Watertown Councilor Devaney Set to Retire

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Marilyn Devaney
Marilyn Devaney

By Thomas C. Nash

Mirror-Spectator Staff

WATERTOWN — Marilyn Devaney, who has served on the Watertown Town Council since it was created in 1981, announced last week she was pulling out of a race for council president and that she will retire from the body in December.

In an interview, Devaney said she wanted to spend more time with her family while remaining on the Governor’s Council, where she has served six terms.

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Before withdrawing her nomination papers, Devaney said, “I went up to my daughter’s house. I hugged her and she said, ‘Good Mom, I’m so happy.’”

While on the Town Council, Devaney had long advocated for the Armenian American community. She said she would continue to advocate for Armenian causes as a member of the Governor’s Council.

In 2007, Devaney worked with activist David Boyajian to remove the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) “No Place for Hate” program from Watertown after it was discovered the group does not recognize the Armenian Genocide and in fact has lobbied against the adoption of Genocide resolutions in Congress.

The resulting controversy led to 12 other Massachusetts municipalities withdrawing their support.

Most recently, Devaney submitted a proclamation to the Town Council in April urging President Barack Obama to seek Turkey’s recognition of the Genocide.

“Marilyn Devaney knew about the Armenian Genocide long ago and even knew survivors,” Boyajian said in an e-mail. “She attended April 24 Genocide commemorations many years before it became popular for some other elected officials to do so.”

Boyajian also pointed out that her Town Council resolution on the Armenian Genocide called for reparations and territory from Turkey, which he called “groundbreaking.”

In the past two years, Devaney’s accomplishments in Watertown as well as the state, both in terms of Armenian and municipal issues, would often take a backseat to her personal life. Devaney was increasingly scrutinized in the media, especially after a 2007 incident in which a beauty shop employee alleged Devaney attacked her. Though Devaney was cleared of all charges, she expressed her frustration that the incident remained part of a whisper campaign against her.

Devaney narrowly won re-election that year after the results were contested by candidate John Donohue, who lost by six votes.
While Devaney will be leaving the Town Council after December, she stressed that she will keep office hours as a Governor’s Council member.

“I don’t want people to be discouraged from calling me,” she said. “I have the same enthusiasm as the first day I ran for office.”