By Rebeca Oliveira and Peter Shanley/Gazette Staff
When Mayor Thomas Menino leaves office on Jan. 6, he will leave more behind than just his office. His 20 years as mayor have left indelible memories in the hearts of his constituents. Some JP residents shared their thoughts with the Gazette last week.
Howard Leibowitz, former Menino aide
“It’s been a privilege to work with somebody who cares so much about the neighborhoods and is open to new ideas and approaches to make our city better. He’s always committed to getting the job done.”
Kathie Mainzer, co-owner Bella Luna Restaurant and Milky Way Lounge
“Mayor Menino has been a huge champion and partner to small businesses throughout the city. From his leadership establishing and supporting Main Street programs, to establishing the city’s [Neighborhood Restaurant Initiative], to his advocacy at the state and federal levels for public safety and gun reform, Mayor Menino has been a valued friend of small business and neighborhood business districts. We will miss him, but appreciate his many legacies to Jamaica Plain.”
Rebecca Haag, CEO, AIDS Action Committee
“Menino was probably the most important political figure for people living with HIV in Boston. He has been a longtime advocate, from the time he was on City Council. He walked the talk. He came to every AIDS Walk in the last 11 years, except once when he was in the hospital. He’s really a hero for the gay community and people living with HIV/AIDS.”
State Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez
“I started my career in government working for the mayor,” said Sánchez, noting that he was Menino’s liaison to the Hispanic community in Jamaica Plain, East Boston and Mission Hill.
He commended Menino for the work he has down on Centre Street with the Main Street programs and for helping in the redevelopment of Jackson Square. Sánchez said that when talks began in mid-1990s about redeveloping Jackson Square, Menino was there to bring people together through the difficulty of it all.
He also praised Menino for the investment and resources he has brought to the Bromley-Heath housing development, including summer jobs for teens.
Larry DiCara, former city councilor and political historian
“Tom Menino has been a great mayor. He leaves the city in far better financial shape than he found it. Other cities must envy Boston’s AAA bond rating.”
He said that Menino has been a “very inclusive” mayor, noting that he refused to march in the St. Patrick’s Day parade in South Boston because gays and lesbians are banned from marching.
“It is a policy now agreed upon by the great majority of the City’s elected officials. History will be kind to Tom Menino.”