For Timilty, public service is in his blood
It was no surprise when still in his early 30s, in 2004, Jim Timilty ran and was elected to the state Senate.
His father, grandfather, great uncle, cousin and sister have all served the public in various capacities.
Most notably, Joseph Timilty, the senator’s father, was a Boston city councilor in the ’60s and ’70s and served in the state Senate during the ’70s and ’80s.
What surprised some is the stark contrast between the father’s old-school bare-knuckle politics, and the son’s congeniality.
State Sen. Richard T. Moore, D-Uxbridge, who has worked with Timilty as both a member of the House and Senate highlighted the contrast.
“He is very well-liked on both sides of the aisle,” Moore said. “He’s one of the most popular members and a real leader on issues of public safety.”
Timilty says that the seeds for his career in public service were planted in his youth.
“I think my exposure very early in government and in public service and in elections was beneficial to me, and I saw the very good things that government is able to do,” he said. “It’s people relating to people.”
Beacon Hill Roll Call reports that in the last legislative session, Timilty voted with leadership 80.9 percent of the time, the lowest percentage of any Democrat, and one measure of his independence.
“I figure I’m good for one oath,” Timilty said, “and that’s to represent the people of my district.”
Timilty is proudest of the work he’s done as chairman of the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security, where he has worked for enhancements to the 911 emergency response system.
“There’s not one of us who doesn’t sleep beneath the blanket of protection that is 911,” he said.
As serious as he is about his role as a public servant, Timilty has a lighter side, too.
In his Statehouse office are conspicuously placed John Kerry and Scott Brown bobbleheads, as well as some of his young daughters’ artwork.
One wall features a framed program from a Golden Gloves exhibition in Dorchester’s Florian Hall featuring a 6-year-old Jim Timilty on the undercard.
When he’s not working, Timilty likes to spend time with his wife and two young daughters, Maryjane and Kaitlin, and occasionally work out at the Y while listening to Springsteen and Elvis.
Timilty respects his opponent, the Rev. Jeff Bailey of Attleboro, and is proud of the civil tone of the race.
“I’ve met Jeff a number of times. He’s a pastor, a gentleman, cordial and very nice,” he said. “I think the way we comport ourselves, it’s a way of encouraging people to get involved. The system gets better when you have maximum participation. It’s the way a race should be run.”
But that doesn’t mean he isn’t in it to win.
Timilty can name the most popular coffee shops in each of the towns he represents because he says he finds them a great place to “meet with voters, look them in the eye and hear their concerns.”
If the voters send him back to the Senate, Timilty says securing local aid will top his to-do list.
“The first and biggest priority would be huddling with the legislative delegation and making sure that local aid is not harmed,” he said.
Timilty said he hopes to continue working toward that goal with the new Legislature in January, which would be his fifth term in the Senate.
“I’ve thoroughly relished my time in the Senate,” Timilty said. “It’s been eight years now, and I’m looking for nine and 10.”