BOSTON (CBS) – The day Marty Walsh is sworn in as Boston’s new mayor, he’ll go to work and Mayor Tom Menino will go the airport for a well-earned vacation.
He leaves the city with a $20-million surplus and a lot of questions about what life will be like without him at City Hall.
“My toughest decision, as mayor, in my whole career, was not to run,” Menino told WBZ-TV’s Lisa Hughes. “I love this job. It’s the best job in America.”
That is why not even the mayor’s wife, Angela, was sure he’d step down.
“There were many things he hadn’t finished,” said Angela. “I wasn’t really sure. That had to be his decision.”
Mayor Menino announced he would not seek another term in March. Tributes came pouring in. The rest of the year would be Menino’s victory lap, with the realization that their lives are about to slow way down.
“I’ve been preparing for it since March,” said Menino. “I’m at peace with myself. I know life is gonna change. It won’t be a real 24-7 schedule like I had in the past. I’ll have time to do some things I want to do.”
“This is an all-consuming job,” said Angela. “It’ll be a lot of freedom, in a sense, to decide what we want to do.”
Both agree Boston’s darkest day brought out the best in its people and its leaders.
“It’s a great city,” says Menino. “It’s a resilient city. It’s a strong city. Look how well we came out of the marathon bombing. Other cities would have fallen apart. But because of a lot of people, we did it real well.”
His advice to Mayor-Elect Walsh is to be honest and to listen to people every day.
“Anybody who sits in the job, as mayor and thinks they have all the answers is going to be a failure,” Menino says.
The mayor’s next job is at Boston University launching the new Institute of Cities.
He will not be running for any other office.
“No, I’m all done,” he says. “That chapter in my life is closed.”
As Mayor Menino prepares to leave office, it’s not just a new job he’ll be getting used to. It’s a new schedule, a new car he’ll drive himself, and a freedom he and his wife haven’t known in 20 years.
Menino has hinted that Boston University will not be his only professional interest.
“I’m not gonna leave the schools alone,” Menino says. “I love those kids. They’re our kids. I’ll make that happen. I’ll be busy.”
“It’s not just BU, the school stuff I really care about a lot,” he says.
He’s joined the board of Big Sisters of Greater Boston and will keep working with Camp Harborview.
He says he won’t be the guy publicly judging the new mayor.
“I’m not gonna be a critic,” he says. “I’m not gonna be out there answering every media question, ‘how would you have done this?’ No. He’s the mayor. I’m not the mayor.”
And the Meninos say they’re looking forward to the change.
“There are things I want to do,” Angela says. “Might take some classes. Spend a little bit more time with my grandchildren and not have to be up at five o’clock in the morning. I’m not gonna miss that at all either.”
“I’ll be up,” the mayor added.
Twenty years from now, he expects Boston will be an even more inclusive city. But he worries about the gap between the wealthiest Bostonians and the poor.
“The issue I worry about most of all as I go forward is inequities,” says Menino. “That’s the issue for the next decade and we’d better start paying attention to it now.”
Angela says she is not worried about her husband being bored. “There are lots of things that he’s wanted to do that he couldn’t do as mayor,” she says.
Like have more family time. The Meninos have six grandchildren.
“Maybe he’ll be able to get to five ballgames in a season versus the one that he managed to make, or a swim meet,” said Angela.
“But no dance recitals,” the mayor said smiling. “Been there, done that.”
How are you going to feel when you walk out the door of the office?
“Melancholy. It’s gonna be tough, I’ll admit that. It’s a decision I made. Nobody forced me to make the decision. It’s a decision I’ve been living with since March. Be a lot different. I’m going to the real world. There’s a world out there I haven’t seen in 20 years. I’m gonna be okay. I’m gonna be okay.”
He says that also applies to his health. The mayor says he saw his doctor two weeks ago. And while he still needs more rehab for his left leg, otherwise, he says, he’s perfect.