BOSTON—Boston’s Mayor, Thomas Menino, says he will not seek re-election after a historic 20 years in office.
Menino will make a formal announcement March 28, at Boston’s Faneuil Hall. “This was the toughest decision I have made in my whole life,” Menino told WBZ-FM on Thursday.
Menino was hospitalized for eight weeks in the fall, but he told the Boston Herald that health issues played only a small part in his decision. He is 70 years old this year.
Menino’s decision is expected to trigger a political scramble to replace him as a new generation of local leaders eye the mayor’s office.
City Councilor John Connolly announced his mayoral intentions last month, regardless of Menino’s decision.
State representative Marty Walsh, a strong voice for organized labor, is also considered a likely candidate.
Menino became acting mayor when his predecessor, Raymond Flynn, left office in 1993 after being named ambassador to the Vatican. Menino, then president of the city council, was automatically elevated to the mayor’s job.
He was elected mayor in his own right in November 1993. A very popular mayor, he won re-election by wide margins in 1997, 2001, 2005 and 2009.
Menino built his reputation by focusing on the unglamorous nuts and bolts of running a major metropolitan city—by fixing the potholes and cleaning the streets.
Judith Kurland, former chief of staff for Menino’s administration spoke passionately about the good work Menino has done for the city.
“One of the reasons he is a great mayor is that he wants for every family in Boston what he wants for his own family: Good, safe, clean housing, in good, safe, clean neighborhoods. A city full of parks and green spaces. A city that is always growing and innovating. That is what he has worked for,” Kurland said.
Critics of Menino have called for a change in the status quo and past mayoral contenders have accused him of running a “political machine,” according to the Associated Press.
According to Kurland, Menino’s administration has been so successful because he made public service exciting and accessible to the younger generation. “His administration is filled with people who he brought in as college and high school students,” she said.
After 20 years, a new mayor may mean big changes for Boston. Kurland hopes that whomever is elected will resist the urge to make sweeping changes and instead learn from the successes of Menino’s administration.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.