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Boston College Expert: Menino Legacy

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He certainly was an unusual guy. You would have to say that he was a successful mayor but it’s not obvious why. He had this ability to act as if he was less in charge of things than he was in charge of things. His odd way of speaking was a symbol of that.

I think Tom Menino is going to be remembered for a lot of things - one was his mastery of retail politics. A huge percentage of people had actually met the mayor so he was very good at keeping himself right there in front of the voters.

He was also the first of what we will see in a line of mayors who don’t have a lot of competition. When he stepped into the mayor’s office after Ray Flynn went to the Vatican, the first time he ran for re-election there were four or five people interested but after that, he pretty much had the field to himself. 

People will remember Menino for being mayor at a time when Boston seems to have recovered from the doldrums of the 1960’s and 70’s. Clearly the city is in much better shape economically than it was before he was the mayor. Boston suffered from the crash and benefitted from the boom and Menino did not get in the way of that. He helped facilitate the development of neighborhoods that had been neglected in the past. As you drive around the city, most people would say Boston looks better than it did twenty years ago and that’s a credit to Tom Menino – that’s part of his legacy.

Comments by
Dennis Hale
Professor of Political Science
Boston College
617-552-4165 (o)
781-799-7245 (cell)

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Sean Hennessey
Associate Director
Office of News and Public Affairs
Boston College

(617) 552-3630 (office)
(617) 943-4323 (cell)