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By Scott Malone
BOSTON (Reuters) - Boston's first new mayor in 20 years, former state representative Martin Walsh, vowed on Monday to focus on cutting the city's violent-crime rates and improving its school system.
The former teacher addressed the challenges of two big appointments that he will make after being sworn in as Boston's 54th mayor - the city's next police commissioner and school superintendent.
"No parent should worry that a bullet will stop a daughter or son from coming home," said Walsh, who succeeds Thomas Menino, the longest-serving mayor in Boston's long history. "We must find a way to provide our families and our communities with the help they need when they need it."
Boston's last police commissioner, Ed Davis, who rose to national prominence for his calm leadership following the April 15 bombing attack at the Boston Marathon, stepped aside last year to make room for Menino's successor to pick a new leader.
There were 40 murders in New England's largest city last year, the lowest in a decade, but that figure was still "40 grieving mothers too many," Walsh said.
Walsh, whose campaign focused on education, said he aimed to close the so-called achievement gap between low- and high-income students by expanding pre-school offerings, and to boost career-focused and technical training available at the city's high schools.
"These things cost money - but we must find a way," he said at Boston College, his alma mater, adding that he would begin a review of the city's spending on schools to ensure "it is being spent most effectively and efficiently."
Walsh, a former alcoholic who overcame cancer as a child, said he would reform licensing laws to smooth the way for the opening of new businesses and review the services provided to seniors and disabled residents of city-owned housing units.
(Editing by Bernadette Baum)