The Day President Biden Met Jamaica Plain’s Former City Councilor John Tobin

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Would you believe that President Joe Biden thinks that a city councilor has the toughest elected job in the country? That's what he told former District 6 City Councilor John Tobin.

Former Boston City Councilor John Tobin with then-U.S. Senator Joe Biden in 2007.


Joe Biden's inscription to former Boston City Councilor John Tobin.

Tobin, currently the Vice President of City and Community Relations at Northeastern University, shared the story on his personal Facebook page. (Tobin gave permission to Jamaica Plain News to republish his post.)

Back in 2007, the late, great Larry Rasky hosted a meet and greet for US Senator Joe Biden who was running for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. I was struck by what a relaxed and casual affair it was. Senator Biden, before he spoke, made sure to walk around with Larry and greet each guest.

Larry introduced me to Biden and said 'Senator, this is John Tobin who is a friend of mine and a Boston City Councillor.' Biden smiled broadly and put his hand on my shoulder and said, 'Wow, city councillor is the toughest elected job in America.'

Having never met him in person, I first thought perhaps he was being patronizing. So, I replied, 'well Senator, I would think being a US Senator is tad bit harder.' Biden laughed and said, 'John, I was a city councillor before I was elected Senator. My first poll as I considered running for the Senate had me down by 50 points! I ran not to win but to get off the city council!!' After he spoke, he then personally signed copies of his book, Promises To Keep. In my book, he wrote, 'To John, City Council is much harder than US Sen. That’s why I switched. Thanks, Joe.'

That quick conversation and a couple of subsequent ones after he became VP, showed some sort of humility, sense of self awareness and humor that is severely lacking in much of today’s politics and everyday life in general. There are things that a President can do and others they cannot. The biggest thing they can do though, I feel, is to set the tone for our country and for much of the world. I’m hopeful and optimistic that we have the right person at the right time to do just that.