Boncore poised to leave Senate for life sciences post

Boston Statehouse

BOSTON (SHNS) – Sen. Joe Boncore expects to become the next leader of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, according to multiple people close to the Winthrop Democrat who confirmed Thursday that the senator has been informing close contacts about his plans to leave the Senate.

Boncore, who joined the Senate in 2016 after winning a special election, would succeed Robert Coughlin in the high-profile and high-paying lobbying role for one of the state’s most influential business sectors.

The senator is expected to file an ethics disclosure in the coming days as he enters into salary negotiations for the position, according to multiple people who have spoken with him over the past week.

Boncore’s expected hiring by MassBIO was first reported Thursday by Politico. He could not be reached for comment Thursday, and a MassBIO executive told the News Service the CEO search was “on-going” and the council would not be commenting further.

Boncore would succeed Coughlin, a former state representative and undersecretary for housing and economic development in the Patrick administration. Before Coughlin, the job was held by former House Speaker Thomas Finneran.

The council announced last December that Coughlin would step down in early 2021 after more than 13 years at the helm, and that the group would work with an executive search firm to conduct a nationwide search for its next CEO.

It’s unclear if Boncore would assume Coughlin’s title of CEO and president and his full slate of responsibilities, or if some of the job duties would be delegated to another person.

Chief Operating Officer Kendalle Burlin O’Connell was elevated to become president and COO, and vice president of public affairs Zach Stanley became executive vice president in December as part of MassBIO’s transition planning.

Coughlin, according to the most recent available tax documents, earned a base salary of $586,435 in 2018 and received $245,255 in bonus and incentive pay that year. His total compensation package, including retirement benefits and deferred compensation, exceeded $1,168,000.

Boncore is a graduate of Providence College and the Massachusetts School of Law, and worked as a public defender before joining his family’s law practice.

In the Senate, he chairs the Committee on Transportation and the Committee on Personnel and Administration. His First Suffolk and Middlesex District covers Revere, Winthrop and parts of Cambridge and Boston, including East Boston and the North End.

Potential candidates already being discussed to succeed Boncore in the Senate include Rep. Adrian Madaro, Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo, Revere City Councilor Patrick Keefe, Boncore constituent services director Luigi Natale, former Boncore budget director and candidate for state representative Juan Jaramillo, and Boston City Councilor Kenzie Bok.

Boston City Councilor Lydia Edwards also lives in the district and could run for the seat, though several people involved in district politics said they believed she was focused on a potential run for attorney general. House Ways and Means Chairman Aaron Michlewitz is also not interested in running, insiders said.

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