Breaking with the city’s historical precedent, outgoing Mayor Thomas M. Menino will be one of just a handful of Boston mayors in the past century who did not attend their successors’ swearing-in ceremonies.
Menino told reporters on Friday that he will not formally participate in the Jan. 6 inauguration of Mayor-elect Martin J. Walsh.
“No,” Menino said, when asked by a Boston Herald reporter if he would be involved in the swearing in. “It’s Marty Walsh’s day. It’s not Tom Menino’s day.”
Menino spokeswoman Dot Joyce later said that Menino will be leaving for a long-planned vacation on inauguration day but hopes to first meet with Walsh that day to formally hand over the reins.
“The mayor has asked the mayor-elect to join him earlier in the day for a quiet handoff,” Joyce said on Saturday. “The mayor’s feeling is that this should be Mayor-elect Walsh’s day and it should not be about him.”
The plans for a low-key transfer of power would make Menino the second consecutive Boston mayor to be missing when his power is publicly transferred to his successor.
Former Boston Mayor Ray Flynn, who stepped down two years into his second term to accept a position as US Ambassador to the Holy See, was living in Rome when Menino was sworn into office in 1994 and did attend his inauguration.
But Menino and Flynn’s inaugural no-shows are exceptions to what has been a fairly consistent historical precedent. During the past 100 years, almost all outgoing mayors have appeared at the swearing-in of their successors.
Former mayors Kevin H. White, John B. Hynes, James Michael Curley, Frederick W. Mansfield, and Andrew J. Petersall attended the swearing-in ceremonies of the men who replaced them in office, with several playing prominent roles in the events.
The last mayor before Flynn to be absent for the swearing-in of his replacement was John F. Collins, who missed the 1968 inauguration of White after contracting a stomach virus and being ordered by his doctors to stay in bed. In his place, Collins’ wife stood on stage with White.
In a statement provided to the Globe on Saturday, Walsh declined to directly address the news that Menino would not be attending.
“I extended personal invitations to all former mayors and their families. I hope they can join us,” Walsh said in the statement.
Menino did not endorse any candidate in the 12-way race to replace him, but several of his closest political allies and confidants backed Walsh’s opponent, city councilor John R. Connolly.
Walsh advisers have consistently insisted that there is no rift between the outgoing and incoming mayors. Those close to Menino have maintained that the current mayor’s lack of participation in the swearing-in was an attempt to not steal the spotlight from Walsh.
“The mayor’s only intent is to be respectful of Mayor-elect Walsh,” Joyce said.
In previous interviews, Menino has said he would not seek to remain in the spotlight once he is no longer in office and does not plan to be publicly critical of the Walsh administration.Wesley Lowery can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @WesleyLowery.