An emotional Mayor Thomas Menino began the long goodbye Thursday, saying farewell to a city that he has led and transformed over the last 20 years.
Menino walked in to a Faneuil Hall packed with hundreds of cheering supporters and staffers, some of them holding “thank you” signs. Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” played on the speakers.
Standing next to his wife Angela, children and grandchildren, Menino didn't talk specifically about what led him to decide against running again, but he said he could no longer do the job like he wanted to do it.
“I am here with the people that I love, to tell the city I love, that I will leave the job that I love,” a choked-up Menino said. “I can run, I can win, and I can lead, but not ‘in-the-neighborhoods-all-the-time’ as I like.”
The 70-year-old from Hyde Park got a stand ovation when he mentioned that he could win. But Menino will not need to win an election again and acknowledged that speaking off script at the end of his speech.
“I’ve got nine months left. Just think of what I can do in nine months. I don’t have to worry about anything, voters or anything. We can have some real fun,” Menino said to applause and laughter.
Speaking about the future, Menino urged voters to “choose someone who loves this city as much as I have.” He has not said who he may support as his successor.
Menino, the longest-serving mayor in city history, will finish out his final term at the end of the year. He said he “grappled” with the decision whether to run again for about the last six days. While he will not work in City Hall anymore come next year, he said he planned to say “very engaged” in Boston’s future.
Speaking to reporters after his speech, Menino was asked if he would be at work at City Hall on Friday.
"Where else would I be," he said.