Tom Brophy will have a lot to look back on when he leaves the Brockton City Council this year after a collective 20 years of public service.
The newly married councilor at large, dean of the 11-member panel as its longest-serving member, has announced he will not seek reelection so he can spend more time with his wife and stepdaughters.
But Brophy, 54, assured residents that he will continue serving the community as a volunteer.
“You don’t have to be elected to a public office to serve the greater public good,’’ he said. “After I leave office in 2014, I will stay involved.”
Brophy’s decision has drawn a growing field of candidates for four at-large seats. Three are held by incumbents Robert Sullivan, Todd Petti, and Jass Stewart; Petti and Stewart have not yet declared whether they intend to run again.
Among the contenders so far are Craig Pina, chairman of Brockton’s Republican City Committee; Democratic City Committee member Elliott “Ed” Miller; Democratic City Committee chairman Steven Foote; former city director of community services Moises Rodrigues; and Dawn Carr, a former WXBR radio personality, according to campaign announcements and political observers.
Brophy said he has been honored to represent his hometown, but, while he loves the job, “it is time to move on.’’
“There is going to be a huge hole to fill and he will be sorely missed,’’ said Mayor Linda Balzotti, who sat with Brophy on the City Council for a number of years before her 2009 election as mayor.
“He brings a lot of institutional knowledge that the newer councilors don’t have,’’ Balzotti said. “He never had his own agenda, always working in the best interest of the city as a whole.”
The son of Thomas and Mary Brophy grew up on Brockton’s East Side and was first elected as a Ward 5 city councilor in 1989, serving five consecutive terms.
In 1999, Brophy left the council to work as legal counsel to the state Senate on committees including Judiciary; Ways and Means; and Bonding, Capital Expenditures, and State Assets. He now works as general counsel to Senator Mark Montigny, a New Bedford Democrat.
Brophy caught the political bug again in 2003 and won an at-large seat on the City Council. He has since served another five terms, and twice was named council president by his colleagues.
As a councilor, Brophy has led the opposition to a 350-megawatt power plant proposed for Oak Hill Way; helped establish a new office of Planning and Economic Development that debuts next fiscal year; and wrote a home rule petition allowing the chief of police and License Commission to close drinking establishments when public safety is in danger.
In years past, he worked to bring Brockton out of a 1990 financial crisis; wrote an ordinance abating trash fees for elderly residents; supported a residency requirement for city employees; and, in 1997, helped reactivate Engine Company 4 at the East Side Fire Station after financial constraints caused it to be decommissioned seven years earlier.
Brophy secured funding for new schools and additions to the Brockton Public Library’s main branch and the Mary Kennedy Senior Center; had automatic external defibrillators placed in all city buildings; and helped create the annual “Keep Brockton Beautiful Day.’’
Support and thanks have poured in for Brophy’s service, including from Ed Byers, whose salad dressing factory sits next to the proposed power plant site. Byers said he appreciated Brophy’s staunch opposition to the project, and wishes him the best of luck.
But, Byers added, two decades of service is also a doubled-edged sword and new leadership may be warranted.
“In government, just as in business, positive change is a byproduct of new blood and outside-of-the-box thinking,’’ he said.
Brockton has the eighth-highest reserve cash balance in the state at a time the per capita income of its residents is 12th lowest out of the state’s 351 towns and cities, he said.
“You typically only see this large of a disparity between government and citizens in Third World countries,” Byers said.
Council president Timothy Cruise, who represents Ward 1, said it’s always good to have new blood, but experience and a willingness to work together — qualities he said Brophy exhibited in abundance — are key.
“I understand him wanting to leave, but I will miss him personally and professionally more than the public will ever understand,’’ he said.
Nomination papers for the Nov. 5 municipal election are available on June 10 and must be returned by July 30. The primary election is Sept. 17.
Michele Morgan Bolton can be reached at michelebolton@ live.com.