“If I look at it, it was the hard work,” said Curtatone, 48, noting that she and her team knocked on 28,000 doors in all 44 of the district’s cities and towns during the months leading to the Sept. 6 primary. “Hard work does pay off.”
With no other candidates on the Nov. 6 ballot, Curtatone has a clear path to succeeding Eugene C. Brune. A Somerville Democrat, Brune opted against running for reelection after 24 years in the job, which involves maintaining land records for communities in southern Middlesex County.
Curtatone’s top rival in the primary was Maryann Heuston, Somerville Ward 2 alderwoman, who was endorsed by Brune, Somerville’s entire state legislative delegation, nine of the other 10 aldermen, and the city’s entire School Committee.
A seeming plus in her favor was sharing the last name of Somerville’s mayor, Joseph A. Curtatone. But Maria Curtatone played down any advantage the connection provided.
“Joe is my brother,” she said. “He loves me and I love him. But he did not help me in my race. I did not want any endorsement from any politician. I wanted to do it on my own.’’
Curtatone also noted that she has built up her own name recognition in the region, through her Somerville-based law practice and her own run for mayor in 1991, before her brother entered politics. She lost the race to the incumbent mayor, Michael Capuano, now a US congressman.
“This was Maria’s victory,” said James Igoe, a fellow Somerville lawyer who was an active supporter of Curtatone in the primary. “She outworked everyone. . . She was relentless.”
Curtatone, who is poised to become the first woman to hold the top job at the Middlesex South Registry of Deeds, ran a solid second to Heuston in Somerville, and topped the ticket in many of the district’s larger communities, including Cambridge, Everett, Framingham, Malden, Medford, and Waltham.
Overall, Curtatone received 14,534 votes to 12,990 for Heuston; 10,390 for former Newton mayor Thomas Concannon; 9,598 for former Middlesex County register of probate Robert Antonelli of Somerville; 7,872 for Frank Ciano, an Arlington Town Meeting member; and 5,007 for Wakefield Selectman Tiziano Doto.
Heuston said she was pleased with the support she received in Somerville, and “coming in second in a race like this where I had no exposure beyond being an alderman in the city.”
“But I think Maria will do a good job,” she said of Curtatone. “She works very hard. She’s an attorney and I know she has some definite ideas, things she wants to accomplish.”
Although now unopposed, Curtatone said she will continue to campaign actively until the final election, and is looking forward to the prospects of serving as register.
“I’m very excited,” she said. “I was just as excited two weeks ago or nine months ago, because it’s not about winning, it’s about being willing to do this. I’m happy because I can make a difference and build on the partnerships I created in the campaign.”
A single mother of two, Curtatone said she intends to suspend her law practice and make the $102,133 register job a full-time commitment.
That the new job would likely mean a loss of income does not concern her, Curtatone said.
“I don’t think it’s a sacrifice. It’s a big honor,” she said. “People are putting their trust in me so I can use my experience in the private sector for the public good.”
As register, Curtatone would oversee a staff of about 65 that operates out of a Cambridge building that the Registry of Deeds shares with Middlesex Probate Court.
As with most other registers of deeds — those in districts where the county government has been abolished — the office comes under the jurisdiction of the secretary of state.
Curtatone said she looks forward to bringing improvements to improving the office, including eliminating the multiyear backlog she said now exists in the recording of land documents. She also wants to make the office’s computer system more user-friendly.
“If you are an attorney and always using the system, then you’ve learned how to use it,” she said. “But for a lay person going on to use the system, it’s not that easy.”
Curtatone grew up in Somerville, the daughter of Maria G. and the late Cosmo Curtatone. Her parents, both Italian immigrants, ran several businesses, including beauty salons, a flower shop, and a nursing home at which she, Joseph, and their brother Cosmo were all involved.
Graduating from Somerville High School in 1981 and Emmanuel College in 1984, Curtatone earned her law degree from New England School of Law in 1988. She became a member of the bar that December, and started her own practice several months later.
Although she lost her mayoral bid in 1991, Curtatone remained active in politics, helping various candidates, including her brother, with their campaigns.
Igoe, who has known her as a friend and colleague for two decades, believes she will be a good fit for the register of deeds position.
“She has so much energy,” he said. “If you know Maria, everything she does, she goes full tilt with it. She’s going to tackle all the issues head-on and be a nonstop advocate for the county.”