A little over a year ago, I sat at the table with our Consumer Advocacy Team discussing the approaching Mayoral election in Boston. The group of mothers shared their Get Out The Vote efforts, their perspectives on the candidates and how they planned to fit voting into their busy days. It was a jovial conversation- advocates love elections and having our votes counted and voices heard. But one mother was being uncharacteristically quiet. Then, she slowly raised her head and declared, “I am just not ready for another Mayor.”
I was struck by the sincerity of the statement and the significance of a transition after 20 years. But more than that, I was moved by the magnitude of hope inspired by Mayor Menino. This sentiment was coming from a mother who was homelessness because she could no longer afford the high cost of rent in Boston; from a mother who has lost family members to community violence; from a mother who struggled to ensure her children received the proper education and support for their disabilities in the Boston Public Schools. For her and too many Bostonians, stability, safety, and success feel out of reach. But she was not ready for another Mayor. She believed in her Mayor’s leadership, his vision, his intentions, and the progress the city made towards his ideals, towards our ideals. Mayor Menino’s presence, personality, power, and programs provided comfort to those most in need; Bostonians- regardless of class, race, gender, sexual orientation, or circumstance- knew that the Mayor had their backs.