May 7, 2002

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino is New President
of U.S. Conference of Mayors

Promotes agenda for working families; Will lead National Housing Forum May 21-22 in Washington

Boston -- Thomas M. Menino, the popular third-term mayor of Boston, became President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors today. Menino said he will use his 13-month tenure as spokesman for the nation's 1139 mayors to promote the needs of America's working families (download the speech here). As a first step in this effort, he called for a National Housing Forum later this month to build an effective coalition and comprehensive set of policy recommendations to address the nation's affordable housing crisis.

From L. to R.: North Little Rock Mayor Patrick Henry Hays, Somerville (MA) Mayor Dorothy Kelly Gay, Conference Executive Director J. Thomas Cochran, Boise Mayor H. Brent Coles, Mayor Menino, Hempstead (NY) Mayor James A. Garner and Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic
"When asked how I want to be remembered, I've always said that I want my legacy to be about people not skylines," said Mayor Menino. "That's why I have made education, housing, health care, and neighborhood revitalization my top priorities; that's what matters most to working families. As someone who always wants a return on his investment, I have found that investing in people yields the greatest results."

The National Housing Forum will be held in Washington, DC on May 21-22, 2002. Participants will include former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Henry Cisneros, current U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Mel Martinez (invited), mayors, members of Congress, housing policy advocates, and representatives of the public health, public education, labor, and business communities. The forum will assemble a diverse national coalition to help address the nation's affordable housing crisis. Mayors will discuss and draft a detailed set of policy recommendations to promote production and preservation of affordable workforce housing and homeownership.

Specific housing priorities to be addressed at the forum include:

  • Homeownership - the highest homeownership rate in history has left minorities behind and purchasing a first home is an impossible financial challenge for many;
  • Rental housing - a critical problem for low- and moderate-income individuals and families, with many paying more than 50 percent of their household income for rent;
  • Public housing - much of this housing stock is in need of rehabilitation, and its importance and effectiveness is widely misunderstood; and
  • Preservation of low-income housing - low-income housing is threatened by market forces.

"Strong cities make a strong nation," said Mayor Menino. "It's important for mayors to be able to meet to share ideas and experiences and to plan for the future. And, in order to protect the future of working families, we need to create and maintain housing that's affordable. Cities can't do it alone. Everyone needs to do their part to bring relief to families who are being priced out."

At a City Hall ceremony today, Menino was officially handed the gavel to signify his new leadership role by Boise Mayor Brent Coles, Conference President from 2000-2001.

"Tom Menino has been an exceptional Mayor and he will be an exceptional President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors," said Mayor Coles. "We are fortunate to be able to call upon him and his leadership skills during this critical period for cities - and the entire nation. I look forward to working with him." Founded in 1933, the U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with population of 30,000 or more. The primary roles of the Conference of Mayors are to:

  • Promote the development of effective national urban/suburban policy;
  • Strengthen federal-city relationships;
  • Ensure that federal policy meets urban needs;
  • Provide mayors with leadership and management tools; and
  • Create a forum in which mayors can share ideas and information.

Mayor Menino is the Conference's 60th President, following three other Boston mayors who have held the position - Raymond L. Flynn, John B. Hynes, and James M. Curley. As President, Mayor Menino will preside at the Conference's 70th annual meeting in Madison this June and the 71st annual meeting in Denver in June, 2003.

Also in attendance at today's event were Governor Jane Swift; Congressman Michael Capuano; Hempstead (NY) Mayor James A. Garner, a Republican who will serve as Vice President of the Conference, effective next month; Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic, a Trustee of the Conference; North Little Rock Mayor Patrick Henry Hays, also a Trustee of the Conference; and Somerville Mayor Dorothy Kelly Gay. Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce Chairman Thomas Hollister, Joe Nigro, President of Greater Boston Building Trades, and Reverend Ray Hammond were among Mayor Menino's invited guests.

Mayor Menino has earned a national reputation for getting things done. His priorities in Boston have included providing every child a quality education, creating affordable housing, lowering the crime rate, revitalizing Boston's neighborhoods, and promoting a healthy lifestyle for all city residents. In November, he was recognized as Public Official of the Year by Governing magazine, which called him "a champion of neighborhood commerce."

"Mayors across the nation, Republicans and Democrats, regularly look to Boston to learn how Mayor Menino is successfully applying creative solutions and best practices to the most difficult challenges facing cities," said J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director of the Conference. "His leadership is recognized and valued across the country." More information about the Conference is available online at

Andy Solomon, (202) 861-6766


©2004 U.S. Conference of Mayors