State Representative Martin J. Walsh stole most of the headlines Nov. 5, when he was elected Boston’s first new mayor in 20 years. But the city marked another electoral milestone when retiring Mayor Thomas M. Menino was displaced from a second perch he had occupied for a generation.
Since 1983, Menino, a councilor before he became mayor, had held the record for most votes ever received by a district city councilor, garnering the support of 17,561 people. Earlier this month, City Councilor Matt O’Malley set a new mark, surging to 18,204 votes. O’Malley defeated challenger Luis F. Valerio with 85 percent of the vote in his district, which stretches from Jamaica Plain to West Roxbury and includes chunks of Mission Hill and Roslindale. In setting a new record, the two-term incumbent won more than twice the votes of several of his City Council colleagues.
The 34-year-old Roslindale native said he follows Menino’s advice and tries always to be accessible. O’Malley held neighborhood office hours at doughnut shops and ice cream emporiums, published his cellphone number in community newspapers, and walked his district in the aftermath of this year’s blizzard.
Does O’Malley’s strong showing at the ballot box make him a threat to the new mayor in four years? “No,” O’Malley said with a chuckle. “It means I’m honored to continue to represent the people and the neighborhoods I know and love.”