Text of Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s speech, March 28 at Faneuil Hall. As prepared for delivery:
I never dreamed I would end up here: Mayor of Boston during its best days.
Jobs, graduation rates, construction, and credit ratings are all at record highs. Population, school enrollment, crime rates, and housing all have hit their best mark in years. Boston’s neighborhoods are thriving as they never have. Most important to me, we are a more open and accepting city. It was a new day when you picked a Mayor with Italian grandparents. It’s a much newer day now.
Over the past few months, I have been weighing my own place in Boston’s bright future. During that time, I have been blessed to regain so much of my health. My physical therapy is going great. I feel better today than I have in a long, long while.
I am back to a Mayor schedule, but not a Menino schedule.
And I miss that. I miss hitting every event, ribbon cutting, new homeowner dinner, school play, and chance meeting. Spending so much time in the neighborhoods gives me energy. Being with our residents builds our trust. It may not be the only way to lead Boston, but it’s the only way for me.
So I am here with the people I love, to tell the city I love, that I will leave the job that I love. I can run, I can win, and I can lead, but not “in-the-neighborhoods-all-the-time” as I like.
30 years ago, when I first ran for office, my father Carl worried I would end up un-employed. Instead, my neighbors put their trust in me. I am so humbled and grateful. I will find a way to thank all of you and to celebrate together. But first, we still have much work to do. I have no intention of letting up just yet.
I will be very proud if I have changed our city in some ways that last. I know from community leaders and business executives and non-profit champions and teachers of all types that there are more ways to impact our city than just this one. So I do plan to stay very engaged in Boston’s future. I am not retiring, but just turning the page on this chapter to the next.
I have no plans to pick the person to fill this seat. I just ask that you choose someone who loves this City as much as I have.
I am so grateful to Angela and our family who have been by my side for every tough decision along the way, including this most difficult one.
One of the great blessings of this job was meeting half the people who live in this city. I get asked all the time how I met so much of Boston. I just did what I loved, and then it wasn’t too hard:
All you do is start in Roslindale and rebuild its Main Street with neighbors. You walk with the proud residents of Bowdoin Geneva every Christmas Eve as they survey their progress and you keep walking until the job is done.
You promise the people of Grove Hall a supermarket and shopping mall and you deliver. You say in West Roxbury that a landfill will become a park and then you return for soccer games. You shovel dirt in Dudley Square to move what seemed like mountains. To build Boston’s waterfront with a new generation, you collaborate because that’s what truly meeting people is.
You promise a computer for every classroom and then watch kids teach their grandmothers how to email. You partner with parents to keep politics out of the school committee and then you work with them to deliver quality schools closer to their homes. You read to children at dazzling new libraries in Mattapan and Brighton.
You open your arms to all New Bostonians and then stand with them as they become citizens. And then you cut a ribbon on the small business they started. And then, when their children graduate at the top of their class, you have them for lunch and marvel at how fast they rise up in a city that welcomes them.
You stand with new homeowners in public housing and tell them they deserve a yard and a front door. You reach out to the homeless on cold winter nights and say they count also. You thank nurses and doctors at a public hospital and public health centers because city people deserve great health care, too.
You rally with gay friends and neighbors.
You work with business executives to provide summer jobs and then talk with teens about what they learned. You visit the younger kids at Harbor View.
You come to this building year after year, for nights on end, to give away school awards, and with them, encouragement. And you are amazed at how the kids get smarter and the scholarships pour in and the countries of their parents span the globe.
If you want to meet half the people in this city, all you do is go to their homes and their jobs and where they raise their families and where they strive to improve their neighborhoods and say this: Boston is the greatest city on earth. It is a buzzing, amazing, history-making place. It gets better every day because of you, and as long as you work together that will never change.