NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

October 23, 2012

A race for little-known board

Two women vie for Governor's Council seat

You might not know anything about two candidates on the Nov. 6 ballot, Eileen Duff and Maura Ciardiello, let alone the office of Governor’s Council that they’re campaigning for.

But both women are working hard to change that, and hopefully get elected to the statewide council.

“I tell my friends I’m running for Governor’s Council and they say, ‘Oh, that’s great. .... What’s that?’” Duff said. “I say it’s the most important thing you’ve never heard of.”

The eight-member Governor’s Council has the responsibility of vetting and confirming the governor’s appointment of judges and other judiciary officials. It also acts on issues such as payments from the state treasury and criminal pardons and commutations.

The council meets briefly each Wednesday at the Statehouse. Members are paid $26,025 a year and receive health insurance benefits, travel expenses, a Beacon Hill parking space and creditable service toward a state pension.

Duff, a Democrat, and Ciardiello, a Republican, have a stunning amount in common aside from their gender. Both come from political families — Duff’s father, Paul Duff, served on the Peabody City Council and once ran for mayor. Ciardiello’s father, William Ryan, is the former mayor of Haverhill and a current city councilor.

Neither candidate is a lawyer or has a legal background. Neither has run for public office before. Both have attended Cambridge College. Both are eager to serve.

This year’s election is particularly interesting because there is an open seat on the council for the first time in more than a decade. Current councilor Mary-Ellen Manning stepped down to run an ultimately unsuccessful state Senate campaign this fall.

The 5th District has also changed dramatically since the 2010 election. Each of the eight Governor’s Council districts is composed of five contiguous Massachusetts Senate districts. After the 2010 census, the Legislature changed the 5th Governor’s Council District by cutting out the 3rd Essex Senatorial District (Lynn, Lynnfield, Marblehead, Nahant, Saugus, Swampscott) and adding instead the 1st Middlesex Senatorial District (Dunstable, Groton, Lowell, Pepperell, Tyngsborough, Westford).

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