It’s Marty Walsh’s City Now

And get ready, Mayor Walsh: Pretty much the only thing not up to you is the weather.

Photo via AP

Photo via AP

A stubborn mist lifted slowly beneath ash-grey skies, and ice clung to the edges of the Chestnut Hill Reservoir—the weather being one of the few things in the city not under the control of Martin J. Walsh as of 11:07 Monday morning, when he concluded the oath of office inside Boston College’s Conte Forum.

Walsh took charge in a briskly paced ceremony before a nearly-full arena. His 20-minute oration was workmanlike and appropriate to the task, setting forth his priorities of jobs, public safety, education, and government openness, with a general tenor to the direction but few specifics on the path.

That’s fine. Walsh might very well be a leader who finds good people with similar vision, and lets them chart a course with his assistance. That would be a welcome change from the sense—only partly exaggerated—that Tom Menino feels he must personally control every twitch and twig in Boston. That perception has served to keep good ideas out for years, and good people, too; many will now be eager to contribute their time, resources, thoughts, and funds if they feel more welcome.

Indeed, I suspect that the oversize image of Menino’s benevolence will shrink rapidly, if Walsh’s administration proves reasonably competent. Fresh people, energy, and thinking—and, I hope, openness—will expose by contrast the stagnation and staleness of the Menino fin de siècle.

On the other hand, Walsh and his team will soon learn the difference between being a big-city mayor and, well, anything else. Nothing else combines the spotlight focus of executive responsibility with the intensely personal ways in which constituents interact with local issues.

And as he gave his address today, he could see through the teleprompter to a floor crowded with former and future mayoral aspirants, along with scores of ambitious climbers soon to be passed over for posts in the Walsh administration. In local politics, there is no rest for the winner.

But as of today, Walsh has something none of them do: the office. He fits it well; he already seems properly mayoral to me, a form and face I can envision before the klieg lights and podia when the city turns to hear from its leader.

Now, if he could only do something about the weather.