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Garballey launches campaign for Donnelly seat

GarballeyGarballey

Ken Donnelly, in 2007Donnelly

UPDATED, May 9: Special elections are set for this summer to fill the 4th Middlesex District Senate seat held by Kenneth J. Donnelly, and Rep. Sean Garballey, in office since 2008, said April 18 he is running. 

The state Senate adopted an order for an election Tuesday, July 25, to elect a successor to Donnelly, the Arlington Democrat who died April 2 from the effects of brain cancer. The Senate also ordered party primaries to held Tuesday, June 27, Senate President Stan Rosenberg told reporters Thursday, April 12. 

Those who names have surfaced as possible candidates are two other Democrats -- Cindy Friedman, Donnelly's chief of staff since 2009 who told YourArlington she is "very seriously exploring and leaning toward running"; and Jim DiTullio, Rosenberg's chief policy adviser, says he will support Friedman if she runs.

Garballey and DiTullio are Arlington residents. Friedman used to live in town, moved to Cambridge, but says she will return to Arlington "soon." To win the seat, a candidate must live in the district.

Potential GOP candidate

On the Republican side, Billerica Rep. Marc Lombardo awareported to have been urged to run.

Lombardo wrote April 13: "I've been flattered by those urging me to run. At this point, I need to speak with my trusted advisers and my family to determine if a Senate run makes sense."

Lombardo, 34, has served in the House since 2011 and previously served on the Billerica Board of Selectmen.

Garballey makes formal announcement

Garballey told the State House News Service that he would announce his decision on Tuesday, April 18, and he did. His comments were first posted to the Arlington Email List, just after noon that day, but followed with a lengthier, formal statement two days later:

Garballey's office issued a formal announcement Thursday, April 20:

"For those of us lucky enough to have called Senator Ken Donnelly a friend," Garballey wrote in a statement, "this has been a sad time. Ken put everyone else first -- as a fireman, a legislator, and a husband, father, and grandfather -- and we in Massachusetts are forever indebted to him for his lifetime of service and sacrifice. He gave us his all, and no one will fill the space he left in his passage. My thoughts continually turn to Ken's family, and I pray that they find solace and strength in the fact that his legacy lives on in the innumerable lives he touched and enriched."

The state senator and the representative were close friends and allies at the State House, the statement said: "Senator Donnelly and I were partners throughout the last decade and I want to make sure his work continues in the State Senate. I am the most prepared to continue his legacy in the state Senate."

An Arlington native, Garballey was elected to the School Committee and served until he was elected state representative in March 2008. One of the youngest members of the legislature when he was elected nine years ago, he quickly became a leader focusing on issues such as public transportation, education, public higher education, renewable energy, supporting the most vulnerable constituents in Massachusetts and advancing policies aimed at strengthening the middle class.

"I'm most proud of the work that might not be glamorous, but makes a real difference in people’s lives," explained Garballey.

The statement said he led the fight requiring health insurance companies to provide insurance coverage for hearing aids for low-income children, passed the social worker safety act, filed and passed legislation that increased state funding for public higher education, worked to improve the foster-care system in Massachusetts, and led the effort to increase the minimum wage in Massachusetts.

"I know the impact that you can have as a legislator when you care enough to have an impact and, for me, the priority has always been the most vulnerable in our communities who need help and the opportunities that can come from good public policy."

Garballey said that he won his first election by meeting with people and listening, and that's how he intends to campaign for state Senate.

"When people know that you care enough to go into their communities and listen to them, it not only generates support for the campaign but also forms the kind of relationships necessary to be effective as their voice on Beacon Hill. It's been an honor to serve Arlington as state representative, and I will travel the district and make my case to be elected to the state Senate one voter at a time," he said in the statement.

The Democratic primary has been scheduled for June 27, so Garballey begins the race on familiar ground. While the district spreads into Billerica, Burlington, Lexington and Woburn, Arlington has accounted for a big part of the voters in recent Democratic primaries.

However, Garballey has worked with elected officials throughout the district as state representative. With nine years of experience working with bordering communities, his statement says he knows the district well.

"Ken was a strong progressive voice for every person in the district," Garballey said. "That's the kind of leader I've been in the House, and I plan to campaign across every neighborhood in the district and offer that same progressive leadership."

Garballey, 32, has represented the 23rd Middlesex in the House since 2008 and previously served on the Arlington School Committee.

Staff chief updates, clarifies statement

She updated and clarified a statement she gave April 13 to the State House News Service:

cfriedman 90

"Since the death of Senator Ken Donnelly, I have been inundated with questions as to whether I would myself consider running to fill the senate seat he so ably occupied over almost a decade.

"Amongst those posing these questions to me were some of Ken’s closest personal friends and family members, and others who were very aware of the close working relationship and deep friendship we shared since his election nine years ago.

"As the outpouring of love and affection for Ken proved, the senator touched many lives and demonstrated that doing good work matters far more than we often imagine.

"Because of the rawness and personal impact of this loss, the idea of jumping so quickly into a contest to replace Ken is daunting.

"On the other hand, because of my intense commitment both to the senator as well as to the work he allowed me to participate in shaping, the idea of working to complete his legacy and ultimately fulfill our shared vision and values, is something I feel I should seriously consider.

"Over the next week I will seek out the advice and counsel of people who live in the district and knew Ken well, as well as many others whose lives Ken touched in his capacity as an elected representative of the people, to determine if this contest is one in which I should ultimately compete.

"Whatever my decision, I am honored beyond measure to have even been considered by so many to be worthy of following in the footsteps of a man who led so well and who cared so deeply."

Asked directly about her candidacy, Friedman told YourArlington April 16: "I am very seriously exploring and leaning toward running. I've gotten lots of encouragement."

As to her residency, she clarified: "We will very soon be town residents again. We lived there for 35 years, it's a community I have been deeply involved in even during my short hiatus away and we're looking forward to coming back."'

DiTullio statement

In a statement Monday, April 17, to YourArlington, DiTullio wrote:

"I have been honored by the calls I've received from many people urging me to consider running for the Fourth Middlesex Senate seat. I have been seriously exploring a campaign for the seat, but I have been clear from the start that if Cindy Friedman runs for the Senate seat, I would support her candidacy.

"As one of Cindy's colleagues in the Senate, I know that she would be a natural successor to her political partner and friend, Senator Ken Donnelly. Although I am considering the race, I would be proud to support Cindy if she decides to run."

DiTullio added that, because he works for Rosenberg, the potential candidate's comments are his own.

DiTullio served as undersecretary of education under Gov. Deval Patrick before joining Rosenberg’s office. He is a Yale University graduate with a law degree from the University of Virginia.

Facebook comments

Meanwhile, on Facebook sites April 15, before any potential candidate had issued a statement, Garballey drew support from Paul Schlichtman, School Committee member, and Friedman received backing from Clarissa Rowe, the former selectmen.

Also supporting Friedman, based on Facebook posts April 14, are Selectmen Dan Dunn and Steve Byrne. Selectman Diane Mahon is expected to support Garballey.

A minimum of 300 certified signatures are required for nominees. The deadline for submitting nomination papers to local registrars of voters or election commissioners for certification is 4 p.m. Tuesday, May 16. The deadline for filing certified nomination papers with the secretary of the Commonwealth is May Tuesday, 23.

Nomination papers will be available at the city and town halls of the communities in the district and at the Elections Division, Room 1705, McCormack State Office Building, One Ashburnham Place, Boston. For further information, call the Elections Division at 1-800-462-VOTE.

The 4th Middlesex Senate District encompasses the Towns of Arlington, Billerica, Burlington; precincts 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 in the Town of Lexington; and the City of Woburn, all in Middlesex County.

For state elections, polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.


April 8, 2017: 200 firefighters honor Donnelly at Town Hall before wake


This news summary was published Thursday, April 13, 2017. It was updated numerous times.

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