Governor’s Council Approves Rep. Kelcourse 5-3 for Parole Board

Rep. James Kelcourse is pictured in the Senate Chamber during opening ceremonies of the 191st General Court. (SHNS/File 2019.)

Amesbury Rep. James Kelcourse squeaked through the Governor’s Council at a Wednesday session where he was confirmed to the Parole Board on a 5-3 vote.

Councilors also unanimously approved Maryanne Galvin, a forensic psychologist, to the Parole Board.

A motion to approve Kelcourse’s nomination was met with arguments similar to those aired at a hearing last week, with some councilors upset by Kelcourse’s lack of experience in the mental health and substance abuse fields.

Councilors Bob Jubinville, Joe Ferreira, Eileen Duff, Mary Hurley and Terry Kennedy supported Kelcourse’s bid, while Councilors Marilyn Devaney, Paul DePalo and Chris Iannella voted in opposition. Hurley said she was initially a “no” vote, which would have tied the council 4-4 and likely led Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito to act as tiebreaker. Hurley “reconsidered” her position after last week’s hearing.

“I don’t think you can normally judge a book by its cover. Not every person who’s on the Parole Board has to be a social worker. If that were the case, I think it would swing the pendulum definitely the wrong direction,” said Hurley, who questioned Kelcourse about his social work experience last week.

For DePalo and Iannella, the Amesbury Republican’s lack of experience in mental health and addiction was a dealbreaker. “I can’t tell a family in the Commonwealth that their family member is having an initial hearing in front of someone who has no expertise in the very challenges that our criminal justice system faces,” DePalo said.

Ferreira said he envisioned Kelcourse as the “guy that holds people accountable, and leaves bad guys in jail—and as a former police chief, I’m OK with that.” Kelcourse, a four-term representative, can remain a House member until he is sworn in to his new post, according to the House clerk’s office. A Baker aide said Wednesday that a date had not yet been set for the swearing-in.

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