Boston City Clerk and former City Councilwoman Maureen Feeney is as down-to-earth as your favorite aunt and as savvy as any political pointer. This rare blend of talents has earned her widespread respect in the 34 years she has worked at City Hall.
Feeney, 74, confirmed to GBH News on Monday that she would be retiring.
“My husband has been retired forever, so we’ll try to see if it works out,” she joked.
His last day of work will be February 1, six days before the first Monday of the month when his three-year term expires.
“The clerk job was really my dream job and I loved it. It’s really hard to say goodbye,” Feeney said. “But, you know, I think new energy could be a really positive thing and it felt like the right time.”
The Clerk’s Office is Boston’s official filing agency. The clerk accepts and maintains all municipal records for the city, including those that pass between the council and the mayor’s office.
Feeney began working at City Hall as an assistant to former councilman, now judge, James E. Byrne in April 1987.
After serving as treasurer to Byrne’s campaign opponent John Garland, Feeney said Byrne approached her about joining his team after the two crossed paths at several community meetings.
It was Byrne, Feeney said, who suggested he run for the Dorchester seat he planned to give up years later.
“He said, ‘I’m going on a birthday trip with my wife, and I’m going to tell her that I quit. …And so when I come back, I want to see your stickers on my bumper. office,” Feeney recalled, telling Byrne.
She started weighing a campaign after her husband encouraged her.
“My favorite part of that story is when I went to my mom’s house and said, ‘Mom, I think I’m going to run for office,'” Feeney said. “And in her wonderful Irish way, she said, ‘But Maureen, who would vote for you?'”
Feeney was elected to the Boston City Council in 1993, defeating five opponents in the primary and beating Joseph P. McDermott by more than 40 percentage points overall.
“Oh, what can I say? The rest is history,” the clerk said with a laugh.
For 17 years Feeney held the seat now held by Councilor Frank Baker before becoming clerk in a somewhat controversial fashion.
She quietly resigned from that office in late 2011, just before her term ended, just in time to meet the minimum required 30-day window between jobs to satisfy state conflict of interest laws. .
Feeney’s departure comes amid other significant changes to the Boston City Council.
Four veteran councilors – Andrea Campbell, Annissa Essaibi George, Kim Janey and current mayor Michelle Wu – gave up their seats in the mayoral pursuit, while former councilor Matt O’Malley declined to run for re-election. , citing a desire to spend more time with his growing family.
State Senator Lydia Edwards, who has intended to simultaneously hold her seat on the council through April since she began her new role at the Statehouse earlier in January, will also eventually leave the council, creating a place for another new member.
The job of clerk is one of the few appointments controlled solely by the city council.
Although many former clerks have also been former city councilors, Feeney said she hopes to see Alex Geourntas, deputy city clerk, succeed her.
“Historically it’s gone to a councilman, but we’ve had, you know, a few people who weren’t… so hopefully the council will look favorably on his becoming clerk,” Feeney said.
Several advisers have told GBH News they are thinking of Geourntas, although no commitments have been made.
Feeney will make his official farewell on Wednesday when the board meets to launch his new term.