Former Boston cop plans run to replace Owens-Hicks

A week after State Representative Shirley Owens Hicks announced plans to retire after 20 years of service in the State Legislature, only one Sixth Suffolk constituent has definitively entered the November contest to replace her.

By late Friday evening only William Celester, a retired Boston Police officer and former Area B-2 commander, had drawn papers from the Secretary of the Commonwealth's office. And though Celester drew his papers before Owens-Hicks' announcement, he said his decision to run followed rumors that the incumbent would retire.

"I thought she was doing a great job, and would not be running if people hadn't been talking about her retirement," he said.

Reducing crime, said Celester, will be the epicenter of his campaign and platform.

"We need to be tough on murder and serious crime, and so many things need to be done," said Celester. "But another problem is that young men and women who want to go straight are having trouble doing it because of the CORI law. People who had a record 20 years ago still can't get into public housing or find work."

Celester developed a criminal record of his own in July of 1996 when he was sentenced to two years in prison for taking $29,500 from police accounts while he was Director of Police in Newark, N.J. Celester allegedly used the money, which he later agreed to pay back to the Newark PD, to finance vacations and gifts for his girlfriend.

Celester's sentence was part of a plea-bargain stemming from a much larger indictment that accused him of malfeasance, tax fraud, making false statements, and forging documents. The accusations and subsequent conviction forced Celester to vacate the Director's office, which he had held since 1991 after 23 years in the BPD.

According to Brian McNiff of the Secretary of the Commonwealth's office, conviction of a crime does not bar one from running for office.

Celester said he had not caught wind of any potential challengers, but several names were being floated through the district early this week. Owens-Hicks' brother Bill Owens, Boston Carnival organizer Shirley Shillingford, and former city council candidate Ego Ezedi were all named as potential candidates. By press time, none had returned phone calls from the Reporter.