The Slatest

Thomas Menino, Boston’s Longest-Serving Mayor, Dies at 71

Menino welcomes President Obama to Boston during last year’s World Series.

Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, an old-fashioned machine politician who became the city’s longest-tenured mayor ever—serving from 1993 until last year and never winning election by less than 15 percent of the vote—died today of cancer. He was 71.

From the Boston Globe:

“Visionaries don’t get things done,” he once said, crisply separating himself from politicians who gaze at distant horizons and imagine what might be. Leaving to others the lofty rhetoric of Boston as the Athens of America, he took a decidedly ground-level view of the city on a hill, earning himself a nickname for his intense focus on the nuts and bolts of everyday life: the urban mechanic.

Menino was hospitalized with a broken leg three days before the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, but he checked himself out to make public appearances in the aftermath of the terrorist attack. He rose from his wheelchair to speak at a service commemorating those who died:

Perhaps his most significant stand on a national issue came in the the 1990s, when Menino—the city’s first mayor of Italian ancestry—marched in Boston’s gay pride parade but not South Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, which excluded LGBT groups.

A remarkable fact from the Globe’s obit:

More than half of the Bostonians who responded to a 2008 Globe poll said they had met him personally.

The city’s population is more than 600,000.