Governor’s Council to Question Taunton Mayor Hoye on Appointment
BOSTON — Taunton Mayor Thomas Hoye, Gov. Charlie Baker's appointee to serve as interim Bristol County register of probate, will come before the Governor's Council in two weeks for a confirmation hearing after what one councilor described as a concerning appointment process.
Marilyn Devaney, one of eight members of the panel that vets the governor's judicial nominees, said Wednesday she was "disappointed" by the procedure followed in appointing Hoye and raised issues with the timing of the announcement.
"This whole thing is very concerning to me, how this all happened," Devaney said at a council meeting.
The previous Bristol register of probate, Gina DeRossi, stepped down in November after she was appointed to another post. Baker tapped Hoye as interim register on Aug. 5, one day before potential Taunton mayoral candidates were required to return their nomination papers to City Hall.
Days earlier, Hoye had said he was planning to run for re-election this fall in what was shaping up to be an uncontested race.
There are now four candidates vying to be the next mayor of the 57,000-person city, including Republican Rep. Shaunna O'Connell. The other candidates are City Councilor Estele Borges, who is a Democrat, unenrolled candidate Peter Bzdula, and Republican Mark Baptiste.
Borges plans to hold a campaign kickoff event Thursday evening at the District Center for the Arts.
O'Connell put out a statement announcing her candidacy within an hour of the governor's office sending out its press release on Hoye's appointment. The Massachusetts Democratic Party blasted the incident as an attempt "to Hand-pick Taunton's Next Mayor," while the Republican Party called it "ridiculous" to suggest Baker acted inappropriately.
Devaney on Wednesday also said she "never got a letter from the governor saying he appointed this person."
The appointment would run through the 2020 elections. Hoye told the News Service earlier this month that he plans to run for a full, six-year term in the register post.
The council scheduled Hoye's confirmation hearing for 11 a.m. on Sept. 4.
Councilor Robert Jubinville said it was important to have "some sort of question and answer period" with Hoye before deciding whether to sign off on his appointment.
"We don't know anything about this man," Jubinville said. "Some of us have never met him."
Separately during its Wednesday meeting, the Governor's Council confirmed Kimberly Foster as the new clerk magistrate in Somerville and scheduled an Aug. 28 hearing on Baker's nomination of Shrewsbury Police Lt. Joseph McCarthy Jr. as clerk magistrate of the Westborough District Court.