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After a break, Martin Walsh centers on work

Mayor-elect Martin J. Walsh and Governor Deval Patrick met privately in the governor’s office at the State House Monday.
Mayor-elect Martin J. Walsh and Governor Deval Patrick met privately in the governor’s office at the State House Monday. Lane Turner/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

Mayor-elect Martin J. Walsh returned from a weeklong vacation and continued his transition to power at City Hall, meeting with residents Monday night in Dorchester to talk about their priorities and, earlier, with Governor Deval Patrick at the State House.

In his first major public meeting since being elected, Walsh promised that he would not be a stranger to the neighborhoods as he circled back to Dorchester to thank residents for their vote and ask for their support in his new administration.

Addressing dozens of people in a packed room at the Lee School on Talbot Avenue, Walsh heaped praise on the interim police commissioner, William Evans, and vowed to work with police, clergy, and residents to tackle tough issues, such as crime and education.


The mayor-elect also announced he would hold a town hall meeting at a later date.

“I want to come by and just say thank you,’’ Walsh told the residents at the meeting, which was hosted by District B-3 of the Boston Police Department. Before the meeting, residents were treated to a pre-Thanksgiving feast of turkey, macaroni and cheese, and pies.

“All that matters is that we are going to move Boston forward,” Walsh said.

He took a series of questions from residents, who grilled him mostly about his plans to curb crime and fix the ailing schools.

“As we look at the schools, we are going to look at zero to the 12th grade,’’ Walsh said, pledging to create good schools in every neighborhood. “We have some work to do there.”

The questions also targeted nuts-and-bolts community issues, such as whether Walsh will hire more school bus monitors to increase safety. The residents quizzed him on street cleaning, energy-efficient street lights, and drivers parking in spaces reserved for the disabled.

When a disabled elderly woman told him of her long fight trying to stop people from parking in front of her home, he promised to work with police to ticket and tow the vehicle.


But as Walsh vowed to fix the woman’s problem, Captain Joseph P. Boyle walked up to the mayor-elect and whispered that anyone could park there. Walsh corrected himself.

“We’ll look into it,’’ he said.

Walsh spoke for about 40 minutes. His first question came from a woman who had praise for the current mayor, Thomas M. Menino. “You have big shoes to fill,’’ she said.

She had a point, Walsh acknowledged.

“The current mayor did a lot of work, and people saw him,’’ he responded. “You are going to see me as well.”

Earlier Monday, Walsh and Patrick met privately in the governor’s office at the State House, terrain the mayor-elect knows well from his 16 years in the House of Representatives. A crowd of reporters and photographers clogged the hallway, where the two men emerged for a press conference.

“This is the first time I’ve come out of the governor’s office and so many people are waiting to hear what I have to say,” Walsh said. “The one thing I asked him [for] was more local aid. He smirked.”

Walsh turned to Patrick and flashed a smile.

“But we are going to have a good relationship,” Walsh said. “It’s important. What happens in Boston is also what happens in the state of Massachusetts.”

Standing next to Walsh, Patrick broke into a wide smile.


“This is a strong partnership, but it is not a new partnership,” Patrick said. “It’s one that goes back to when I first campaigned and has continued through our shared time in this building.”

Walsh was accompanied by familiar faces from his campaign, including field director Joe Rull; campaign manager Megan Costello; consultants Michael Goldman and Chris Keohan; and press secretary Kate Norton. The mayor-elect declined to provide specifics about his administration when asked whom he would tap for chief of staff.

“We haven’t made any personnel decisions yet,” Walsh said. “As far as transitions, we’re going to be making some more announcements later in the week.”

Before leaving for vacation, Walsh named six cochairs to his transition team, including one-time mayoral candidates Councilor at Large Felix G. Arroyo, former School Committee member John F. Barros, and former city housing chief Charlotte Golar Richie.

Walsh’s team is identifying issues for the transition, such as education and public safety. “As we flesh that out, that will be an indication of how big the transition committee will be,” Norton said.

Walsh and his girlfriend, Lorrie Higgins, returned Saturday from Turks and Caicos. On Sunday, Walsh jumped back into his mayoral schedule, attending a Boy Scouts pancake breakfast in West Roxbury and holding meetings about the transition.

At the end of Monday’s press conference, a reporter asked Walsh to share one tidbit from his weeklong break in Turks and Caicos.

“It was great,” Walsh said, adding that he got “a lot of rest. And I ate three times a day, so I put on some of the weight I lost during the campaign.”


Before Walsh left on his Caribbean vacation, there had been rampant speculation that he might propose to Higgins on the trip.

“No, he did not get engaged,” Norton said after the press conference. “But congratulations on being the first reporter to ask that question.”

Meghan E. Irons can be reached at meghan.irons@globe.com. Andrew Ryan can be reached at acryan@globe.com Follow him on Twitter @globeandrewryan.