Shawn Dooley, newly elected to represent the Ninth Norfolk District in the state House of Representatives, says he wants to work across partisan lines when he gets to Beacon Hill.
“I have a pretty good relationship with several members in the Democratic caucus,” said Dooley, who after winning Tuesday’s special election will be one of 29 Republicans out of the House’s 160 members.
“I’m more than willing to reach across the aisle and work together,” Dooley added. “Most of the people I know on that side aren’t pure partisans, and they’re more than happy to work together. Get a couple of Republicans on board and four or five Democrats and craft’’ a bill, he said, “that’s how you get things done. I may be naïve, but that’s my hope.”
Dooley, who is the town clerk in Norfolk, won the seat in a landslide, garnering 61 percent of the vote. Walpole Selectman Christopher Timson, an independent, took 21 percent. Democrat Edward J. McCormick III of Norfolk came in third with 18 percent.
The district — which covers all of Norfolk, Wrentham, and Plainville, as well as parts of Walpole, Medfield, and Millis — has been a safe Republican bet in recent years, with the party holding the seat for the last two decades. Dooley’s predecessor in the seat was Daniel Winslow, who waged an unsuccessful bid for the GOP nomination to replace John Kerry in the US Senate last spring, and resigned in September to take a job in the private sector. Before Winslow, the seat was held by Richard Ross, now in the state Senate, and Scott Brown, who went on to the US Senate.
While the seat has previously served as a launching pad to higher office, Dooley said he has “no interest” in any position other than state representative. He also promised he wouldn’t resign in the middle of his term, barring a “catastrophic” event like a family emergency.
“For any of the foreseeable reasons — getting a better-paying job or running for higher office — I would never resign,” he said.
Dooley, 47, said he will resign his position as town clerk when he’s sworn into the House. He’s also the chairman of the Norfolk School Committee, a post he’ll keep until the town election in May.
Dooley credited his wife, Norfolk Town Moderator CiCi Van Tine, and their four children — ages 6 to 17 — with helping propel him to victory.
“CiCi went above and beyond,” he said. “She’s a partner in a law firm. The kids had a lot of nights and weekends without their dad around. It made it possible, having such a strong family support system.”
Winslow, who endorsed Dooley for the seat, said he will do a “fantastic job” and predicted that he will be the House Republican leader within six years.
“He’s very smart,” Winslow said. “He’s very experienced politically, but he’s also one of the most civically engaged people I’ve met. He lives to serve.”
Winslow, who worked as a lawyer while serving in the House, praised Dooley’s decision to make the representative position his only job. “I think it’s going to be a huge advantage to constituents that he’s going to be available to them full time,” he said.
Richard Pilla, chairman of the Norfolk County Republican Committee, said he thinks the seat has stayed within the party for so long because Republicans have fielded candidates whose messages have resonated with the district’s voters.
‘I’m more than willing to reach across the aisle and work together.’
“People are interested in quality education, good neighborhoods, good municipal services, and they tend to be fiscally responsible, and look for more from their elected officials in terms of accountability,” Pilla said.
Because Dooley won a special election to serve the remainder of Winslow’s term, he’ll be up for reelection in November.Calvin Hennick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.