Thomas J. O’Connor

Thomas Joseph O’Connor Jr. (July 27, 1925 – September 13, 1996) was an American politician who served as mayor of Springfield, Massachusetts.

American politician
Thomas J. O’Connor

O’Connor c. 1953
Mayor of Springfield, Massachusetts
In office
1958–1961
Preceded by Daniel B. Brunton
Succeeded by Charles Ryan
Hampden County, Massachusetts Commissioner
In office
1981–1996
Preceded by Richard S. Thomas
Succeeded by Abraham Kasparian
Member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives from the 5th Hampden District
In office
1953–1958
Personal details
Born July 27, 1925
Springfield, Massachusetts
Died September 16, 1996(1996-09-16) (aged 71)
Springfield, Massachusetts
Political party Democratic
Occupation Lawyer

. . . Thomas J. O’Connor . . .

O’Connor was born on July 27, 1925 in Springfield. He was one of seven children of milkman Thomas J. O’Connor Sr. and grew up in Springfield’s Hungry Hill neighborhood.[1] O’Connor was part of a large family, he had more than 50 cousins that lived in the Springfield area, many of whom worked on his campaigns. His relatives included the O’Connor, Moriarty, Fitzgerald, and Martinelli families of Springfield. Never married, O’Connor lived in Springfield with a brother and two sisters.[2]

O’Connor attended Springfield Classical High School, where he won class president. He received a four-year scholarship to Amherst College, where he also served as class president. He went on to attend Georgetown University Law School on a scholarship.[3] In 1951 O’Connor became associated in a law firm with his brother Bernard, cousin S. Thomas Martinelli, and former Hampden Counrt District Attorney Thomas F. Moriarty. Moriarty was O’Connor’s political mentor and Martinelli worked as O’Connor’s campaign manager when he ran for U.S. Senate.[1]

O’Connor began his political career in 1952 as a candidate for the Massachusetts House of Representatives seat in the 5th Hampden District. He finished first in the fourteen candidate Democratic primary, which was tantamount to election.[1]

In 1957, O’Connor swept all 68 of the city’s precincts to defeated 12-year incumbent Daniel B. Brunton for the Democratic nomination for mayor of Springfield.[1] He then beat Republican C. Clement Easton 31,561 votes to 20,826 in the general election. At 32 years old he was the youngest mayor ever elected in city history.[4]In 1959 he easily defeated Brunton in a primary rematch 21,975 votes to 6,630 and Republican Paul E. Affleck and Brunton, who ran as an independent, 39,409 votes to Affleck’s 11,424 and Brunton’s 1,910.[5][6] During the campaign he received the endorsement of The Springfield Union, a Republican newspaper.[1]

During his tenure as Mayor, O’Connor oversaw a downtown road system and urban renewal project that received $3 million in federal funds. Due to these funds he was also able to lower the city’s tax rate.[1] In 1959 the University of Massachusetts‘ bureau of government research named Springfield “the outstanding city in the Commonwealth”.[3]

. . . Thomas J. O’Connor . . .

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. . . Thomas J. O’Connor . . .

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