For a minute or so on Tuesday night after the near-capacity crowd in Veterans Memorial Auditorium watched a video featuring Lynn’s new mayor and other elected officials, Thomas M. McGee stood on the auditorium stage looking at his audience.
As he stood there alone in the spotlight, it was hard to tell if the ponderous weight of his new job had settled onto McGee’s shoulder or if he was still savoring a night of pomp, circumstance and applause.
But no one needed to be able to read McGee’s mind Tuesday tonight to conclude he views himself as a collaborator, not a leader, in the task he has set himself upon with a ringing endorsement from Lynn voters.
“We are at our best when we are working together to make everyone’s dream a reality,” McGee said during a inaugural speech that sketched out his immigrant past and quoted Robert F. Kennedy.
New mayors often lean on to-do lists during inaugural speeches. Not McGee. He made a brief reference Tuesday to initiatives he plans to unveil: A comprehensive budget review; reengagement on school projects with the state; stronger partnerships with North Shore Community College and Salem State University and the community forums his staff will organize over the next several months.
McGee spent more time during his speech illustrating his passion for bringing together Lynn residents to improve their city. In talking about his Irish heritage and the sense of humbleness he felt in rising to become leader of his city, he telegraphed a poignant message to people who have lived in the city for generations or for only a few weeks.
Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s presence at McGee’s inaugural was more than a gesture of respect: It signaled McGee’s interest and willingness in leaning on his counterparts for advice and assistance as he begins to chart his mayorship.
He talked about the “… need to come together” and “… work collectively” to address the city’s needs. McGee’s perspective is interesting and innovative. He built his political career in the State House where consensus and compromise are the watchwords. McGee zeroed in on transportation as his expertise area but he was mindful as a state representative and subsequently as a state senator that he needed to work with colleagues to get results.
His clarion call to fellow Lynn residents on Tuesday night was, “We’re all in this together and the absence of one person from constructive debate is a loss to everyone.”
Managing a city with a $304 million budget is a new challenge for McGee. Trading his legislator’s hat for one labeled chief executive means McGee must rely on the advice and expertise of others to succeed. He knows he has to hit the ground running to tackle the city’s financial problems and his vow to undertake a substantial city finance review is refreshing and will probably be revealing.
Mayors, as U.S. Sen. Edward J. Markey noted in his remarks to the inaugural audience, have a tough job that occasionally feels thankless. McGee isn’t looking for praise as he rolls up his sleeves and gets down to work; he is looking for everyone in this city is move in the same direction with him to make Lynn even greater.