Elder Arroyo launches bid to take on embattled register

Felix D. Arroyo was a city councilor from 2003 to 2008 and a School Committee member from 1992 to 1999.
Felix D. Arroyo was a city councilor from 2003 to 2008 and a School Committee member from 1992 to 1999.Globe file photo

Former Boston councilor Felix D. Arroyo, the first Latino member of the chamber, announced he is running for Suffolk County Register of Probate and Family Court, setting the stage for a campaign against embattled incumbent Patricia Campatelli.

Arroyo, 65, said in a statement that he will take out nomination papers at Secretary of State William F. Galvin’s office on Wednesday morning.

“I hope the voters will consider me for this position, because I’m ready to serve , and I do have the experience to do it,” he said in a phone interview.

The register manages cases involving divorce, child custody, and other family issues.


Arroyo’s candidacy could lead to a showdown with Campatelli, who is on paid leave from the $122,000-a-year job pending an inquiry into allegations that she punched an employee after a night of drinking in December, among other acts of misconduct.

Her lawyer, Philip R. Boncore, has said Campatelli never punched anyone and that officials have refused to provide details about the allegations contained in a suspension letter, including allegations of mismanagement and “unprofessional conduct.”

On Tuesday, Boncore said Campatelli will run for reelection.

“Absolutely,” he said. “She’s done nothing wrong, so why wouldn’t she want to?”

Asked about the accusations against Campatelli, Arroyo said they were “very sad allegations,” noting that a review is pending. He declined to provide an assessment of her overall performance on the job.

“I’m running myself,” he said. “That is a public position, and I’m a candidate . . . and I’m eager to perform again as a public servant.”

Arroyo brings political clout and a wealth of public sector experience to a race for an office that normally draws little attention during election cycles.

He served on the City Council from 2003 to 2008 and the School Committee from 1992 to 1999. He also had stints as an education adviser to former mayor Raymond L. Flynn, a city personnel director, and an official with the state Department of Transitional Assistance.

Arroyo’s son, Felix G. Arroyo, the city’s health and human services chief, said last April that his father had retired and moved to Uruguay but was eager to return to Boston to support his mayoral campaign.


On Tuesday, the elder Arroyo said that he has maintained his Roslindale residence since 2009.

“I travel a lot to Uruguay,” he said. “I like the country, but I have also always kept” the Roslindale residence.

Lawrence S. DiCara, a former councilor and a close observer of local politics, had high praise for Arroyo on Tuesday but said he was surprised to learn of his candidacy.

“I think he’ll be a very strong candidate,” DiCara said. “He’s a very good and decent man. I always thought he was almost too nice to be in politics.”

DiCara added that Campatelli will be faced with the difficult task of “playing defense” during her reelection bid, when she will probably be asked about the investigation into her alleged misconduct.

“One of the first rules of politics is that you want to play offense, but if you’re playing defense, you can’t play offense,” he said.

But Campatelli, who scored an upset victory in 2012 against Councilor Salvatore LaMattina, will not be intimidated when she goes up against another household name, said Boncore, her lawyer.

“She’s not intimidated by anyone who wants to run,” Boncore said. “Everyone has a right to run for office, as well as she does.”

The other declared candidate is John Sepulveda of East Boston. A working number for Sepulveda could not be located Tuesday.

“The register [works with] issues that affect families and issues that affect testaments and wills,” Arroyo said. “They need to have an experience that is fair and adequate in court.”


He said he hopes to “help people in their time of need in a way that they deserve.”

Martin Finucane, Andrew Ryan, Andrea Estes, and Sean P. Murphy of the Globe Staff contributed to this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.