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Local Lawyer Makes Play For Worcester City Council Seat

Friday, March 08, 2013


Worcester attorney Michael Gaffney has thrown his hat in the ring for this year's municipal election, making a play for one of the City Council's six at-large seats.

The 41-year-old lawyer said the city's eroding tax base, shrinking middle class and undermanned police force were a few of the concerns that led to his decision to run for an at-large seat.

"I find it disturbing that the City Council seems to constantly be reacting to events rather than controlling them," he said.

Gaffney said that attracting professionals back to the Commonwealth's second-largest city, putting more police officers on the street and increasing oversight by elected officials on the city's operations are three major issues that Worcester faces, and that he hopes to tackle if elected.

Change in thinking needed

Now a divorce, personal injury and bankruptcy attorney with a law office on Linden Street in Worcester, Gaffney grew up in a single parent home in Webster. He attended Bay Path Vocational High School and put himself through college at Worcester State while working overnights at Cranston Print Works in Webster, where he was a union member. He went on to earn a Master's from Assumption College and a law degree from New England School of Law. Gaffney also enlisted in the Army National Guard, where he attained the rank of Captain.

One big asset Gaffney hopes to bring to City Hall is a change in thinking.

"The City Council seems to do the same thing over and over again hoping for a different result," he said referring to the big, blockbuster development projects the City has pursued that failed to deliver the big results and revitalization they supposedly promised.

Gaffney pointed to the Worcester Common Fashion Outlets, which succeeded the Worcester Center Galleria and have now been demolished to make way for the reopening of Front Street, CitySquare and the Theatre District, as a prime example.

"We just went full-circle on these things and every time I turn around there's a new project that's going to save Worcester and it never happens," he said.

"At some point, you've got to have better solutions than these."

Gaffney lauded the abilities of City Manager Michael O'Brien, and said the public exam school that Mayor Joseph Petty proposed investigating for Worcester is a great idea. However, the lack of provisions to protect against the disruption to the City's tax revenues caused by UMass Medical School's purchase of property at the Biotech Park and the news that the Hilton Garden Inn owes the city roughly $700,000 for parking after a report found that the City's garages were losing money were two examples Gaffney cited in making his case for greater involvement and oversight on the part of the Council.

Growing the ranks of the Worcester Police Department is also a top priority for the Council hopeful.

"No development will succeed downtown until people feel it is safe," he said.

Candidates over party allegiances

While this year's City Council race will be Gaffney's first campaign as a candidate, he is the campaign finacne manager for Jen Caissie (R-Oxford), who holds the 7th District seat on the Governor's Council, and campaign finance manager for Justin Brooks, Republican candidate for state Rep. in Worcester's 4th District in 2012, and has been involved with a number of other campaigns as well.

Although he has worked with Republican campaigns in the past, Gaffney himself is unenrolled, and he will be running as an unenrolled candidate this fall.

According to filings with the state's Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF), he made a $125 contribution to the conservative Activate Worcester County Political Action Committee last April, which raised some eyebrows, but Gaffney said he and his wife attended the group's initial event, where Caissie was speaking and Gaffney had the chance to meet former Republican Senator Scott Brown, and he made a donation. He has not made any donations to Activate Worcester since that time, and he is not a member of the group.

"I've been supportive of people who I believe are trying to make a difference," Gaffney said, as opposed to party-based allegiances.

Gaffney's full contribution records with the OCPF tell a more nuanced tale, with donations to Democrats, such as Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray, Worcester County Register of Probate Stephen Abraham and Worcester At-Large Councilor Frederick Rushton, in addition to Caissie on the Republican side.

Gaffney's campaign kick-off event is scheduled for next Thursday, March 14, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at O'Connor's Restaurant on West Boylston St. in Worcester.


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Edward Saucier

Michael Gaffney may be registered as "unenrolled" which is akin to an "independent," of which there are very true independents - they are only disgruntled dems or goopers. Gaffney works for republican candidates - that makes him a republican. I bet he voted republican. He gets my vote for being disingenuous but not my vote for City Council.

I wonder if he was the local lawyer Jordan Levy referred to for the tip off concerning UMass Medical School buying the property of profit makers in the Biotech Park any converting them into nonprofits?

Gaffney lauded the abilities of City Manager Michael O'Brien. The CM backs up the ignorance, abuse of power, stubborn, vindictive behavior of the WPD Chief Gemme concerning the David Rawlston case. Rawlston was fired for basically nothing and has won all the legal decisions along the way to getting his job back. The arbitrator even awarded Ralston back pay, which is unusual in arbitration cases. Gemme will not abide by the decisions and Rawlston has a $2 million law suit against the City of Worcester which he will eventually win. Where will the City manager and Chief Gemme stand with the taxpayers when that happens?

Stephen Quist

the simple fact that gaffeny felt he HAD to donate to a tea partier front group and spent a majority of his times working to elect republiCants to office says it all........gaffney is another teapartier like colorio that while being full fledged teapartiers they do not want to be associated with the stain that permeates the active members......this campaign by gaffney is a non-starter.....teapartiers are unelectable here in Worcester THANK GOD!

Stephen Quist

@Ed you are absolutely correct that Rawlston will win his lawsuit against the city of worcester and chief gemee but I think the total award will far exceed $2m.........btw whats wrong with true unenrolled indepenents that are truly independent versus a gaffney that runs republiCant campaigns and claims to be 'faux pas independent'?

Edward Saucier

Q - I meant to say there are very few true independent voters. Many say they are but few truly are.

Google - Just How Independent Are Independent Voters?

I used the $2 million number in the Rawlston case because that is what was in the paper. He may or may not get more.

This guy Gaffney is just another phoney, trojan horse republican.

Stephen Quist

@Ed - definitely on the mark with gaffney

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