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Mayor Menino casts ballot in race for his successor

Mayor Thomas M. Menino cast his vote for the next mayor of Boston at the Franklin D. Roosevelt School in Hyde Park today, saying that he had bittersweet feelings about not seeing his name on the ballot, but that he looked forward to more free time after he leaves public office.

“I’ll have plenty of time. I won’t have to go to this banquet and that banquet and this banquet,” Menino said. “It’s a change to be able to choose what I do.”

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Menino declined to say who he was voting for — and batted down suggestions that he might add his name as a write-in candidate — but said he felt the city would be left in good hands. He said he plans to watch the election returns from the comfort of his City Hall office, in the company of friends, as he does every election.

“I won’t be going to any of the rallies, that’s for sure,” Menino said.

Standing outside of the Millstone Road school, Menino took the opportunity to reflect on what he felt were some of his achievements during his time in office — helping to combat racial strife in Boston and improving the quality of the public school system, though he said there’s still work left to do on the education front.

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“There are some things that are unfinished,” Menino said. “We made a lot of gains, but we’re not perfect.”

Menino said his team has been working on the transition since he announced in March that he would not seek reelection. Once the next mayor is inaugurated, Menino said, he hopes to become involved in work that relates to education – and he also plans to catch up on sleep and spend money on his granddaughter, he joked.

“I’ll miss it a lot, but it’s time to go to pasture,” Menino said, as his spokeswoman Dot Joyce scoffed.

Inside the school, Menino greeted other voters who praised him and thanked him for his service as he walked with a cane slowly to the voting booth, ballot in hand.

After casting his votes, Menino took his completed ballot to the table of volunteers ready to cross-reference his address with their records — “102 Chesterfield Street,” he reminded them, as if they didn’t know — then walked over to the vote counting machine.

“You’re all set, sir,” said a Boston police officer volunteering at the polls, as the machine sucked up Menino’s ballot.

Back outside, campaign workers clapped for Menino, as did some of his fellow voters.

Lifelong Hyde Park resident Clara Ruggiero, 72, reached out to give the outgoing mayor a tight hug.

“Tommy, I’m going to miss you,” she told him.

Menino looked perplexed as he squeezed back, reminding her: “I’m right around the corner!”

Martine Powers can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @martinepowers.
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