The Patriot Ledger / Nov. 8, 2006
Francis Powers has enjoyed being Plymouth County’s clerk of courts for 30 years, and voters yesterday told the 82-year-old Democrat that they didn’t want a change.
They returned Powers to office for another six years.
He had little trouble defeating Republican challenger Frederick McDermott of Brockton.
McDermott’s hope of ousting Powers was dashed when early returns last night showed showed the incumbent winning Brockton by nearly 5,000 votes.
“We worked very, very, hard,” Powers, a Scituate resident, said. “We never stopped once when we started. I’m just very pleased.”
McDermott, 51, tried to convince voters that it was time for change.
“I thought it would a good time to offer the people an option,” he said. “He (Powers) has been in office for a long time.”
Although he called Powers a “real gentleman,” McDermott said it was clear that many voters know little about what the clerk of courts does.
“I certainly respect the vote of the people,” he said. “Most must be satisfied. I don’t have any regrets. I’m certainly grateful for the experience. I feel more disappointed for the people who helped me.”
Powers said he didn’t mind McDermott drawing attention to Powers’ age.
“When he said I was too old, it was to my advantage,” Powers said. “It only made voters look at my experience. The older he made me, the more experience I had. My mother lived to be 100 and my father 90.”
One of Powers’ campaign workers, stepdaughter Katie Curran of Hanson, said her stepfather, a decorated World War II veteran, was a true champion who had served both his country and Plymouth County well.
Curran criticized McDermott for commenting at a candidates night in Wareham last week that a monkey could do the court clerk’s job.
Dennis Tatz may be reached at email@example.com.
Powers fights to keep county court clerk seat
The 82-year-old candidate being challenged by Frederick McDermott of Brockton has been in office for three decades.
ENTERPRISE STAFF WRITER
/ Nov. 1, 2006
At 51, Frederick McDermott of Brockton is about the same age Francis R. Powers of Scituate was when Powers was first elected Plymouth County clerk of courts three decades ago.
Now 82, Powers prevailed over his first challenge in the state primary election in September and now fights to keep the seat to which he was elected in 1976.
“When I get old, I'm going to retire,” Powers, the Democratic candidate, said during a recent telephone interview from his office at superior court in Plymouth. “But, I've got to get old first.”
Republican candidate McDermott, an attorney who earlier served on the Brockton School Committee, said Powers is old — too old to fulfill the duties of the job.
“Some might accuse me of age-bashing, but it's factual,” McDermott said. “The job is very comparable to a judge's job. Judges are made to retire at age 70.”
Superior court clerks are charged with scheduling docketing and scheduling court cases, sitting at court sessions to assist judges and attorneys, and keeping records. The current salary is $110,000 annually.
Powers will be 83 on Dec. 12. If elected to a sixth 6-year term on Tuesday, Powers will be 89 when his term ends.
A tall man with frosty white hair, Powers attributes his longevity to good genes — his mother lived to be 100, his father to age 90.
He travels daily from his home in the Humarock section of Scituate to the courthouse in downtown Plymouth where he maintains his office. There is one courtroom in Plymouth and five in Brockton, where most of the 27 people on his staff work and the bulk of the court business is conducted.
Powers says he speaks to the Brockton office daily, often more than once.
He said he counts his work schedule in days, not hours, often answering business calls morning, noon and night.
And, Powers says, he does not think about retirement benefits that will jump from $89,000 a year to $110,000 if he serves two more years in office.
“I'm not here to retire, I'm here to work,” he said.
Powers is not doing the work that is required of the job, according to McDermott, a Brockton attorney who often has business in superior court.
“He's a real gentleman, he's a very pleasant person,” said McDermott. “I hope he lives to be 100, but at some point people need to retire. He needs to retire.”
McDermott said Powers is seldom at the busy Brockton courthouse.
“I think the public deserves somebody who's at least going to be there giving the clerks some direction where it's needed,” McDermott said. “It's needed in Brockton, not Plymouth.”
He said Powers has not kept up with the rest of the state, especially in the case of appointing a first assistant clerk.
According to McDermott, Powers' wife Clare retired as first assistant several years ago and the post has been vacant ever since.
“There's no first assistant, no co-pilot, everybody does what they want,” McDermott said.
This is the first time Powers has faced a Republican challenger since he was first elected.
When people think of elections, they think of governors and legislators — not court clerks, McDermott said. And when voters get to the bottom of the ballot, they probably don't give it much thought, he suggested.
“I don't think a lot of people know about the office or even care. Even some attorneys don't know what the clerk does,” McDermott continued.
“To an extent, I sympathize with the public. Nobody wants to hear about the clerk of courts' six-year term. It's easy to go under the radar.”
Elaine Allegrini can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Powers facing first
GOP foe in 30 years
The Patriot Ledger / Oct. 16, 2006
Plymouth County Clerk of Courts Francis Powers is still going strong as he prepares to face his first Republican challenger in 30 years.
Opposing the Democrat from Scituate in the general election is Brockton lawyer Frederick McDermott.
Powers, 82, who first won election to the county job in 1976 and is running for his sixth six-year term, said he owes much of his success to those who have worked tirelessly in his office over the years.
“I have some of the best workers and assistants in the state,” he said.
Powers easily won renomination after defeating another Brockton lawyer, Mark Adams, in last month’s Democratic primary.
“We are working very hard,” Powers, a World War II veteran and Distinguished Flying Cross medal recipient, said. “It doesn’t really change.”
Powers, who flew 32 combat missions in the war, said he retains the same enthusiasm for the clerk of courts job as when he first took office.
Voters should look to his experience in the court system, he said.
But McDermott believes it’s time for fresh leadership and new ideas after 30 years.
McDermott, who spends a lot of time representing clients in Brockton Superior Court, said Powers often can’t be found at the courthouse and leaves much of the workload to others.
“There has been no guidance in that office for quite a while,” McDermott said. “It’s on automatic pilot. He (Powers) is just not there. I think I can do a better job supervising the office. I want to be accountable to the voters.”
McDermott said Powers is a “real nice gentleman,” who simply isn’t giving the clerk’s job the attention it needs.
“Everyone I speak to asks me why is he (Powers) running for another term,” McDermott said.
He said voters should understand that Powers would be in his late 80s if he wins re-election and serves another term in office.
Dennis Tatz may be reached at email@example.com.
Incumbent holds campaign money lead in clerk race
Oct. 7, 2006
Facing his first primary challenge since being elected Plymouth County’s clerk of courts in 1976, Francis R. Powers raised more than $23,600 this year and spent almost $16,000.
Having soundly defeated his rival in the Democratic primary, Powers, 82, now faces Republican Frederick M. McDermott of Brockton in the general election. When it comes to campaign funds, he holds a commanding lead over his opponent.
Powers, a Scituate resident, had $7,706 to spend as of Aug. 31. McDermott had a little more than $2,500.
McDermott reported raising about $5,200 since deciding to run for the job. Of that, $2,000 came out of his own pocket as a loan to the campaign. He had spent about $3,000 as of Aug. 31.
The following people contributed $100 or more to the candidates’ campaigns between Jan. 1 and Aug 31:
$100 - Pat and Carolyn Barnes, Brockton; John Burke, Weymouth; Brian and Paula Donnelly, Weymouth; Shaun Fitzgerald, Easton; Edgar and Marie Guaraldi, Brockton; Peter and Kelly Guaraldi, Lakeville; Michael LaFrance, Bridgewater; Edmund Mathers, Brockton; David Slutsky, Brockton; Ernest Vespari, Taunton.
$500 - Jack Atwood, Plymouth; James Milligan, Norwell; Francis Powers, Marshfield; Joseph Walsh, Boston.
$300 - Jack Diamond, Hingham; Dorothy Foley, Franklin; Kevin Reddington, Brockton.
$250 - Clare Faherty, Forest, Ill.; Robert Jubinville, Milton; Joseph Verrochi, Norwell; Michael Verrochi, Norwell.
$200 - Sheila Blood, Plymouth; Doris Catrambone, Brockton; Bernard Goodman, Brockton; Lorraine Langone, Marshfield; James Lawton, Brockton; Terence McDermott, Boston; William McDermott, Boston; Peter Muse, Quincy; Leo Purcell, Quincy; Allan Tufankjian, Brockton.
$100 - Mary Ames, Boston; Raymond Arabasz, Bridgewater; William Asci, Mattapoisett; Adam Baler, Plymouth; David Biggs, Mansfield; Robert Bouley, Wellesley; Brian Bowen, Pembroke; James Burke, Brockton; Phyllis Butler, Middleborough; Joseph Buttner, Hanson; Louis Cassis, Quincy; Robert Creedon, Brockton; Sean Curran, Sudbury; James D’Ambrose, Brockton; Willie Davis, Boston; John Deady, Dedham; Stuart Delano, Brockton; Geoffrey Domenico, Easton; John Eklund, Mattapoisett; Elaine Epstein, Sharon; John Faherty, LaPlata, Md.; Bruce Ferg, Quincy; Stephen Finnegan, Milton; Thomas Finnerty, Milton; Donald Fleming, Mattapoisett; Patricia Gardner, Braintree; Joseph Gaughan, Marshfield; Donald Gibson, Marshfield; Joseph Hanley, Boston; Clyde Hanyen, Canton; Thomas Hensley, Taunton; Peter Heppner, Mansfield; Robert Hilson, Hingham; Russ Hodgdon, Norwell; Marshal Johnson, Plymouth; Robert Joy, Wareham; Timothy Kelleher, Plymouth; Thomas Kennedy, Brockton; Francis Lynch, Scituate; Francis Lynch, Easton; Robert Marini, Weymouth; Christopher Mathers, Brockton; James McCall, Boston; Michael McGlone, Dartmouth; Stephen Miller, Boston; Elizabeth Mulvey, Hingham; James Murphy, Brockton; Vincent Murray, Boston; James Nixon, Falmouth; Daniel O’Malley, Milton; Daniel Passacantilli, Boston; Francis Powers, Scituate; Gerald Pudolsky, Canton; Robert Quinn, Milton; Ellen Ramsey, Hingham; James Re, Boston; Charles Reidy, Boston; Edward Reservitz, Easton; Marc Santos, Fairhaven; Ralph Scapicchio, Weymouth; Carroll Sheehan, Stoneham; David Sorrenti, Bridgewater; John Spinale, Halifax; Brendan Sullivan, Quincy; Susan Sullivan, Plainville; Walter Timilty, Milton; Janet Wallace, Kingston; Jean Wallen, Attleboro; Timothy White, Hingham; Lawrence Winokur, Plymouth; Craig Wolfe, Hull; Stephen Woodworth, Duxbury.