Walsh to Succeed Menino as Boston’s Mayor
by Jacob Aronoff on Friday, November 22nd, 2013
On January 6th 2014, Martin J. Walsh will take office as Boston’s new mayor, ending Mayor Tom Menino’s 20-year tenure. Credited for transforming Boston into a world-class city, Mayor Menino has one of the highest approval ratings of just about any mayor in the country.
Most notably, he has turned Boston into the sixth most economically powerful city in the world, ahead of renowned economic powerhouses such as Hong Kong, Beijing, and Sydney. By issuing a citywide initiative to support small businesses and the local economy, Menino has made Boston into what he calls “the engine of the state’s economy.”
Of the many economic reforms that Menino created, one of the most memorable of which was Don’t Borrow Trouble campaign in 1999, thus helping to prevent lending scams. He continued to keep tabs on lending and foreclosures in Boston. When he realized the housing disaster was inevitable, Menino initiated the 2006 Foreclosure Prevention Act, which preserved 170 million dollars in home values. Menino’s model for foreclosure prevention has been so successful that dozens of other cities who have suffered from the 2008 collapse have followed his example. Even today, foreclosure intervention teams all across the United States are significantly reducing the amount of foreclosure.
Mayor Menino also focused his energy on affordable housing, an effort which awarded him the “Best Practice” award from the United States National Conference of Mayors. With the funding he received from a federal stimulus package, Menino created a large amount of affordable housing in Roslindale and other locations in the Boston area. According to the Boston Globe, one of his primary goals as mayor was “to ensure that working families can continue to afford to live in our city.”
Not only did Mayor Menino provide housing to Boston residents, but also he constantly worked to ensure a healthier Boston. The driving force behind some of the most successful health systems in the country in the past two decades, Menino banned smoking in many workplaces and merged two hospitals together to ensure healthcare attention for the poorest people in Boston. Additionally, Menino launched a program that tracks and addresses health care issues for minorities and for the poor, working with healthcare providers to improve healthcare delivery. His departure will likely create a big void to fill, certainly not a reassuring prospect for most citizens.
Mayor Menino has also made an impact on the gay rights movement. By refusing to walk in parades that did not support the LGBT community and speaking against organizations that do not accept the LGBT community, Menino has used his public image to promote the issue. Sue O’Connell, a veteran city staffer, even declared to Boston Magazine, “We would not have same-sex marriage in America if not for Tom Menino.”
To continue the legacy of Mayor Menino, new mayor Martin Walsh wants to continue Menino’s path of innovation by initiating urban farming, a city hall museum, and areas for artists and musicians to gather. Walsh is very ambitious and plans to integrate many of Menino’s tactics in an attempt to run Boston as well as Mayor Menino. Boston Globe reports that Walsh said the night before the election, “I’m running for mayor because I want to help people. I want to make sure that every young person gets a good, quality education in our Boston public school system. I want to make sure every family and every senior has the opportunity to stay in their home and earn a living. I want to create more opportunities for families in all the neighborhoods of the city of Boston so they can raise their family and live in safe environments. I also want to make sure that we can make opportunities for every race in the city of Boston. We have a chance to build on the great work of Tom Menino to make Boston a brighter city for all residents of Boston.”
Questions about an efficient transition of power have expectedly arisen, but most firmly believe that Menino has left Walsh with a very strong foundation. Needless to say, the incoming mayor will encounter numerous challenges in the early part of his tenure. However, the stability generated by a mayor who has in some ways become a champion of both Democrats and Republicans will likely ground the new mayor.
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