Bill first ran for elected office in 1999 because he wanted to help people in the community and because one of his children was diagnosed with a language based learning disability. At the time, Quincy Public School teachers did not have the tools they needed to develop a language based curriculum.
So, he ran for School Committee on a platform of expanding resources for teachers to help students who learn differently. As a member of the School Committee, he kept his promise. Bill worked to put a literacy specialist in every elementary school and pioneered the creation of The Literacy Program, which over 20 years has helped tens of thousands of Quincy Public School students succeed academically.
It was during his time on the School Committee that Bill had the opportunity to demonstrate his courage, tenacity and commitment to the public good when he advocated to find a better location for a proposed new Quincy High School. The city was planning to build the school on a contaminated waste dump. The plans were near completion and had universal approval among city leaders. Although he was a newcomer to city government, Bill was not afraid to speak out against this misguided plan. Bill objected to the selection of the site using scientific data showing that a school built on the chosen site would expose students and teachers to dangerous toxins for generations to come. Because of Bill’s efforts, the new school was built on an alternative, safer site that was centrally located and accessible by public transportation.
After leaving public office, Bill’s reputation for skillful fiscal management led to his appointment as Town Administrator in Holbrook, a position he held for four years. Since that time he has practiced law in Quincy, handling both criminal and civil matters. Always generous with his time, he has quietly helped countless people in large and small ways. Bill has spent many hours coaching youth basketball and baseball, where he had a reputation for motivating his players to excel. He also served on the board of Father Bill’s Place and Mainspring.
Bill and his wife Tracey, a domestic violence counselor, have been married for 32 years and have four children. Following their parents’ example of public service, two of their adult children are special education teachers.
Bill Phelan is the rare combination of innovative and visionary leader who is also results-oriented, practical and fiscally responsible. Bill will bring to the sheriff’s office his passion for serving the citizens of Norfolk County by keeping our county safe. He will earn the confidence and respect of the hard-working professionals in the sheriff’s office as well as recognize the importance of corrections officers by advocating for top-notch training and keeping them safe. And, as a reformer, Bill will bring new ideas to criminal justice reform that support the well-being of inmates and reduce recidivism. Bill Phelan’s lifelong commitment to helping people makes him the sheriff Norfolk County needs now.
Bill was born and raised in Quincy with seven siblings. After graduating from North Quincy High School, where he captained the basketball team, Bill earned a bachelor's degree from Suffolk University and a law degree, with honors, from the Suffolk University Law School. He worked as a counselor for the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services, where he mentored at-risk youth. Bill believes in the power of mentoring to help young people make good choices and he continues to volunteer as a mentor.
Bill’s commitment to the public good inspired him to run for Quincy Mayor in 2001. Bill saw that the city was putting the interests of developers ahead of the people of Quincy. During his three terms as mayor, Bill was a reformer. He introduced zero-based budgeting and eliminated a $5 million budget deficit. He reduced the city’s payroll by 20% through attrition and without layoffs. He created a comprehensive plan for the redevelopment of Quincy’s downtown. He negotiated a new lease with Granite Links Golf Club to give the city a larger share of the club’s gross revenue. His strong fiscal management improved the city’s bond rating.
As mayor, Bill continued his efforts to strengthen the Quincy Public Schools. He increased the school budget, gave Quincy teachers their highest pay raise in decades and hired more teachers to reduce class sizes. He instituted city-wide full day kindergarten. He introduced a new phonetics-based K through 5 curriculum. He created wraparound services, a holistic program to address a range of problems that can become barriers to learning, such as poverty, housing insecurity, abuse and other family stressors.