Boston mayor announces he won't seek re-election
BOSTON (AP) -- An at times emotional Boston Mayor Thomas Menino told well-wishers gathered at the city's historic Faneuil Hall on Thursday that he won't seek re-election to an unprecedented sixth term after nearly two decades in office.
"I am here with the people I love, to tell the city I love, that I will leave the job that I love," Menino said, with his wife Angela and family by his side. "I can run, I can win and I can lead, but not in the neighborhoods all the time as I like."
Menino, who used a cane to walk to the podium, has had persistent health problems including a six-week hospital stay last year to treat a respiratory infection and a compression fracture in his spine. Menino also was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
But the city's longest serving mayor told the crowd that he is on the mend. Still, he said, it's not enough to keep the pace that has become his trademark.
"I'm back to a mayor's schedule, but not a Menino schedule," he said. "Spending so much time in the neighborhoods gives me energy.... It may not be the only way to lead Boston, but it's the only way for me."
Menino spoke for about 12 minutes and received a three-minute standing ovation.
During his comments, Menino alluded to a poll that once indicated that more than half of the city's residents had said they'd personally met him.
He also acknowledged that his decision not to run again is expected to trigger a political stampede to fill the coveted office.
"I have no plans to pick the person to fill this seat," he said. "I just ask that you choose someone who loves this city as much as I do."
President Barack Obama praised Menino's tenure in a statement.
"Boston is the vibrant, welcoming, and world-class city it is today because of Tom Menino," Obama said in a statement. "For more than two decades, Mayor Menino has served the city and every one of its residents with extraordinary leadership, vision, and compassion."
Although Menino wasn't always the smoothest of political figures, he earned a reputation as one of the hardest working, from filling potholes to shaping the city's skyline.
A recent Boston Globe poll showed the 70-year-old Menino was viewed favorably by a wide margin of city residents, although less than half said they wanted him to run again. Most political watchers assumed Menino could have cruised to another victory.
Menino said that despite his decision, he's not done yet.
"I have nine months left. Just think what I can do in nine months," he said. "We can have some real fun."