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East Boston natives Salvatore LaMattina and Patricia Campatelli face off in register of probate race

Posted by Jeremy C. Fox  August 21, 2012 08:13 AM

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Two East Boston Democrats will face off in the Sept. 6 primary for the open seat for Suffolk County register of probate.

Veteran Boston City Councilor Salvatore LaMattina and Patricia Campatelli, currently the statewide program supervisor for the Office of Community Corrections, will be on the ballot for the post, which oversees wills, adoptions, divorces, and child custody.

The post pays $110,000 a year and is currently held by Sandra Giovannucci, a former deputy assistant register who was sworn in on April 1, 2011, as a temporary replacement after Richard Iannella, a 14-year register of probate and former Boston city councilor, resigned earlier that year.

In recent interviews, both LaMattina and Campatelli said they were prepared to deal compassionately with the families who come to the probate department, often during difficult times of loss or separation and without legal experience. And each said his or her experiences in government were ideal preparation for the job.

Salvatore LaMattina
“I managed a department with 99 employees, all union, so I deal with some of those issues [we face] when we have union employees,” said LaMattina, 52, in a reference to his tenure as director of operations at the Boston Transportation Department from 1999 until his election to the City Council in 2006.

LaMattina said he had seen the Transportation Department through tough times, reducing backlogs in the sign shop and raising revenues from parking meters even as his staff shrank from 99 to 69 due to budget cuts.

“When I left there, we didn’t have a backlog and we did more with less,” he said. “That’s the experience I think I bring to the register of probate, but I want to go in with an open mind and try to get some probate lawyers to come in and give me an idea how we can move that operation [forward].”

Prior to the Transportation Department, LaMattina worked as a housing advocate at the Cross Roads Family Shelter, a neighborhood liaison for the mayor’s office, and was assistant director of the City of Boston Central Artery Team.

He said he believed he could modernize the probate department and make a case to the state legislature that would persuade lawmakers to increase the budget and staffing for the department.

Patty Campatelli.jpg
Patricia Campatelli
Campatelli, 48, worked as a substitute teacher and then as a youth worker with at-risk teens before moving on to several positions in the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department and the state Office of Community Corrections, earning a master’s degree in crime and justice at Suffolk University.

She said the court system involves collaborations between many different agencies, and she is “very familiar with collaborations and how things work in the hierarchy of the courts, having worked for the courts and having worked with families and the agencies that you need to ... deal with.”

She said the register of probate’s office is a “hectic, hectic place,” where important legal documents are processed, and her experience running the records division for the sheriff’s department has prepared her for the job.

Campatelli knows she faces something of an uphill battle, given LaMattina’s name-recognition across Boston, but she hopes voters will look at her record of service.

“I’ve had a county-wide position for many years, as well as a statewide position, and people know my work,” she said. “I’m hoping people are smart enough to vote for the qualified candidate who has already done this stuff.”

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