By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – After Tom Menino’s unprecedented 20-year run as mayor of Boston ended with his retirement from office in 2013, his successor faced the huge challenge of emerging from his long shadow.

For Marty Walsh, that struggle took many forms:

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* Keeping what he called “a Menino schedule,” long days and nights showing up in every corner of the city;

* Sustaining and enhancing a major Menino accomplishment, the Triple-A bond rating that signals strong financial health;

* And proving that a former union leader who squeaked into office with strong labor backing could be mayor of all Bostonians, with or without union cards.

On those fronts, the Walsh years were a success.

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A citywide poll last fall found Walsh was viewed favorably by seven-in-ten voters, with some of his strongest support coming from black Bostonians.

Walsh never shied away from racial issues, and while black-owned businesses still struggle to win a fair share of city contracts, Walsh won praise for reaching out and doing what he often did best – listening.

Perhaps his highest-profile blunder was the ill-fated bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics, a move he hoped would boost the city’s image globally. But the public said no, and a year later, Walsh conceded and dropped the project.

There were other missteps. The new police commissioner named earlier this year wasn’t properly vetted. The Boston Public Schools are on their fourth superintendent of the Walsh years, two of them interim, and too many of the city’s schoolkids continue to lag behind.

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But Walsh’s calm, empathic leadership during the pandemic has drawn high marks from city residents, who must now say goodbye to the humble kid from Savin Hill who proved a worthy successor to the legend who preceded him.

Jon Keller