As she ran errands in Dudley Square Monday morning, Dorothy Boswell kept an eye on the clock. For the first time in two decades, Boston had a new mayor, and Boswell wanted to get home to watch his inauguration speech on television.
Boswell did not vote for Martin J. Walsh, but she is hopeful he will do well.
“If he does like Menino, he’ll be all right,” said the 80-year-old.
Across the city Monday, many echoed that sentiment, saying they were optimistic Walsh would prove to be a worthy successor to the popular Menino — at least in time. They celebrated the first victory by a Dorchester native in half a century and said they looked forward to change that lay ahead.
“The groundwork is there,” said Dave Johnson, 51, of the South End. “He doesn’t have to be Menino, as long as he is good to the people.”
In Savin Hill, where Walsh grew up and still lives, excitement over his inauguration ran high. At Dorchester Tire Service, a small group gathered around a television to watch Walsh being sworn in.
“There he is,” said John Mullaney, a city worker who brought his truck to the shop with a flat tire.
‘He’s been a real part of the community, and not in a showy way. You get the feeling that he’s one of us.’
“Is that his mother, Johnny?’’ asked Joe Dillon, a fellow city worker, as he stood close to the screen.
Mullaney, from Adams Corner in Dorchester, said he has come to admire Walsh, his labor pedigree, and his roots in the neighborhood. As he watched him become mayor, he spoke with pride.
“He’s from Dorchester, he’s a local guy, and he’s a working guy,’’ said Mullaney, a supervisor of construction in the city’s public works department.
At the shop, and elsewhere across the city, Walsh’s inauguration was cause for celebration and a time to look ahead.
“There is a lot of hope here,’’ said David Skirkey, a South Boston resident who works as a guard at the Museum of Fine Arts. “It’s that kind of day.”
Amid the excitement, however, was the keen awareness that succeeding Menino could well be daunting for Walsh and that expectations are often dashed by political realities.
“It’s a huge task that is before him,’’ said Al Flynt, an advocate for the homeless who lives in Dorchester.
From Dudley to Copley Square, many people said they were confident that the city is headed in the right direction. But they urged the new mayor to be aggressive with plans to reduce crime, spur job growth, and improve the public schools.
“We need a better education system,” said Theresa Garrison, 61. “A lot of families have to leave the city for better schools, and that’s not right.”
Garrison, who lives in Roxbury, said she expected Walsh to bring new ideas to City Hall and hopes he will listen to a wide range of constituencies.
“You have to reach out to everybody,” she said. “You can’t just hear one voice.”
Like many residents, Garrison said she had mixed emotions about Walsh’s inauguration. She said she would miss Menino, who after so many years in office had become a familiar, reassuring presence. At the same time, Walsh’s arrival holds the promise of a new era.
“I think he’ll do great,” said Charles Leon, 34, as he paused along Washington Street in the South End.
On the heels of the busy holiday season and a snowstorm, many city residents admitted that the inauguration had slipped their mind and said they had given little thought to city politics since the November election.
But now that Walsh has taken office, they said they look forward to seeing the kind of mayor he will be.
At McKenna’s Café in Savin Hill, where Walsh is a regular, diners described him as a neighborhood fixture with a down-to-earth quality they said would serve him well.
“He’s been a real part of the community, and not in a showy way,” said Larry Pryor, who has lived in Savin Hill for 30 years. “You get the feeling that he’s one of us.”
But now that Walsh is Boston’s mayor, his everyman appeal will only take him so far, some warned.
“I voted for him,’’ said Scott Rose, 47. “However, I’m counting on him to follow through and stand by his word. He’s a nice guy, but he has his work cut out for him.”