(Jeremy C. Fox for Boston.com)
Supporters of Patricia “Patty” Campatelli rallied around the Suffolk County register of probate candidate at a political fund-raiser in East Boston on Tuesday, saying that she is the right person for the job and that media reports have created a false impression of her character.
Campatelli, a political newcomer and lifelong East Boston resident, stunned many in local politics when she defeated popular Councilor Salvatore LaMattina in the Democratic primary for the open register of probate seat. But most supporters at Tuesday’s event at Little Asia, a Chinese restaurant in Orient Heights, said her success came as no surprise to them.
“I was psyched,” said Leanne Tosto, 46, an East Boston native who said she has known Campatelli her entire life. “I was so psyched that she won.”
Tosto said she doesn’t often get involved in politics, but Campatelli is not a typical candidate.
“As far as I’m concerned, most political people are phony people, and Patty’s not,” Tosto said. “She’s human. She’s you and me.”
With no Republican running for the office, November’s general election will be just a formality for Campatelli, 48, who previously worked as a substitute teacher, a youth worker with at-risk teens, and in several positions in the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department.
She earned a master’s degree in crime and justice at Suffolk University and is currently the statewide program supervisor for the Office of Community Corrections. As register of probate, she will oversee wills, adoptions, divorces, and child custody cases.
In early September, the candidate told the Globe she had not written the Facebook messages, saying up to 20 campaign workers had access to the pages at various times. Her personal account was later deleted and a new account created. She has not publicly commented on the restaurant incident.
Campatelli declined to be interviewed at the campaign event, saying only that she was happy to be among family, friends, and supporters and looked forward to taking office in January.
John R. Correggio, a Revere city councilor, said he was somewhat surprised Campatelli had been able to overcome LaMattina’s wider name-recognition but that she had run a strong grass-roots campaign.
Correggio said he believed Campatelli was well qualified for the register of probate job and any allegations against her were just politics.
“When you run for higher office, you’ll always see people come up that will try to find something that will hurt the candidate — or to create something,” Correggio.
Anne Manning-Martin, a Peabody city councilor, said she has known Campatelli since they worked together at the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department starting in 1995 or ’96, The allegations made against Campatelli do not square with the woman she knows, Martin said.
“I can vouch for Patty Campatelli as a hard worker, a good person, reliable,” Manning-Martin said, “and any of the last-minute mud-slinging that unfortunately has become commonplace in politics today is in the past, and Patty is going to move forward and be a dedicated public servant, as she always has been in the past.”
Of all the supporters in attendance at the fund-raiser, probably none had known Campatelli longer than Christine Bolognese and Jo Panzini. Bolognese, 80, and Panzini, 83, were close friends of Campatelli’s mother, also named Patricia Campatelli, who died in late June.
The women remembered Campatelli in her childhood as an energetic, thoughtful girl who was as interested in school as she was sports.
“Patty liked to learn things,” said Panzini. “Patty always had a book in her hand. If it wasn’t a book, it was a [baseball] bat.”
Panzini said Campatelli’s mother was a well-loved figure in the neighborhood who always had a swarm of children gathered around her kitchen.
“And that’s how Patty was brought up: to be honest, to be kind, and to be sensitive,” Panzini added. “Patty’s very sensitive.”
Joan Ferrera, 60, an East Boston native who has lost count of how many decades she’s known Campatelli, said it was unfortunate Campatelli’s mother hadn’t lived long enough to see her daughter’s electoral success.
“It’s sad because she just lost her mother,” Ferrara said. “You know, her mother would have been proud of her, to see this.”
(Jeremy C. Fox for Boston.com)