Is Bill Linehan leaving the City Council?
That’s the word swirling in and outside City Hall.
The South Boston Democrat tried to address the hubbub Tuesday, saying he’s not retiring or stepping down — just yet.
Linehan did say he is considering a few career options that might cause him to depart the council, including working for a nonprofit or a company, or serving as a consultant.
“I have been approached to maybe try something different,’’ Linehan said in an a telephone interview. “I’ve not in any way stated that I would leave the council.”
The long presidential campaign has one week left, and councilors will then be gearing up for their reelections. Linehan said he is planning an end-of-the year fund-raiser, which indicates, he said, that he’s made no decisions about his future.
Still, speculation about his departure has been evident for months and intensified lately.
At age 65 — with a December birthday looming — Linehan said he is at a stage in his life when he has to decide his next steps.
Recently, some supporters have been asking him about prospects outside of the council, Linehan said. Others have asked him to stick around.
If he leaves at the end of the year, he would depart as the most senior councilor serving. A special election would have to be held.
Linehan was elected about a decade ago to replace James M. Kelly, South Boston’s first district councilor. Kelly died of cancer after more than two decades in office, and Linehan was elected as the second councilor to represent District 2, which also includes Chinatown and parts of downtown and the South End, since the council districts were established in 1983.
Flush with both young professionals and neighborhood stalwarts, it is one of the most politically and financially powerful districts in the city.
“This district is the engine that runs the entire city,’’ Linehan said. “Having a 10-year veteran leave would have an impact.”
Linehan’s professional career includes 12 years at the University of Massachusetts Boston and 30 years in city government.
The former council president said he still has some important council work that needs to be finished, including getting a vote on whether to increase the alcohol tax to help pay for substance abuse services.
He’s also working on boosting water transportation on the Boston Harbor. An effort he pushed to rezone parts of the district finally has a date with the Zoning Board of Appeals this month, he said.
“There’s a whole bunch of things that I’m still working on,’’ he said. “I see a role going forward.”
Linehan’s tenure is not without controversy. He led the fight to the mayor’s office to increase councilor’s salaries last year. His redistricting plan drew fire. And he’s often regarded as an “old guard” in Boston politics.
Linehan laughed when asked about being defined as “old guard.” Jokingly he said that he had to stay on the council long enough for that label to stick.
“You can’t be distracted by name-calling and by people trying to distract you from your objectives,’’ he said. “I’m very proud of the work I’ve done.”