large seat for the second time. Yancey lost to Mattapan attorney Andrea Campbell.

The two new councilors will officially join the council on January 4, 2016.