Townie Tidbits

By Sal Giarratani


As someone who loved politics and worked with many of Boston’s elected officials, I always thought highly of Joe Timilty, and was saddened to hear of his passing. I remember back in 1969 when I could vote for the first time when I lived on Pearl Street next to the Holden School, which was my voting precinct site. Joe Timilty was one of the first candidates I ever voted for. He was a young candidate and new voice with a Boston political pedfgree. His grandfather James Timilty was a longtime state senator, and his uncle Joe Timilty was police commissioner under Mayor Curley.

He was buried from St. Gregory’s Church Parish in Dorchester where he was born and raised. Always an outspoken fighter who never forgot his roots. Back in 1979, my Uncle Neal Harrington was from Charlestown and loved doing politics. In that mayoral, he worked the streets of Uphams Corner for Joe Timilty, especially among the neighborhood’s elderly voters. My uncle must have been heartbroken by the loss, two days later he died in his Stoughton Street apartment from an apparent heart attack.

I remember when Timilty ran and was elected to the Boston City Council in 1967, and I considered him a new and fresh face in Boston politics. In 1969 when I was old enough to vote, he was among the first politicians I ever voted into office. I liked him, his policies and his style.

Back in 1969, he was only 30-something  and out of Dorchester Lower Mills. He seemed to love his city and the game of politics and  always  wanted to be a voice and vote for the citizens of Boston. I remember when he ran for mayor two years later against Kevin H. White and Louise Day Hicks and finished third. Following that loss, he ran for state senate in a district that included Mattapan, Hyde Park , Dorchester, Canton and Sharon. He served up on Beacon Hill until 1985.

He tried twice more for mayor, but failed both times. Many, including myself, have said that he was the best mayoral candidate who never got elected. During the Carter administration, he was the national voice for Urban ‘American’s housing challenges and continued representing all Americans on the issue of housing.

His was a passion for public service. He did fall into a little trouble about 25 years ago, but worked his way through it and came out undefeated. Timilty will be remembered for his outspoken defense of ordinary working families struggling to survive and prosper.

He was both  throwback and old school when it came to representing the citizens of Boston and was indeed in love with his City. Charlestown will miss him. He was a good guy.

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