Hoye Appointed Register of Probate, O’Connell Enters Mayoral Race
BOSTON — As Governor Charlie Baker tapped Taunton Mayor Thomas Hoye as the interim register of probate in Bristol County, Republican Representative Shaunna O'Connell immediately jumped into a mayoral race where potential candidates have only a day remaining to submit nomination papers.
Less than an hour after Baker's office announced the appointment, O'Connell, of Taunton, declared her candidacy for mayor, saying in a statement that "now is the time to bring new leadership to the city with a vision of revitalizing our community, keeping our neighborhoods safe, and holding the line on taxes and fees."
Hoye, a Democrat who has served as mayor since 2012, told the News Service Monday afternoon that he plans to resign from his current office, though his timeline to step down is not certain, and will not run in this year's election.
"It's bittersweet, but I'm excited. I'm ready for a new opportunity and a new adventure," Hoye said. He said, "I certainly am not going to seek re-election."
On Friday, the Taunton Daily Gazette reported that Hoye was running unopposed and planned to return his papers by Monday or Tuesday.
Candidates interested in running for mayor of the city of more than 57,000 residents -- who would now not have to run against a four-term incumbent -- have until 5 p.m. Tuesday to submit their nomination papers to the city.
"You only need 25 signatures, so it's not certainly a daunting task for anybody who was thinking of it," said Hoye, who declined to say whether he would support any particular candidate as a successor.
A lifelong Taunton resident, O'Connell was first elected to the House in 2010 and serves as the ranking minority member on the House Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change and the House Committee on Personnel and Adminsitration. She said in her campaign announcement that she knows the challenges city residents face.
"That's why I will to strive to make our city not a gateway city, but rather, a leading city for the Commonwealth where people have greater economic opportunities," O’Connell said.
"I want our children to be able to live in the community where they grew up and find good paying jobs. We must have a positive vision and roadmap for the future of Taunton."
Hoye on Monday said there are a "few moving parts" regarding when he will step down as mayor, and he assumes he will "probably stay" into September or October.
He said he intends to run for a full, six-year term as register of probate. The next election for that seat will take place in 2020.
"I look forward to hitting the ground running over the next few months, and I'm certainly grateful to the voters of Taunton for giving me the opportunity to serve the city of Taunton for the last eight years, and I'm proud of things we've accomplished together," he said.
Former Bristol County Register of Probate Gina DeRossi resigned last year after she was appointed court administrator of the Appeals Court. Baker's appointment of Hoye to fill her term is subject to approval by the Governor's Council.
"Mayor Hoye has a strong record of serving the Commonwealth and his community, particularly children and vulnerable populations," Baker said in a statement.
"From his time teaching in the Taunton Public Schools, to his work tackling the opioid epidemic, he has dedicated his career to bettering the lives of those around him and I am pleased to submit his name for this interim appointment to the Governor’s Council for their advice and consent."
Taunton City Councilor Barry Sanders told the News Service late Monday afternoon that he likely would not join the mayoral race "barring some miracle," mentioning the challenge of the roughly 24-hour turnaround time to pull papers and collect signatures by Tuesday's 5 p.m. deadline.
He declined to say whether he would support O'Connell or another candidate, preferring to see what the full ballot looks like ultimately. But Sanders did say news of O'Connell's candidacy came as a surprise.
"O'Connell's name wasn't even on the radar 24 hours ago as far as I knew," said Sanders, who called in from a vacation in Maine.
"It's pretty interesting she's been able to position herself to run for mayor at this point."