On what was his 16th anniversary in the office of District Attorney, Dan Conley surprised many by announcing he would not run for the office again.
Simply put, the former prosecutor turned City Councilor turned DA, said he believed it was time to let others have a chance to run the county-wide office – an office that covers Boston, Chelsea, Revere and Winthrop.
“I love the job, the office, its staff, and the people and communities we serve,” said Conley in a statement. “But I have long believed that those of us fortunate enough to lead as elected officials must also be willing to give others the same opportunity. For this reason, I will not be seeking re-election this fall.”
Conley entered office on Feb. 20, 2002.
Chelsea Chief Brian Kyes – who worked closely with Conley and his office on hundreds of cases – said
“The news of my good friend Dan Conley not seeking re-election as the District Attorney of Suffolk County certainly comes as a surprise,” said the Chief. “I have been extremely fortunate to have worked directly with Dan and collaborate with him on a multiple of public safety initiatives and programs during the past 11 years as the Police Chief in Chelsea. His institutional knowledge, wisdom and extraordinary guidance as the leader of the prestigious office on Bulfinch Place has had an incredible impact across the entire region of Suffolk County that will last for decades. While I wholeheartedly respect Dan’s decision, which no doubt was a difficult one for him and his family, I know that he continues to have plenty to offer to the criminal justice system here in the Commonwealth moving forward.”
The news also set off a firestorm of candidates debating or announcing a run.
Already, by Wednesday morning, there were some candidates who had announced their possible intentions to run – most notably City Councilor at-Large Michael Flaherty. The councilor was a former assistant prosecutor.
“After today’s announcement by DA Conley, I have been asked if I would be interested in running for Suffolk County District Attorney to succeed him,” said Flaherty in a statement. “To that I say that I have always been interested in being the Suffolk County District Attorney. But this day is about acknowledging the outstanding job Dan Conley has done for the residents of Suffolk County. I will consult with my family about my own plans, but today we all owe our gratitude and thanks to Dan Conley…”
Long-time defense attorney Shannon McAuliffe, who has roots in Chelsea’s Roca program, had already been planning to run and will continue those plans.
Meanwhile, many have postulated about potential candidates around the area, mostly without any confirmation.
City Corporate Counsel Gene O’Flaherty, a Charlestown resident, has been mentioned in more than a few circles. With support in his former home of Chelsea –where he was the state representative for years – and also in Boston City Hall, where he now works, he could be a potential candidate with backing from key county personalities.
Within Conley’s office, long-time accomplished prosecutor Ed Zabin cannot be overlooked as a potential candidate for the position. His experience and expertise in prosecuting the most difficult cases in the county has no comparison.
Looking at some of the best attorneys in the area, one cannot overlook superstar defense attorney Rosemary Scapicchio, who has argued some of the best cases in the county for her clients with great success – and remarkable toughness.
One cannot discount former Councilor and mayoral candidate John Connolly, who is a close friend to Conley and recently showed up last year during Mayor Martin Walsh’s campaign after years of silence. Could he be looking for the position?
Meanwhile, in East Boston, former Boston City Councilor Mike Ross has been talked about as someone who would make sense in the post.
Any candidate, though, will have big shoes to replace, as Conley has been a very successful DA for many years.
In a letter to his staff, he outlined the scores of changes and innovations that have come to the DA’s office through his tenure – whether with the advent of DNA evidence or the hiring of skilled prosecutors.
In his statement, he also thanked law enforcement throughout the county.
“At a time when law enforcement has come under intense scrutiny across the country I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank the men and women of law enforcement across Suffolk County for their courage, their determination to do a difficult job well, and the standard they set for other agencies,” he said
He also said that the people of Suffolk County have been a blessing to him.
“From victims and survivors to families and loved ones, they have shown a depth of dignity and grace amid crisis and grief that has been nothing short of inspirational,” he said. “I am so grateful to them for their kindness, their wisdom, and their faith.”
Kyes added, “Leaders like Dan come along once in a generation. I consider myself a better public safety servant from being given the opportunity to have known and worked with him and have benefited from his leadership. I wish him nothing but the best as he begins a challenging new chapter.”
The election for district attorney won’t occur until the fall, but nomination papers for the seat and the Democratic primary in September will become available shortly.