BOSTON — Boston Mayor Thomas Menino delivered his State of the City address (transcript, video) Tuesday night, sending a clear message that after a long illness that kept him out of the spotlight since October, he’s back.
It was with sheer confidence that a slimmed-down Menino walked down the center aisle to the refrains of Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger.”
He used a cane and didn’t climb the stairs to the main stage, instead speaking from a podium in front of the stage. There was a chair nearby, but the mayor did not use it. He stood throughout the nearly 30-minute speech.
“I stand before you a grateful mayor,” Menino said.
With a nod to Gov. Deval Patrick and other politicians, including about a half dozen members of Congress, Menino thanked the medical teams that treated him over the past few months, and Bostonians who sent well wishes during the time he was hospitalized.
“Thank you,” he said. “You pulled me through.”
His report on the state of the city was all optimism as he touted the work of his administration over the past two decades and promised new initiatives ahead, including new business development, $30 million in investments to improve school quality, and efforts by neighborhood and public safety teams to improve quality of life.
“Those who bring guns and drugs into our neighborhoods should know, we will bring you to justice,” Menino said. “Homicides are down in Boston again, violent crime and property crime are down 28 percent for the last seven years.”
And there was an ambitious pledge to advance equality in the year ahead.
“2013 will also make Boston a premier city for working women,” he said. “Among other steps, we’ll make Boston the first city in the country to achieve pay equity for women.”
In a night of standing ovations, that remark drew the longest applause. Menino promised a series of initiatives to make that happen — targeting areas including affordable child care and networking opportunities.
“I think the mayor is back,” Boston City Councilor Rob Consalvo said after the speech. “I think he gave an impressive speech tonight, laid out an ambitious agenda for 2013 and make no mistake about it, he is ready to go.”
The Rev. Eugene Rivers said the mayor sent a message to anyone who’s thinking about running for the city’s top job this year.
“The way the mayor walked into this hall tonight at one level said it all,” Rivers said. “He walked in with such confidence and swag, just the way he comported himself … it was impressive.”
Dorchester resident Trina Matos-Ambroise verbalized what many in the packed hall came to see — they wanted to know how the mayor is doing.
“I thought he looked good,” Matos-Ambroise said. “I can tell that he’s healing and that’s really what I came to see — to see if we can get another four years out of him. I think he can do it.”
The mayor has not said yet whether he will seek re-election to an unprecedented sixth term in office.
This post was updated with Morning Edition feature content.