The Massachusetts Governor’s council is made up of eight individuals. In western Massachusetts, voters can choose among two Republicans, and three Democrats for one seat. The council’s role in state government has been questioned in recent years. Mike Hannahan, head of UMass Amherst’s Civic Initiative, says the eight-member body dates to the colonial era, and is unique to Massachusetts. In other states, much of the council’s work is done by state legislators.
“Governor’s Councilors meet every Wednesday. They can be called to meet at other times by the governor, and their most important job is to review and approve of pardons and judicial appointments, as well as notary publics, etc.”
The entire council used to be third in the line of succession for Governor, but was removed in 1918. Hannahan says the council does have the power to reject a judicial nominee, but rarely does so.
“So, the next question might be, well, it’s a very big geographic unit, there’s only so many of them. So maybe people look at the Governor’s Council as a potential for moving up in politics, but very rarely have they.”
Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin says people have speculated over whether the council should be abolished, but he says it’s a necessary part of government because judicial appointees serve lifelong terms.
“In recent years there have been far more controversial nominees, or controversies, I’m not sure that they were always justified on our nominees, but there have been. And in some cases, it’s not so much that the appointments have been rejected, they’ve been withdrawn because of questions that have been raised.”
The Democratic candidates are former Springfield Mayor Michael Albano, Chicopee City Councilman Gerry Roy, and Westfield School Committee member Kevin Sullivan. Republican candidates are Washington Selectman Michael Case, and Holyoke veterans service officer Michael Franco.