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Mayor Walsh announces new commissioner for Boston Election Department


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Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced Dion Irish as the new Commissioner of the City's Elections Department. Irish, who previously served as the Executive Director of the City's Office of Fair Housing and Equity since 2012, will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Interim Commissioner John Donovan. 

"Dion Irish is a proven leader, with exceptional public service experience," said Mayor Walsh. "Dion's background in anti-discrimination enforcement brings a unique perspective to the Elections Department, and I thank him for his willingness to serve in this critical role." 

"I'm thankful that Mayor Walsh has entrusted me with the responsibility to lead an agency whose performance is critical to the realization of our great democracy, and to the advancement of civil and human rights," said Irish. "I am eager to work with the staff and all stakeholders to continue to the work of the Election Department."

During his time at the Office of Fair Housing and Equity, Irish was responsible for the leadership and supervision of Boston's anti-discrimination enforcement agency, which includes the fair housing and human rights commissions. He led the effort to automate the Office's housing search assistance program to create a more robust database of housing opportunities, and made it possible for interested residents to access services online. Irish also established the inter-agency Boston Lead Paint Initiative to protect children and families from lead exposure and housing discrimination, a CORI Rountable to expand employment opportunities for persons with past crimes and a regional fair housing network to share best practices and for mutual support. Deputy Director of the Office of Fair Housing and Equity Janine Anzalota will become the Interim Executive Director.

Prior to his most recent role, Irish was the Assistant Commissioner and Director of Housing Inspections at the City's Inspectional Services Department for more than a decade. Irish was the 2014 recipient of the Municipal Research Bureau Henry L. Shattuck Award for individuals who exemplify integrity, initiative, leadership and commitment to excellence in public service. In 2012, he helped to create the Boston Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance and Program - an innovative method of proactively ensuring safe, healthy housing for Boston residents - and won the 2012 Innovation Award from the National Association of City and County Health Officials for developing the first ever Massachusetts Housing Inspection Training Program. That same year, Irish won the 2012 Presidents Award from the Massachusetts Health Officers Association, for dedicated service in public health. In 2008, he received the Innovation Award from the National Association of City and County Health Officials for developing the Breathe Easy at Home Program, which created a partnership between the medical and public health fields to better address children with severe asthma. Irish is a current board member of the Madison Park Development Corporation, former President of the Antigua Barbuda Association of Boston and a former board member of the Angell Street Improvement Association. 

Irish received a Master of Urban Affairs from Boston University and a bachelors of science in political science from Boston University, and is a candidate for a Master of Public Administration from Suffolk University. He resides in Dorchester. 

The Election Department conducts all municipal, state, and federal elections within the City of Boston. The Department ensures that elections are properly managed and conducted in accordance with City, state, and federal laws. The Department also handles the registration of voters, proper maintenance of voters' status and manages the annual listing of Boston residents age 17 and over.