Angela Menino, wife of the late mayor Thomas M. Menino, announced her endorsement of City Councilor Michelle Wu in the mayoral race Thursday, saying she best embodies the commitment of caring for people that defined her late husband’s legacy.
“I know that when she worked for ‘Tommy,’ that he knew she was very special,” Menino told the Globe Thursday. “She seemed to have a deep compassion for people and a determination to improve the lives of people through the services the city provides. He really respected her.”
Wu worked for Menino, through a Harvard Law School fellowship, for two years beginning in 2010, and in that time she helped streamline the permitting process for restaurant owners. She also helped create a new system that enabled food trucks to operate for the first time in Boston.
Angela Menino said her husband was struck by Wu’s commitment to her work as she was attended law school and struggling to raise two younger sisters, after her mother suffered a mental health crisis. Wu took advantage of the mayor’s open-door policy to learn from him, she said.
“She always showed up,” she said.
Menino, who said she is actively enjoying retirement at age 78, said she has also witnessed Wu’s advocacy on her own, through their shared work with the Rosie’s Place homeless shelter for women, at community events including Chinatown banquets, and in everyday affairs in the Roslindale neighborhood where Angela Menino grew up, and where Wu now lives.
“She cares about people, she cares about helping those in the city, and she listens, like Tommy used to,” she said. “It was always about the people.”
Thursday’s endorsement adds to the list of support Wu has received from prominent community leaders, including Acting Mayor Kim Janey and Representative Ayanna Pressley, as well as community-based organizations and service employee unions.
It also underscores Wu’s effort to associate her governing style to that of Menino, the so-called “Urban Mechanic” who ran the city through its neighborhoods for an unprecedented 20 years. He died in 2014, at age 71, less than a year after leaving office.
Wu said Thursday that she was “humbled and grateful to have Mrs. Menino’s support and to be connected to the legacy of a leader in our city who opened doors for so many.”
She recalled her first experience with the then-mayor in 2010, during a meeting she was unexpectedly asked to attend with top administration officials. Menino angrily commanded those in the room to speed up work to redevelop the Bolling Municipal Building in Roxbury and transform it into the public school headquarters, which was supposed to bring new economic development opportunities to the neighborhood.
“We needed to make sure we were in the neighborhoods, connected to people,” she recalled Menino saying. Only five minutes after the meeting, Menino was at Wu’s desk, grinning: “How’d I do, kid?”
“It was a reminder that he wanted me to know, even in my first introduction to city government, that it was always going to be focused on residents outside the building, and moving as quick as possible to get things done,” Wu said.
“It was really amazing to see what was possible in city government, and I will always carry the lessons of city government being the place [where] you can help people, day-by-day, with the little things that are huge in peoples’ daily lives,” she said.