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Keller @ Large: Challenge Ahead For Boston Mayoral Candidates

By Jon Keller, WBZ-TV
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WBZ-TV's Jon Keller Jon Keller
Jon Keller is WBZ-TV News' Political Analyst, and his "Keller A...
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BOSTON (CBS) – The twelve candidates who hope to succeed Tom Menino as Boston’s mayor share a common challenge: How to show they represent change for the better without alienating admirers of the popular incumbent.

While polls have shown voters agree it’s time for someone new to run the city, it’s far less clear that they want dramatic change from the way Menino did it.

It’s a problem that haunts the candidates who want to succeed the wildly-popular mayor as he’s showered with accolades on his way out the door. But with Menino sidekick and City Councilor Rob Consalvo perceived by many as the mayor’s designated heir, the rest must find ways to distinguish themselves from Menino, without seeming disrespectful of his legacy.

Some candidates look to embrace change.

“I would make it that Boston is a city that plans, a city that actually starts with a comprehensive plan,” said candidate John Barros. “We don’t have a comprehensive plan on transportation; we need a comprehensive plan on transportation that looks at all the different transit modes; walking, bicycling, cars, public transit.”

“It shouldn’t take six to nine months to open a business in our city; you should be able to do it in 30 days,” said candidate Mike Ross. “And if not we should give you your money back. You shouldn’t have to call a politician to get a business open or pay an expeditor two thousand dollars.”

Will it sell? Menino himself is skeptical.

“The voter doesn’t like change,” Menino said. “They’ll say they want change, but once you start talking about change, they’ll say no no, don’t do this one.”

Barros is aware of the difficulty of the situation.

“I think change is difficult,” Barros says, “and people typically don’t want change, I think that’s true. We need to make sure we have an inclusive government that brings people along in change and makes sure that their voices are being heard.”

Ross also stressed individualism.

“People really love Tom Menino, but that doesn’t mean I won’t have a very different approach when it comes to planning, when it comes to early education, when it comes to extending the day in our schools.”

As a measure of how politically tricky the transition from the Menino era is proving to be, even Consalvo, known to some as “mini-me” for his close ties to the Mayor, works hard not to oversell that connection. When asked recently who his political role model was, he named the late Senator Ted Kennedy.

Jon Keller is working to make sure you know more about the 12 people who want to become Boston’s next mayor. Watch his special series “Meet the Mayoral Candidates” every Sunday morning at 8:30a.m. on WBZ-TV.

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