By Seth Daniel and Beth Treffeisen
City Councilor Bill Linehan shocked the political scene this week when he abruptly resigned from office on Wednesday, Oct. 18, just three months from the official end of his term.
He followed that up with another surprise, endorsing District 2 Candidate Ed Flynn – also of South Boston Wednesday afternoon.
That was something that Linehan had hinted he probably would not do and had said he would likely stay neutral in the race. That all changed in the matter of a few days.
Flynn did not immediately comment before Sun deadlines.
Meanwhile, District 2 candidate Mike Kelley said it was good, old-boy politics.
“This represents more of the same, cementing Boston in the past,” I am proud of my growing diverse slate of true progressive, forward-thinking endorsers, including Attorney General Maura Healey, Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry and Planned Parenthood. I knock on hundreds of doors every day and people tell me they support the value on which my campaign is founded, putting people first.”
Observers in the South End supporting Kelley said they hoped it would ignite a fire under the electorate in the South End, which failed to show up in large numbers for the hometown candidate, Kelley, in the Preliminary Election. Many in the South End have said they felt they never got great representation from Linehan, especially after a majority of the South End backed Suzanne Lee in the previous election. Lee lost by only a few hundred votes to Linehan.
Those in the neighborhoods backing Flynn weren’t surprised, and said Linehan had every right to back the candidate he believes will continue his work best – especially since that candidate is the front-runner in the race.
The move came out of left field for most, with word of the resignation filtering out on Monday evening. Linehan made the announcement at the council meeting on Wednesday.
“Today is my end to public service – 43 years in public service,” he said. “I had great jobs, and I worked with great people,” he said. “We achieved some truly significant things. Each remind ourselves how we got here today and recognize the people and efforts that came here before us. To all those I’ve served in the past and those who served before that I want to say thank you. I want to thank the people who taught me the importance of politics at a young age, Mom, Dad and Gramps. My Mom once told me, when you go somewhere make sure the place is in a better shape than when you got there and I hope I did – thank you.”
Mayor Martin Walsh was at the meeting on Wednesday, and presented Linehan with a silver Paul Revere bowl to commemorate his years of service.
“Thank you, Billy, for what you’ve done,” he said. “This job is the closet you will ever be to the people. You get to go to civic meetings and hear happiness and sadness in their lives. I want thank you for your work in economic development and planning, redistricting and work on South Boston waterfront development in keeping the area an inclusive area of our city. I am here on behalf of citizens of Boston to thank you for your gratitude and appreciation and wish you good luck in all of your future endeavors.”
Linehan did not give any clues as to why he was leaving abruptly and with only a few months to go.
Linehan has told the Sun previously that while he might not be in the building as a city employee, he would still be working on initiatives that have to do with things in the city. Many have believed that to be code for him setting up some type of consulting business. In a statement on Wednesday, he echoed those sentiments.
“I remain committed to serving my fellow citizens in new and exciting ways,” he said. “I will continue my work to facilitate growth in our communities through housing and jobs and will serve as a valuable liaison between the business community and the City.”
Elected in 2007 in a special election to succeed James M. Jim Kelly, Linehan became only the second councilor elected to the seat since 1983.
As City Councilor, Bill Linehan chaired the Committee on Economic Development and Planning for his tenure, except while presiding as President of the Council in 2014-2015. As President, Councilor Linehan worked closely with the new Walsh administration; leveraging his years of experience in City Hall to help with what seems to have been a smooth transition of power and unprecedented growth in the City of Boston. Linehan and his wife Judy have been married for 44 years. They have four adult children and seven grandchildren.