County Commissioner Francis O’Brien Not Seeking Re-Election

Francis W. O’Brien, chairman of the Norfolk County Commissioners, announced Jan. 29 that he will not be seeking another term serving Norfolk County as one of its three county commissioners.

Norfolk County Commissioner Francis O’Brien is not seeking re-election this fall. Courtesy Photo

Addressing a crowded room filled with his family, Norfolk County elected officials and county department heads, O’Brien announced his decision to not seek re-election later this year and reflected on his lifetime of public service with gratitude.

“It’s been one of the greatest honors of my life to serve my hometown of Dedham and the communities of Norfolk County,” O’Brien said. “I’m very proud of our investments at the Norfolk County Agricultural High School, in our courthouses, and in all the County programs and services relied upon by Norfolk County residents and communities. Public service is about helping people, and I’ve always believed in doing just that.”

Voters will elect two Norfolk County commissioners this fall, with one of the seats now being vacated by O’Brien. The other seat on the ballot this fall is held by current commissioner and former Quincy city clerk Joseph Shea. Shea, a Quincy resident, is seeking re-election this fall. The other seat is held by Milton Democrat Peter Collins. Collins is not up for re-election this fall.

County commissioners must be from separate municipalities in Norfolk County, meaning two (or three) commissioners cannot hail from the same city or town. So, if a Quincy resident were to run for county commissioner this fall, he or she would be running against Shea, not for the open seat being vacated by O’Brien.

A lifelong Dedham resident, O’Brien was appointed as a Norfolk County commissioner in 2002. He was elected to his first four-year term in 2004 and re-elected in 2008, 2012 and 2016.

Earlier this month he was unanimously elected by his colleagues to chair the county’s elected executive body for his 12th consecutive one-year term.

Shea noted that he first met O’Brien more than 40 years ago when they worked together for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA).

“Fran O’Brien is a great colleague, a true gentleman and a class act,” added Shea. “His lifetime of public service, as we know now through his work as a county commissioner, has always been about helping the little guy, and I’m going to miss working with him.”

“Commissioner O’Brien has been a friend and role model since I was first elected,” said State Rep. Paul McMurtry (D-Dedham), “He exemplifies the true meaning of a public servant with his more than 60 years of service to our town, county and Commonwealth. He leaves a legacy of making a difference and always helping those in need. I wish him continued happiness in his retirement.”

Norfolk County Clerk of Courts Walter Timilty described O’Brien as a “lifelong friend and partner in public service who always keeps his focus on helping those most in need in his communities.”

Timilty added that he looks forward to continue working with O’Brien as the commissioner serves out the remainder of his term.

A graduate of Dedham High School (’49) and a United States Navy veteran, O’Brien was a Dedham firefighter for 12 years.  He later served as legislative liaison for the MBTA for 23 years. O’Brien served as a member of the Dedham Board of Selectmen for 13 years, including 6 as chairman. He has also served as a member of the Dedham Charter Commission and the Board of Assessors.

O’Brien says that one of his greatest honors was having the Selectmen’s Hearing/Meeting Room at Dedham Town Hall dedicated in his name in 2002.  He remains a fixture in the Dedham community as a member of the Dedham High School Sports Hall of Fame and as a strong supporter of youth and adult sports in the community. He is active in Dedham High School and Pop Warner football, Dedham Youth Hockey, Dedham Little League, and the Dedham Men’s Softball League.

 

O’Brien is also a lifetime member of American Legion Post 18 and Lodge 10 of the Boston Elks.

 

His term as a Norfolk County Commissioner expires in early January 2021.

Noel DiBona Democratic Candidate For Register Of Probate

City Councillor-at-Large Noel DiBona officially announces his candidacy for Register of Probate of Norfolk County.

Noel DiBona

DiBona, who began his political career in 2013 as a Quincy School Committee member, has served as a Quincy city councillor-at-large since 2016, and has been elected to three consecutive terms.  If elected as the Register of Probate, DiBona said he will continue to serve in his councilor-at-large seat and complete the remainder of his current two-year term.

DiBona has been a small business owner in Quincy for the last 24 years, managing Russ DiBona & Son Landscape & Snow.  DiBona graduated from Quincy High School in 1993, and holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology and business administration from the University of Massachusetts-Boston.

DiBona has been employed by the Norfolk County Sheriff’s office since 2016, where he currently serves as re-entry program coordinator for inmates.  DiBona previously served as a senior community services coordinator for the Sheriff’s office, assisting senior citizens in scam and fraud prevention at facilities for the elderly throughout Norfolk County.  If elected as the Register of the Probate, DiBona said he plans to improve all services provided by the court, and pledges to be a consistent strong advocate for attorneys, judges, clients, and citizens.

“I am seeking the seat as the Register of Probate of Norfolk County because I have a strong desire to serve and assist others.  Virtually everyone will encounter an experience with probate, whether it is a birth, a death, or divorce.  Your experience with the court should be managed with compassion and empathy.  I will apply my business management background to the official record keeping and customer service areas of the court to ensure that the public always has the best experience possible, especially during tough times,”  DiBona said.

“The decision to run for Norfolk County Register of Probate has been a family decision.  Following discussions with my wife, Niamh, and other family members we collaboratively decided that I should seek the seat and they are all 100% behind the decision,” DiBona added.

DiBona will be running as a Democrat.  The primary election is set for Tuesday, Sept. 1st and if successful in the primary, the final election will be on Nov. 3rd.

The Committee to Elect Noel DiBona will be holding a campaign kickoff event at Alba Restaurant at 1486 Hancock St. in Quincy Center on Thursday, Feb. 27th from 5 to 8 p.m. Members of the public are encouraged to attend.

Register Of Probate Patrick McDermott Candidate For Norfolk County Sheriff

Patrick McDermott officially launched his campaign for Norfolk County Sheriff Nov. 13 at the Quincy of Sons of Italy.  McDermott, who has served as Norfolk County Register of Probate since 2003, was also presented with an endorsement from the County Corrections Officers Association (CCOA), the union representing the  Non-Supervisory Corrections Officers at the county jail, that evening.

Patrick McDermott

“I am running to be your Sheriff because I believe that public safety begins in the community, and that the Sheriff’s office can play a greater role in supporting local law enforcement efforts throughout Norfolk County,” said McDermott, a Quincy Democrat.  “We need to better address the issues, like addiction, homelessness and education, to stop the cycle before people end up serving time in the county system. And if they are incarcerated, we must have the innovative treatment programs in place so that once they have served their time, they have the tools and resources to re-enter our communities and stay out of trouble,” said McDermott as he address his family and friends; adding, “For those who have committed a crime, it is important that the county jail run effectively, efficiently, allowing prisoners to serve their sentences while keeping the surrounding communities and the employees of the jail safe.”

McDermott added, “As an attorney and Norfolk County Register of Probate for the past 16 years, I believe I bring a unique combination of legal and public service experience, as well as a knowledge of Norfolk County. That experience will allow me to bring a level of expertise to effectively expand the role of the Sheriff’s office in order to institute better community prevention programs to keep people out of jail, reduce recidivism and ensure those who have been convicted serve their time.”

Just before making his official announcement, McDermott was presented with a letter of endorsement from the CCOA.   In their letter, Gerald DeAngelis, the Chairman of CCOA/NEPBA 575 stated, “Your vision on security and public safety within the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office and the Correctional Facilities has given us great assurance in your ability to lead us forward.  We believe your election to become the next Sheriff of Norfolk County will guide us in the right direction. We are confident that with your leadership and proven success; you have the ability and promise to succeed as our Sheriff.”

For more information, visit www.PatrickMcDermott.org

Former Mayor William Phelan Candidate For Norfolk County Sheriff

Former Quincy mayor Bill Phelan announced Jan. 15 that he has joined the race for Norfolk County Sheriff.

William Phelan

In his announcement, Phelan discussed his excitement to travel across the county to personally speak with voters. Phelan also highlighted the need to address recidivism, the opioid crisis and addiction treatment, inmate wellbeing, and top-notch training for corrections officers.

“My career in public service has been about helping people, that’s why I’m running for sheriff. My campaign is focused on bringing practical reforms to our county’s criminal justice system,” Phelan said. “When we alleviate the causes of recidivism, we give the people in our care a chance to flourish upon reentry while also keeping our community safe.”

Phelan served three terms as mayor of Quincy — from 2002 to 2008 — and was on the school committee for two years before that. As mayor, Phelan implemented a nationally recognized 10-year plan to end homelessness. Phelan also kept taxes low while significantly raising teacher salaries, instituting city-wide full-day kindergarten, and reducing class sizes, he stated in his campaign announcement.

Phelan, a Quincy Democrat, will hold his campaign launch party at the Neighborhood Club of Quincy, 27 Glendale Rd, Quincy., on Jan. 30th at 6 p.m. The event is free and open to the press and public.

6th Annual ‘Polar Plunge’ Benefits Atherton Hough School PTO

The sixth annual Houghs Neck “Polar Plunge” was held Jan. 4th at the public landing as 30 brave souls took a quick dip in 46-degree water for a good cause.

Proceeds from the annual event benefit the Atherton Hough Elementary School PTO.

The group of participants included children, senior citizens, community and school activists and city councillors Noel DiBona and Brad Croall.

Rain that was in the forecast held off until after the hearty plungers splashed in the water behind the Houghs Neck Maritime Center shortly after 10 a.m. under the watchful eye of the Quincy Police Dive Team.

Here are a few photos from Saturday’s plunge. More coverage in the Jan. 16th issue of The Quincy Sun. Quincy Sun Photos/Robert Bosworth.

Schools Could Test Composting Program

By SCOTT JACKSON

A pilot initiative to measure the effectiveness of a municipal composting programming in Quincy could begin in one of the city’s eleven elementary schools.

John Sullivan, a member of the task force that has studied the feasibility of bringing a municipal composting program to the city for the past seven months, said the initiative would be a “win-win” because it would cut emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, and potentially save the city money.

“If we break even, it’s a no-brainer,” Sullivan, who oversees the waste management program for the Department of Public Works, said in a phone interview.

“I’m looking forward to it.”

The task force has been meeting with various vendors who would help run the program, he said. Members have also visited schools in Cambridge, a community that runs a municipal composting program.

“Right now, we are just talking to people in the industry and getting numbers together to make sure it works,” Sullivan said. “We’re simply talking to vendors in the business and trying to get as much information as possible.”

There is no timeline yet for when the pilot program could begin, he stated. It would likely begin in one of the elementary schools because those students would learn about composting at a young age, Sullivan explained. Volunteers would be needed at the school to help students sort food waste from other trash in the cafeteria.

After the pilot program in the school, the initiative would likely be tested in a section of the city, Sullivan said; the goal would be to see if the composting program would be feasible.

“We will be able to tell if it is a serviceable model,” he said.

Cambridge began its municipal composting program in 2014, collecting food waste and other compostable material from 600 residences in the North Cambridge area. In the first year of its citywide program, 2018, Cambridge collected 1,800 tons of food scraps and reduced trash collected by 8 percent.

Cambridge sends it food waste and other compostable materials to a Charlestown facility where it is screened and blended into a slurry. The mixture is then placed in an anaerobic digester that breaks down the material into fertilizer. The methane released during the process is captured and burned for energy instead of being released into the atmosphere, which can happen when food waste is left to rot in a landfill.