The race to succeed Thomas Menino as mayor is getting underway in a Boston that is steadily banishing most of the demons of its 20th-century history. The curse of the Bambino is over. Whitey Bulger is on trial. And Menino’s genuine commitment to inclusion has taken many of the ethnic and racial antagonisms of the 1970s off the table. Suddenly, a city that lost population for decades after World War II is growing faster than the state as a whole. In this hopeful new environment, even a gruesome terrorist attack on the Boston Marathon, one of the city’s signature public events, ended up unifying rather than dividing the populace.
The candidates seeking to lead today’s Boston ought to acknowledge how much it differs from the city that Menino inherited in 1993. Each owes the voters an account of how he or she would open Boston up to the challenges and possibilities of this next stage in the city’s history — and let go of the baggage of the last one.