BOSTON (CBS/AP) – Mayor Tom Menino says now is the time to give the city new leadership.
Boston’s longest-serving mayor, Menino, won’t seek re-election for a sixth term amid ongoing health problems.
Menino made the official announcement Thursday afternoon.
An at times emotional Boston Mayor Thomas Menino told well-wishers gathered at the city’s historic Faneuil Hall on Thursday that he won’t seek re-election to an unprecedented sixth term after nearly two decades in office.
Menino reflected on his time as mayor of “the greatest city in the world” and asked voters to “choose someone who loves this city as much as I do.”
“I am here with the people I love, to tell the city I love, that I will leave the job that I love,” Menino said, with his wife Angela and family by his side. “I can run, I can win and I can lead, but not in the neighborhoods all the time as I like.”
Menino, who used a cane to walk to the podium, has had persistent health problems including a six-week hospital stay last year to treat a respiratory infection and a compression fracture in his spine. Menino also was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
But the city’s longest serving mayor told the crowd that he is on the mend. Still, he said, it’s not enough to keep the pace that has become his trademark.
“I’m back to a mayor’s schedule, but not a Menino schedule,” he said. “Spending so much time in the neighborhoods gives me energy…. It may not be the only way to lead Boston, but it’s the only way for me.”
Menino spoke for about 12 minutes and received a three-minute standing ovation.
During his comments, Menino alluded to a poll that once indicated that more than half of the city’s residents had said they’d personally met him.
He also acknowledged that his decision not to run again is expected to trigger a political stampede to fill the coveted office.
“I have no plans to pick the person to fill this seat,” he said. “I just ask that you choose someone who loves this city as much as I do.”
Although Menino wasn’t always the smoothest of political figures, he earned a reputation as one of the hardest working, from filling potholes to shaping the city’s skyline.
A recent Boston Globe poll showed the 70-year-old Menino was viewed favorably by a wide margin of city residents, although less than half said they wanted him to run again. Most political watchers assumed Menino could have cruised to another victory.
Menino said that despite his decision, he’s not done yet.
“I have nine months left. Just think what I can do in nine months,” he said. “We can have some real fun.”
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens reports
Menino said the decision not to run was the hardest of his life.
“The city has been really good to me and it’s a tough decision – the toughest decision I’ve ever made in my whole carer, my whole life,” Menino said.
Menino said while a lot has been made of his health, he wanted to leave on his own terms.
“I can do a mayor’s schedule but I can’t do a Menino schedule,” Menino said. “A Menino schedule is different from most mayors. I like to work 18 hours a day and be out there all the time and I’m not able to do that today.”
Menino said he felt after 20 years, it was time to give the city an opportunity for different leadership.
“I think we’ve changed in many ways. We’re a much more tolerant city, it’s a young city,” Menino said. “I wanted to give the people of Boston a chance for other leadership. For me, it’s time to go on and do other things and look for other opportunities.”
Menino said spending time with his grandchildren is on the list of things he’s looking forward to.
“My grandchildren are very special to me and I need them as much as they need me,” he said.
With 9 months left on his term, Menino said he still has projects he wants to accomplish and he won’t be taking his foot off the pedal.
Many state and national leaders are weighing in on Menino’s decision, including President Obama.
RELATED: President Obama Calls Menino
“Boston is the vibrant, welcoming, and world-class city it is today because of Tom Menino,” the President said in a statement. “No two people wear their hearts on their sleeve for the City of Boston and its people as openly as Tom and Angela Menino. And as they depart City Hall next year, Boston will be a better place to live, work and raise a family because of the Meninos’ proud service to the city they love.”
After appearing on NightSide with Dan Rea at WBZ, Menino got a phone call from President Obama. Menino thanked the president for his work on gun control, but says more needs to be done.
Governor Patrick also thanked the Mayor for his “tireless service to the people of Boston.”
“It’s hard to imagine Boston without Tom Menino as mayor,” Patrick said in a statement. “No one loves this City and her people more, or is more excited about her future… (I) look forward to leaning on his wisdom for many more years to come.”
Attorney General Martha Coakley also praised Menino’s long tenure in office.
“Mayor Menino has led Boston’s resurgence and will leave a lasting legacy as one of the greatest mayors in the city’s rich history,” Coakley said. “For twenty years, Mayor Menino has been a champion for the people he has met in the neighborhoods every day – especially those who otherwise would have no voice.”
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