The Urban Mechanic is closing his tool kit. Leaving office with 73 percent of Bostonians thinking the city is heading in the right direction, most people agree that outgoing Mayor Tom Menino put many elements in place for Boston to be one of the world’s greatest cities.
For that leap into greatness, the city now needs an urban weaver to knit and braid Boston into complete cloth. It needs a mayor that can collaborate with the bordering suburbs, particularly high-tech Cambridge. It needs a mayor with a microscopic eye for potholes and crime and a telescopic lens into the future role of education, industry, and transportation.
Menino brought Boston into a more modern age. This week Boston was hailed as the most energy-efficient city in the nation by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. But development remains too helter-skelter and insular for a city that desperately needs master planning for density, mobility, affordability, and community input.
Meanwhile, massive disparities remain in the public schools, with flagship Boston Latin being only 20 percent African-American and Latino in a city that is 40 percent so. Police promotions remain beset with racial problems. Huge swaths of the city remain without adequate bus service. In short, Menino’s time was good, but his style has run its course.
Voters in the current election should be looking for candidates who know what they want to do beyond tackling the city’s most immediate, most evident challenges. The two finalists from Tuesday’s preliminary election should be competing to make Boston a city for the ages.
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