This first question most people have is – what exactly is the Governor’s Council? Its most important function is to confirm judges. It’s really the only place where the public has a voice in the process. Some people argue that it’s an outdated institution that should be abolished. We disagree. The people should have a say in these lifetime appointments.
Sadly the Governor’s Council is a rubber stamp for the governor. Out of 23 nominations, all 23 were appointed. Only a few Incumbent Councillors are independent – Marilyn Devaney and Mary Ellen Manning.
This is going to be an interesting year for Governor’s Council because this year we have threeÂ CouncillorsÂ retiring: Carole Fiola, Michael J. Callahan and Thomas J. Foley. Governor’s Council is an obscure position, it doesn’t pay much, $26,000, and it’s nearly impossible to unseat an incumbentÂ Councillor.
There are only 8 districts, each being much larger than even a Senate district. So, running a campaign is notoriously hard. Last year 7 of 8 districts had challengers and all 8 incumbents were re-elected, including Kelly A. Timilty, who was accused of forging an endorsement from Gov. Deval L. Patrick on the eve of the primary. Because the districts are so large, either you have to have name recognition already, or you have to spend a fortune on advertising. Of the current 8 Councillors, three are from politically connected families with strong name recognition ( Timilty, Iannella, and Fiola ).
Here is a list of the incumbents, and candidates I know about. If the incumbent is not running, I list the seat as “open”:
- 1st – Carole A Fiola (D) (open)
- 2nd – Kelly A Timilty
- Robert Jubinville (D)
- Steven Glovsky(R)
- 3rd – Marilyn M Petito Devaney (D)
- Nick Ianuzzi (I)
- George Berbeco
- 4th – Christopher A. Iannella (D)
- Ron Ross (R)
- Stephen Flynn (D)
- Jacquolyn Payne Thompson (I)
- 5th – Mary-Ellen Manning (D)
- Jason A Panos (D)
- Mike Walsh (R)
- Vicki Bruno (I)
- 6th – Michael J. Callahan (D) (open),
- 7th – Thomas J. Foley (D) (open),
- Francis J. Ford (D)
- Jen Caissie (R)
- David Nault (I)
- 8th – Thomas Merrigan (D)
- Mike Franco (R)
Carole A. Fiola, a ten term incumbent and wife ofÂ Kenneth Fiola Jr., executive vice president of the Fall River Office of Economic Development, has decided not to seek re-election. The first District has a huge number of candidates and the race is quite complex.
There are two Republican candidates. Cipollini and Ureneck. Cipollini got into the race late. It is a little confusing as he is the brother of one of the leading Democratic candidates, the other Oliver Cipollini. We wonder if he is a legitimate Republican candidate. If both Cipollini’s win, we wonder if the Republican brother won’t withdraw and simply hand over the Governor’s Council seat to the Democratic brother.
Joe Ureneck is something of an expert on Governor’s Council. He has been going to Governor’s Council meetings for years, taping them and commenting online about their deliberations. He has been instrumental in helping to make Governor’s Council more accountable and not just a rubber stamp for the Governor. We strongly recommend Ureneck for the Republican primary. He have an interview with Ureneck.
There are five Democractic candidates for the office, Cipollini, Moniz, Gregory, Mosca, and Hallahan.
Cipollini ran against Fiola last term and lost 63% to 37%. He’s a retired clerk magistrate and a systems manager. He’s got a new updated web site which presents him much better, and his message is right on target, calling out his opposition to being just a “rubber stamp” and willingness to be available to constituents. Last time he managed to get almost 40% of the vote, which is no small feat with a district this large. He has the added benefit of coming into the race with some name recognition.
Walter Moniz is a New Bedford businessman and aide to former New Bedford Mayor, Frederick J. Kalisz Jr. He’s pretty well integrated into the Azorean Portuguese community down in the Fall River area and has a lot of support from them. His campaign looks pretty slick.
Jeffrey Gregory is a 22-year veteran of the Fall River police department and touts his experience in law enforcement to inform his decisions.
Patricia Mosca is Â a retired probation officer and a member of the Cape and Islands Democratic Council. She says her experience dealing with judges as a probation officer as helps her to understand what makes a good judge. She has written us a detailed letter about her background and her reasons for running.
Tom Hallahan is an associate professor at Salem State University teaching social justice and inclusive education and a member of the Dukes County Commission, the 7 person legislative body of Martha’s Vineyard. Â He has been involved with a number of non-profit boards both locally and nationally, particularly those concerned with issues of equity and fairness, in regards to education and health care.
I wasn’t able to find any information Â John McCaul.
Paul Viveiros has run unsuccessfully for Fall River City Council and Mayor, and for Governor’s Council in the past. He’s known down in Fall River for creating a controversial display out of toilets as a protest.
As of right now the two leading candidates seem to be Cipollini and Moniz.
Neither has reported having much campaign money – at $1000 each as of last month. Cipollini has more name recognition – so it’s going to be up to Moniz to make up the difference. The other candidates are yet to file.
Kelly A Timilty is a multi term incumbent and a public disgrace. Unfortunately it looks like she will run again – over the strong public objections by her own party. There is even aÂ petition for her not to run.
She has never taken the position seriously. During the last election she actually forged Deval Patrick’s name on a fraudulent endorsement and was fined $8000. She was fined $1000 more dollars for not filing campaign finance forms.
Councillors get paid $26,000 for working one morning a week – but Timilty usually doesn’t do even that. I’ve personally been to several of these meetings. She’s usually not there. Lawyers Weekly has called her attendance record “embarassing.”
Why does she even have this job? Simple – she’sÂ Senator James E. Timilty’s sister and daughter of Joseph Timilty, a former state senator and Boston City Councilor. Her cousin Walter Timilty is a State Representative. She got in on name recognition and political connections.
There is however a guy who really wants the job, attorney Robert Jubinville. He ran against Timilty last time losing by a margin of 2-1. He reportedly spent about $100,000 of his own money to do it – buying a lot of advertising. He’s back to try again.
I’ve heard good things about Jubinville. He takes the position seriously and supports efforts to reform the governor’s council.
There is also a Republican running, Steven Glovsky.
He spoke recently at a Republican Committee meeting in Holliston and said he doesn’t plan on spending much money in the campaign. With a district so large, and with no money its going to be nearly impossible to get much exposure. It doesn’t seem like a serious candidacy.
One thing is for sure – Timilty has got to go.
The 3rd District is represented by Marilyn M Petito Devaney. I don’t know of anyone running against her. She’s a Watertown City Councillor and apparently pretty entertaining. There is a You Tube gallery of her outbursts against various public officials. There is also the “curling iron incident“.
She’s known as one of the more outspoken members of the Governor’s Council and one of the few who is not a rubber stamp for the governor. She also has a pretty good attendance record.
Two other candidates have registered, Nick Ianuzzi and George Berbeco, but I can’t find any more information on them.
Represented by Christopher Iannella Jr.,Â the son of the late Christopher Iannella, a longtime Boston City Councilor and a State Representative. His brother, Richard, is Suffolk County Register of Probate and a former Boston City Councilor. He’s an ambulance chaser – err – personal injury attorney. He’s generally a rubber stamp for the governor.
Stephen Flynn and Jacquolyn Payne Thompson have both run for Governor’s Council before. I can find no information on Ross.
Mary Ellen Manning represents the 5th District. She’s one of the better members. There have been a number of shady appointments over the years where she has been the only voice against them.
Sometimes it seems that Governors give judgeships to loyal elected officials as a reward for loyalty. A judgeship has a high salary, and an elected official can retire with a very fat pension if they sit on the bench for a few years.
Howie Carr has a pretty funny piece on the appointment of James Barretto:
Barretto got his Brookline District Court judgeship last week the old-fashioned way – over the past three years he gave $9,550 to politicians.
The only one to vote against Barretto was Manning. In another case, Sen. Cheryl Jacques was rewarded 6 year term to the Industrial Accidents Board. It carries an annual salary of $107,000, putting Jacque past the 20 years of state service necessary to collect a full pension. Manning was the only one to object.
â€œThere are lawyers with twenty years of experience in this field who got passed over,â€ Manning said.
Manning is a practicing divorce lawyer by trade. Her web site has a number of public rants about the shenanigans that happen in the GC. Definitely juicy reading.
Running against her is Jason A. Panos. He has been working to reform the Governor’s Council. He helped draft S1457 currently before the legislature. This bill would make the Governor’s Council more accountable to the people by requiring that the council keep a web site where they post their votes and their findings. It would additionally require that the council make a public annual report about their proceedings. Its the kind of openness legislation which would help avoid the worst excesses we’ve seen in judicial appointments over recent years.
I wish he were running against someone other than Manning. She has been one of the few responsible and independent Â voices on the council – especially when some of the other members are so bad.
Neither Manning or Panos has much campaign cash. These districts are very hard to take away from an incumbent and generally require a lot of cash. It will be difficult for Panos to unseat Manning.
Without knowing more about the two of them its hard to know who I like better – but at least in this seat there appear to be two good candidates.
Michael J Callahan represents the 6th, and has decided not to seek re-election. Winchester lawyer John Gosselin has announced he will run. He’s serious about claiming this seat, having put in $100,000 of his own money into the campaign. He seems committed to reforming Governor’s council:
Atty Jubinville and I have discussed how we might work together to improve the professionalism and public access to this position.
This is the right message. I look forward to hearing exactly what kinds of reforms they propose.
If no one else enters the race – Â it’s his for the taking – and in all likelihood, if he wants, he stays for life. The 6th District starts in liberal Arlington, but rises quickly to northern districts that went heavily for Brown. I think it’s likely we will see some Republican or independent entrants in the coming weeks.
Thomas J. Foley has decided to run for Worcester County Sheriff, leaving this seat open.
Francis Ford, a lawyer, announced last year that he will run. He has got endorsements from Martha Coakley and the rest of the politicalÂ establishment.Â He has an interview here.
Also running is an attorney from Southbridge and a long time selectwoman from Oxford. Â She’s running as a reform candidate. She calls out on her web site that she won’t allow any “pay to play politics”, an that she would move to have the meetings recorded and made available on the internet.
This would be a great improvement over what we have now, and would cut down on some of the unethical stories we hear currently. It will be interesting to see if Ford comes out with a similar reform message.
Geographically this is the largest district, and the hardest one to unseat an incumbent.
Former Judge Thomas Merrigan is running for re-election. He’s another one of the rubber stamps.
Mike Franco, an activist for judicial reform, is running again this year. Franco is a 23 year military veteran.
In 2008 Franco lost against Merrigan 30% to 70%. It’s a tough job, but maybe Franco will do better this year.
Updated: Rewrote the part about Cipollini, he’s got a new web site which focuses his message much better.
Updated: Jason Panos web site link, and more commentary about Panos.
Updated: More candidates, more information from Gosselin
Updated: More information from Patricia Mosca
Updated: More infomration from Jacquolyn Payne Thompson