BOSTON — The spotlight intensifies Tuesday night for Boston Mayor Thomas Menino as he delivers his 20th state of the city address at 7:30 p.m.
There is much speculation about Menino’s political future, following a series of health setbacks that have kept him out of the public eye.
“I know a lot of people will be on the edge of their seats to see what he says and how he says it,” said Boston City Councilor Bill Linehan.
Linehan echoed sentiments heard across the city in recent months. Menino’s health problems kept him hospitalized for the better part of two months, and still limit some of his activities.
“I think people are going to be looking at his physical appearance as much as what he says,” Councilor Frank Baker, of Dorchester, said. “I think like everybody we’re looking to see not only what the mayor says and what his vision for the upcoming year is, but also … the way he looks, the way he carries himself, if we think that he has it in him for another four years.”
At-Large Boston City Councilor and Council President Stephen Murphy had no doubts about Menino’s ability to fulfill his duties.
“You know, I’m one person that sees him pretty regularly,” Murphy said. “He’s doing much better. I think that people’s fears about about whether or not he’s up to the job will be allayed when they catch sight of him and listen to him.”
Roxbury Councilor Tito Jackson agrees.
“He’s looking better and sounding better and very much back to his old self,” Jackson said.
Murphy is first in line if the mayor leaves office early. Murphy expected Menino to use the speech to outline the fiscal challenges facing the city due to potential federal and state funding cuts.
“We need to know where our resources are coming from and how much we’re going to have to spend,” Murphy said. “So I think the mayor will talk about that being his most pressing challenge.”
At-Large City Councilor John Connolly expects the mayor to focus on school reform and reducing gang violence, but said it’s what happens after the speech that counts.
“The real question is, will action match the rhetoric?” Connolly said. “And when you are trying to push change in our schools and new approaches on violence, you have to ask yourself, will the action follow when you’ve presided over the status quo for 20 years?”