Feeney says she won’t seek ninth term on City Council

By Andrew Ryan
Globe Staff / April 20, 2011

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Boston Councilor Maureen E. Feeney will announce today that she will not seek reelection this fall after representing her native Dorchester for the last 17 years.

Feeney, 63, plans to send a letter to close friends and supporters telling them that, “after much thought and deliberation . . . the time has come for me to pursue new challenges.’’

“I come to this decision with a heavy heart,’’ Feeney wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Globe.

Born in Savin Hill and raised in the Franklin Field housing project, Feeney first won the District 3 seat in 1993 when it was vacated by her boss, Councilor James E. Byrne. Feeney rose to City Council president in 2007 and kept the job for two years, making her the longest serving woman to hold the leadership post.

“I think she was a diligent public servant who did the best she could for the residents of her district,’’ said council President Stephen J. Murphy. “I’ll miss her — the person, not just the politician.’’

Feeney’s announcement has been widely expected at City Hall, where today is the first day that City Council candidates can apply for nomination papers for the fall election. According to her most recent filing with the state Office of Campaign & Political Finance, Feeney had only $7,600 in her campaign account as of March 31, far less than most of her colleagues on the council.

Feeney has long been considered to be the next in line for the job of city clerk, a post appointed by the council and often filled with its former members. The last three clerks have all been former councilors, including the current one, Rosaria Salerno, who has held the position since 1995.

But in February 2010 when Salerno was up for reappointment to another three-year term as clerk, the council took no action. Salerno, who is 75 and recently returned from medical leave, remains in the job but does not have a defined term. She could not be reached yesterday for comment.

Feeney said yesterday that she plans to remain in office through the end of her eighth term, which ends Dec. 31. She declined to speculate about the clerk’s job or about her next move. In the letter, she asked constituents for “the opportunity to weigh my options.’’

“Right now there is a city clerk,’’ Feeney said in a telephone interview. “We’ll see what happens. I just want to step back and take a deep breath and see what comes next . . . I don’t want to say I’m going to do one thing or another.’’

For the City Council to appoint Feeney as the next clerk, she must have been off the council for a minimum of 30 days, according to state ethics law.

Feeney remained focused yesterday on her choice not to run again.

“This was a very big decision and I didn’t come to it lightly. I hope people will understand that,’’ she said. “I want to say, ‘Thank you.’ To everyone, from my colleagues on the council, to the mayor, to my constituents.’’

Andrew Ryan can be reached at