The nicknames of “Mayor Pothole” (or “Pothole Mayor") and “Senator Pothole” generally indicate a politiician who pays attention to constituent services. Al D’Amato was a United States Senator from New York from 1981 to 1999. D’Amato was called “Senator Pothole” from at least 1986. The nickname was originally made to be an insult, showing that D’Amato confined himself to small issues while New York’s other senator, Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1927-2003), thought about national and world issues. However, D’Amato used “Senator Pothole” as a badge of pride.
A mayor doesn’t have state, national and world issues to focus on, and “Mayor Pothole” is almost always a positive nickname. “Utica, N.Y., Mayor Edward Hanna submitted his resignation saying he did not want to become a ‘pothole mayor’ in a dying city” was cited in 1976. Xavier Suárez, who served a mayor of Miami (FL) from 1985 to 1993, was called “Pothole Mayor” and “Mayor Pothole. Thomas Menino (1942-2014), who was mayor of Boston (MA) from 1993 to 2014, also received the “Mayor Pothole” nickname.
Wikipedia: Al D’Amato
Alfonse Marcello “Al” D’Amato (born August 1, 1937) is an American lawyer and former New York politician. A Republican, he served as United States Senator from New York from 1981 to 1999. He subsequently founded a lobbying firm, Park Strategies.
Since he left office in 1999, no other Republican from New York has served in the US Senate.
United States Senate
D’Amato drew the nickname Senator Pothole for his delivery of “constituent services,” helping citizens with their individual cases. While some New Yorkers meant the nickname as a pejorative, many others saw it as a positive affirmation of his attention to getting things done.
Wikipedia: Xavier Suárez
Xavier L. Suárez (born 1949 in Cuba) was the first Cuban-born mayor of Miami.
Suárez was first elected Mayor in 1985. He was re-elected in 1987 and again in 1989 for a four-year term. Suarez was highly regarded as Mayor of Miami. According to a March 30, 1993 article in The Miami Herald, “In 1989, [Suárez] won national admiration when he waded through hostile crowds in Overtown during civil disturbances to try to make peace.” Suarez cited the construction of 1,500 affordable homes as one of his “proudest achievements” during his tenure. He was also given the name “pothole Mayor” for his attention to City neighborhoods.
11 November 1976, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH), “People,” pg. 5-A, col. 2:
Utica, N.Y., Mayor Edward Hanna submitted his resignation saying he did not want to become a “pothole mayor” in a dying city.
12 October 1985, The Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY), “Campaign Notebook: Roy’s Keeping Tack of City Time vs. Campaign Time” by Mike Fish and Tom Foster, pg. b-3, col. 5:
All through the six mayoral debates and other public appearances Young has tried to project the image of a down-to-earth, hands-on type by promising to be a Pothole Mayor.
(Thomas Young, Democrat candidate for mayor of Syracuse, NY.—ed.)
18 September 1986, The Oregonian (Portland, OR), “Popular Cuomo expected to get record vote for second term” by Victoria Irwin (Christian Science Monitor), pg. A20, col. 5:
D’Amato’s strength has changed his image from “Senator Pothole to Senator Invincible,” says one political observer, referring to D’Amato’s penchant for attention to state issues.
6 August 1989, Augusta (GA) Chronicle, “A political comet soars over Miami” by Dan Sewell (AP), pg. 1D, col. 1:
MIAMI—Xavier Suarez gained national attention when he was elected as Miami’s first Cuban-born mayor. Around here he quickly gained a reputation as the “pothole mayor,” competent but dull in the land of “Miami Vice.”
New York (NY) Times
Political Memo; D’Amato, The Fighter, On Defensive
By LINDSEY GRUSON,
Published: July 8, 1991
WASHINGTON, July 7— It is a political adage: Bring home the bacon, and the voters will respond.
Alfonse M. D’Amato had built a career on that folk wisdom, billing himself as “a fighter for the forgotten middle class” as he campaigned for the Senate. Shortly after arriving here, he was called a Senator with the heart of a municipal official and nicknamed Senator Pothole.
Google News Archive
18 October 1992, Lawrence (KS) Journal-World, “New York is rotten apple in political basket” by George Will, pg. 5A, col. 4:
New York, once upon a time the nation’s cultural capital, has the most intellectual senator, Pat Moynihan, and the least, D’Amato, who is known as the Senate’s Bart Simpson—crude and proud of it. He is proudest of the nickname “Senator Pothole,” a tribute, so to speak, tp his manic miniaturization of politics. he has built a career on the principle that “no service is too small.” He serves anyone who will let him be useful. He is no fascist but he would get a fascist’s pothole filled (but only if the fascist were a registered voter or had relatives who were).
OCLC WorldCat record
Senator Pothole : the unauthorized biography of Al D’Amato
Author: Leonard Lurie
Publisher: Secaucus, N.J. : Carol Pub. Group, ©1994.
Edition/Format: Book : Biography : English
Senator Pothole: The Unauthorized Biography of Al D’Amato explains how and why the U.S. Senate’s most controversial member has become one of the country’s most important political figures, even though his name has been repeatedly associated with political scandal and his friends and personal associates so often end up in jail.
Google News Archive
4 September 1996, Rome (GA) News-Tribune, “Metro Miami voters narrow choices for strong mayor to two rising stars” (AP), pg. 8-A, col. 2:
(Xavier—ed.) Suarez, a Cuban-American born in Cuba who grew up in Washington, D.C., is an articulate, Harvard-educated pragmatist whose attention to city service details as mayor from 1985 to 1993 earned him the nickname “Mayor Pothole.”
29 March 2005, Newsday (Long Island, NY), “Mayor Pothole?— Bloomberg lays claim to title” by Bryan Virasami, pg. A3:
“Over the last 39 months, our administration has filled more than 600,000 potholes throughout the city,” [Michael Bloomberg] said yesterday in Glendale. “That’s roughly 40 percent more potholes than were filled during the previous three years.
Mayor for a New America
By Thomas M. Menino
New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
In office, I earned the nickname “Mayor Pothole” for photographing potholes, broken streetlights, and abandoned cars in my travels around the city and sending the pictures to the relevant departments and then following up.
WCVB5 (Boston, MA)
October 31, 2014: The Mayor’s Mayor
Bill Fine, President and General Manager WCVB-TV
UPDATED 1:15 PM EDT Oct 31, 2014
Thomas M. Menino was one of the longest-serving major city mayors in American history — a fact that he himself found rich in irony, often joking that it was the only job he ever wanted, and a job he never expected to have.
He wore the nickname, “Mayor Pothole” with pride; the embodiment of what he believed was Job One: taking care of the little things first.
New York City • Government/Law/Politics/Military • Friday, October 31, 2014 • Permalink