Shawn Allyn joins crowded Democratic primary for Governor’s Council

  • Holyoke Attorney Shawn Allyn is one of four Democrats seeking his party’s nomination to fill the 8th District Governor’s Council seat. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

For the Gazette
Published: 7/11/2022 7:54:12 AM
Modified: 7/11/2022 7:53:56 AM

HOLYOKE — Holyoke attorney Shawn Allyn is one of four Democrats seeking his party’s nomination on Sept. 6 to fill the 8th District Governor’s Council seat currently held by East Longmeadow’s Mary Hurley. Hurley announced earlier this year that she would not run for reelection. She has served on the council since 2017.

Allyn’s roots run deep in Holyoke, having been born and raised in the city. A graduate of Holyoke Catholic High School, he remained in the city and went to Holyoke Community College, then moved on to complete a bachelor’s degree at Westfield State College. He completed his law training at what today is known as Western New England University School of Law and currently lives in Agawam.

The Governor’s Council confirms judges and clerks nominated by the governor, and also votes on nominations for Parole Board members, Department of Industrial Accident judges and other administrative quasi-judicial positions. The 8th District encompasses the four westernmost counties in Massachusetts, and all of Hampshire County, except Ware. Council terms run for two years, and the position pays $36,025 yearly.

After graduating from Westfield State, Allyn went to work with the Key Program, which he explained is a program that “provides outreach services to youth that are committed to the Department of Youth Services, and then the Department of Social Services, where we would assist the parents, tracking them and providing direct care services.”

He later worked for the Department of Social Services, which has been renamed the Department of Children and Families. During his five years with the agency, he provided care services and protective services to women and children, abused children, victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse.

Allyn, 52, clerked for the juvenile court and became assistant city solicitor for Holyoke before transitioning to private practice. He has been with the law firm of Allyn & Ball for just over two decades, serving as lead council in over 2,000 criminal cases and acting as defense attorney in both state and federal court. He also participates in civil cases, including employment discrimination cases.

“I think I’m the most uniquely qualified candidate given the vast experience I have practicing in just about every superior court in the state, in the appeals court, and in the district courts,” Allyn said on his decision to run. “Who better to vet a judge than someone who’s practiced in front of at least — without exaggeration — 50 different judges throughout my career — probably more than that.

“I know the ins and outs of the system, I know the bail statutes, I know the sentencing statutes, and I think that’s very important.”

Allyn said another motivating for him is “taking the politics out of this position.”

“This position is way too important for politics, and it’s got to be qualifications over political connections,” he said. “We need to diversify our bench, and I mean the people we appoint to be judges. The judges have to reflect the community in which we live. Retired (Springfield) Superior Court Judge Tina Page’s portrait was unveiled a couple of weeks ago. There has not been another Black superior court judge appointed in these four counties in two decades. We need to ask ourselves, ‘Why is that happening?’”

Page stepped down from the bench in 2018.

“Our judges need to reflect the community in which they’re judging,” Allyn continued. “That’s very important to me, and the qualifications of judges is very important to me. Selecting judges that are going to keep our communities safe is going to be the number one priority.”

His opponents in the Democratic primary are North Adams School Committee member Tara Jacobs, Springfield attorney Michael Fenton, and attorney Jeffrey Morneau of East Longmeadow. Palmer resident and U.S. Air Force veteran John Comerford is the sole Republican in the race.


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