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Governor’s Council – Democratic Primary Races

on Fri, 08/10/2012 - 9:51am

Along with the races for President, Congress, and the state legislature, there’s another state-level election this fall, which even seasoned activists often overlook but which can prove important: the Governor’s Council.

Because there are races – in both the Democratic primaries and in the general election – for several of the 8 seats on the Council, we want to provide you with some information about the position and the races.

Below you will find, first, a brief description of the responsibilities and composition of the Governor’s Council, and then, information about the candidates in some of the contested races.  We are inviting the candidates in Democratic primary races for Council seats to provide us with brief statements about their candidacies and will post those statements here as we receive them. 

As always, feel free to post any comments that you have about these races, including any recommendations for endorsements.  As with other races, decisions about any endorsements will be made by PDM’s sustaining members.

The Governor’s Council

The Governor’s Council is established, and its duties assigned, by the state constitution.  Perhaps its most important, and most controversial, duties are to confirm gubernatorial appointments of judges and certain other officials.  Before voting on judicial nominations, the Council solicits written information from the nominee and holds a public hearing at which the nominee is questioned and testimony is taken from other witnesses. 

Here is the description of the Council taken from its website:

“The Massachusetts Governor's Council, also known as the Executive Council, is composed of eight individuals elected from districts, and the Lieutenant Governor who serves ex officio. The eight councillors are elected from their respective districtsevery two years. The Council meets weekly to record advice and consent on warrants for the state treasury, pardons and commutations, and recording advice and consent to gubernatorial appointments such as judges, clerk-magistrates, public administrators, members of the Parole Board, Appellate Tax Board, Industrial Accident Boardand Industrial Accident Reviewing Board, notariesand justices of the peace.”


Each of the eight Council districts is made up of five state senate districts.  A map of the districts is here.  A town-by-town list of the composition of each district is at the link in the previous paragraph.

Update: We've added a page on the races for districts 1, 4, 5 and 6.

District 2

(including portions of Bristol, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth and Suffolk Counties):  There are two candidates in the Democratic primary for this seat, which became vacant upon the death of the incumbent:

Patrick McCabe

I am an unpaid court advocate, primarily trying to help parents see their children. I have worked to end the illegal practice of incarcerating people for being poor.  I am an accountant by trade, but I have also worked in human resources. I am a registered IAABO basketball official, Board 27. I am advocating for a Council that will create a public record through its proceedings so the people of Massachusetts may understand how and why lifetime appointments are approved.

I am using my candidacy to fund my website, to share the resumes of nominees, the giving history of nominees and the audio recordings of the hearings of nominees.

I hope to be able to share with the public all materials a Councilor uses in making their decision to approve a nominee. Lifetime appointments should start with a completely transparent process so the public knows who they are getting for these positions. I have attended  Council hearings and meetings for the past four years advocating openness, transparency and accountability.

I am also an advocate for our environment.  I have advocated for the revitalization of the Neponset River through removal of industrial toxins and removal/reconfiguration of the dams that have blocked fish runs for over 300 years.

I believe the function of vetting lifetime appointments to be one of utmost importance to our democracy, I oppose any attempt to take away this function by simply deleting the Governor’s Council without replacing it with another body to perform the same function.

Campaign website:


Bart Timilty

Campaign website:


Brian Clinton

Campaign website:


Rober Jubinville

Campaign website:


District 3 

(including portions of Middlesex, Norfolk, Suffolk, and Worcester Counties):  There are three candidates in the Democratic primary for this seat, including the incumbent:


Marilyn Pettito Devaney (incumbent)

I am proud of my record.  On SJC - voted first gay, first black Chief justice, first Asian. Looking back at endorsements-most proud  -from Stonewall Democrats

Examples of changes made on the Council:

  1. Stopped egregious long-time practice of Governor’s Councilors accepting political donations from nominees they were voting on – along with donations to sitting governors and lieutenant governors. (Successful petitioned former governors and present governor to include prohibition in their executive orders) When nominee violates this rule – I vote “NO”
  2. Changed makeup of Parole Board –They were ALL prosecutors (Investigated; found not in compliance with State Statute thirty years-since Governor Dukakis.)  (I changed it to diversity of professions to serve prison population from mental problems to learning disabilities)
  3. Have nominee/ witnesses sworn in at hearings
  4. Demanded Governor’s Councilors be provided copies (JNC) Judicial Nomination Commission questionnaire of “recommended nominee” who Councilor’s vote on (Previously: Councilors not allowed JNC questionnaire)
  5. Established transparent, informative governor’s council website for citizens; Council’s names, numbers, responsibilities, etc.-description of boards; terms; nominee, biography presented by Governor, hearing date, etc.

 Examples of working for you

  1. Absent –one hearing and meeting-(when my Husband died)
  2. Only councilor who meets with every nominee
  3. Provided one perk-travel expenses-do not accept=because people I represent do not get paid driving to work.
  4. Investigative including communicating with public, etc.-have found documented information requiring nominee to withdraw (and advise Governor)
  5. No rubber stamp-when I vote NO-respectfully give my reason and statement is placed in the nominee’s file.
  6. Hold Citizen Meetings and welcome calls (617)840-7689. 


Harry Margolis


As a progressive Democrat, I believe in the role of government in improving the lives of all Americans. The Governor’s Council in reviewing judicial nominations plays a significant part in ensuring fairness for us all.  Its reputation for bickering among members and irrelevant questioning of nominees, however, has brought disrepute on itself and added to public distrust in government.  We deserve better and can have better.

Since helping pioneer the field of elder law more than 25 years ago, I have worked with thousands of families as they have had to navigate our non-system of long-term care.  Every day I see how decisions by judges and other government officials affect the lives of Massachusetts citizens. 

This experience informs what I expect from judges.  They must be able to hear all sides of a dispute but able to make the tough decisions that permit parties to lawsuits to get on with their lives.

I have served successfully on several professional and charitable boards, as well as an elected Brookline Town Meeting Member and member of the Brookline Bicycle Advisory Committee.  I will bring my experience in these roles to working with other members of the Governor’s Council to improve how it functions.

Finally, as a father of 15-year-old twins, I want a government of which we can all be proud and that will serve them well for decades to come.  Working to improve the Governor’s Council will be one step in this direction.

Campaign website:


Charles Shapiro

I'm a husband of 22 years, father of two, a member of the Newton Democratic City Committee, Green Decade Coalition, the League of Women Voters, and I'm a progressive Democrat.  I fully support equal marriage rights and protecting a woman’s right to choose. (in contrast to the incumbent who was previously endorsed by Mass ProLife.)  

I'm a former Newton Alderman and am proud of my work on the Newton Silver Alert program to help keep those with Alzheimer's and other dementia safer which the  Governor Patrick used as a statewide model. It’s an honor to now be a candidate for Governor's Councilor.  

Those familiar with the Governor’s Council know it’s been riddled with personality conflicts, punitive and inappropriate questioning of nominees, and has fallen short of being a source of pride for voters. A Google search on the Governor's Council will provide useful information. I fully agree with those who believe change will benefit Massachusetts residents.  

I am well-grounded, reasonable, I'm not an attorney, I have no potential conflicts of interest, and I'll be objective when dealing with nominees.   

Together, we can increase transparency, elevate the level of civility, and treat all nominees with respect, dignity, and a true appreciation for their desire to serve.  

Please join me by hosting a coffee, telling your friends, or contributing to the campaign. Visit or or call 617-964-1098. Please vote "Shapiro" on Sept 6th and together we can make the Governor’s Council something we can all be proud of.  Thank you. 

Campaign website:

(Posted for Peter Enrich)

(Updated Aug 13 with statement from Harry Margolis.)

(Updated Aug 16 with link to new blog entry on other races.)





mcombs's picture

In Patrick McCabe's statement, he masks his true agenda: father's rights. He has been a major player in The Fatherhood Coalition, a group that seeks to undermine abuse prevention and child support laws in Massachusetts.   Here is a link to a questionnaire that he sent to Judge Duffly just before her hearing at the Governor's Council. (She ultimately became a member of the SJC).
A check of the white pages reveals that an address listed for "The Fatherhood Coalition" is Patrick McCabe's address. It is hypocritical of him to advocate for the transparency of judicial nominees while waging his own stealth campaign.
I was a member of the MA Child Support Guidelines Commission in the 1980's and had unpleasant dealings with Mr. McCabe's predecessors.
(Posted for Mary Haskell)

PEnrich's picture

Last night (Aug. 21), the Lexington Democratic Town Committee hosted a forum for the District 3 candidates.  At that forum, Councilor Devaney listed Sen. Ken Donnelly of Arlington as one of her endorsers.  Another of the candidates questioned her claim.  So, this morning I contacted a spokesperson for Sen. Donnelly's campaign (the Senator is on vacation), who asked me to report that Sen. Donnelly has not endorsed Councilor Devaney, and does not plan to endorse anyone in the primary.

I thought that this was important information for people to have as they decide whom to support in this election.  I would hope that we could expect a higher degree of integrity than this from someone who seeks to represent us on the Governor's Council.

Alice Pierce's picture

I saw all three candidates for Governor's Council at a debate last night, and as a result Charlie Shapiro has my vote for this important office.  It's clear that it is time for a change, and Charlie will make his decisions based on respect for each nominee and appreciation for their desire to serve the public, but at the same time he will employ careful consideration of each candidate's qualifications.  He will work collaboratively with ohther members of the Council and think independently.

PEnrich's picture

Posted on behalf of Alice M. Pierce of Lexington:

After listening to all of the District 3 candidates at the Lexington Democratic Town Committee's forum and after reviewing each of their materials, I plan to vote for Charlie Shapiro and encourage others to do so as well.  Shapiro was extremely well spoken and thoughtful at the forum.  He has strong progressive values and a convincing sense of how to represent us effectively on the Governor's Council.  I am convinced that he represents the best chance to restore somevadly needed credibility and civility to the Council.

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