Mayor Menino Reflects On His Career During Talk at UMass Lowell

The long-time elected official took a stroll down memory lane, as he prepares to depart from his political career.

Mayor Tom Menino won’t say much about his plans once he finally retires his title as the top-elected official of the city of Boston, but a book and a job at a local university are on the list.

During a chat at UMass Lowell on Monday, Menino, the city’s longest-serving mayor, swatted away inquiries pressing him about who he would vote for on November 5, and where he will work next. “No, I’m not going to tell you [who I’m voting for],” Menino told the event’s moderator. “I have ideas, but I’m not going to tell you who I’m voting for.”

While he was mum on the subject of his successor, Menino wasn’t shy about other topics. “I can say whatever I want now. Seventy-seven more days and I’m free at last. Free at last,” he said at the start of the event, recounting his 20 years in City Hall, a building he proudly proclaimed was the “ugliest building in the world.”

The event Monday started with some soft pitches, including asking Menino if he had tickets to the World Series games between the Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals. Menino said he is a season ticket-holder, but that he always sells his seats to friends during the year. He told the moderator that he would figure out a way to be at one of the games, however.

Looking back at his achievements over the years, when asked what he was most proud of, Menino said it was his ability to diversify Boston in the last two decades. Menino touted being on the forefront of the gay rights movement, and his role in helping the city become less racially segregated. Menino said he has stood up for gay rights since day one, and will continue to do so. As for racism being an issue in Boston, the mayor claimed he has brought the city together like never before, and said racism is now something “you don’t read about…anymore.” That topic has been hotly debated amongst leaders in the community, however. 

Steering away from political and neighborhood issues, the mayor said he has a lot lined up for when he finally steps down in 77 days. Menino is working on a book about his life and vast political career with Jack Beatty, author of “The Rascal King,” which chided the work of former Mayor James Michael Curley. Menino’s book is due to hit shelves in March of 2014.

Menino also admitted that he is exploring some teaching opportunities at universities in Boston. He said he has received offers from Harvard, Suffolk, BU, and “other schools,” and is prepared to announce where he will be doing some work focused on “government” issues at the tail end of his political career.

“I’m not saying who the front-runner is. Whoever gives me a deal…but it’s not about money,” he said, adding that he wants to continue to do work with young people in Boston.

He said money never mattered during his time as mayor, and that it was always about the constituents, and it will remain that way even in retirement.

Besides avoiding his voting record and job prospects, Menino was also secretive about a trip he plans on taking with his wife, once the new mayor of Boston takes office.

The event was part of UMass Lowell’s ongoing “Lunchtime Lecture Series.”