Class of first-year lawmakers visit Stonehill

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EASTON – Five newly elected state officials recently gathered at Stonehill College to reflect on their freshman year at Beacon Hill.

The event, hosted on November 9 by the Martin Institute for Law and Society, featured state officials Jessica Ann Giannino, D-Revere, (16th Suffolk), Meghan Kilcoyne, D- Northborough, (12th Worcester) , Brandy Fluker Oakley, D -Boston (12th Suffolk), Ted Philips, D-Sharon, (8th Norfolk) and Adam Scanlon, DN. Attleboro (14th Bristol).

Philips, a graduate of UMass Amherst, said he began his political career as a freshman in high school after becoming the senior representative of his class.

“I caught the politics bug in high school, and have had it ever since,” said Philips, whose district includes Mansfield.

Giannino said she was also involved in politics while in high school. Giannino, however, found her political calling at Salem State University, where she became involved with the Student Government Association (SGA) and the Commuter Council.

“I commuted, worked full time, and took seven classes, so I got involved on campus through clubs,” she said.

Giannino said she started her political career outside of school as a Revere At-Large city councilor in 2012 at the age of 20.

Kilcoyne, a history graduate from Stonehill College, said she started her political career a little differently from other panelists.

“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my degree; I knew what I didn’t want to do, ”Kilcoyne said.

The summer after graduating from Stonehill, Kilcoyne began an internship in the office of State Representative Harold Naughton, she said. At the end of the summer, Kilcoyne’s internship turned into a full-time job.

Fluker Oakley, a native of Boston and a graduate of Syracuse University, found his political voice at a young age.

“I organized my first protest in third year and my second protest in fifth year,” she said.

Fluker Oakley said she was drawn to urban education issues and became a third-grade teacher in Baltimore, Maryland, to understand firsthand the impact of the law on education systems. . This, said Fluker Oakley, ultimately led her to enroll in law school at Emory University to learn how to be a better lawyer.

State Representative Ted Philips, D-Sharon, and Adam Scanlon, DN.  Attleboro, are two freshman lawmakers who recently participated in a forum at Stonehill College.

Scanlon lives in North Attleboro and, at 25, is currently Massachusetts’ youngest representative. Its district also includes Mansfield.

“It is a great honor to occupy the same seat that President Martin once occupied,” said Scanlon.

Scanlon got involved in politics as a community advocate at the age of 17, when North Attleboro’s education budget was called into question, he said.

In 2017, Scanlon ran for the school committee against two incumbents and won. He also attended Framingham State University, where he obtained a degree in political science.

Kathleen Currul-Dykeman, Director of the Martin Institute, posed a two-part question to representatives:

What is one thing you have accomplished in the past year that you are proud of and what challenges have you faced as a result of COVID-19?

“I am very proud of the level of constituent services we have provided to people over the past year,” said Philips.

Giannino said she was proud of the ban on single-use plastic bags that went into effect in Saugus in March 2020.

“I am passionate about a promise I made – that I will be able to be an effective advocate for my region,” Kilcoyne said.

Fluker Oakley said she was thrilled to have secured an allocation for essential funding for Smart from the Start, an organization that “promotes healthy development in children and families.”

Scanlon is very proud to have come up with a fictitious bill to develop the workforce and increase the number of workforce and workforce programs available to students, as well as their exposure.

“I had more than 35 people sign the invoice. It’s not the end product, but a tool to get people talking about these issues, ”Scanlon said.

The five panelists shared similar responses regarding the challenges they faced at Beacon Hill due to the pandemic; all identified a lack of face-to-face connection as a key difficulty they encountered.

“We didn’t have a lot of time in person,” said Fluker Oakley.

“It was difficult having to do a lot of this work without face to face interaction,” Kilcoyne added, “and I look forward to the day when we can all be together in the bedroom.”

While Philips echoed the concerns and sentiments of his fellow representatives, he acknowledged that there were some positive aspects of the pandemic, such as how creativity is encouraged and the development of unique bonds and connections.

“This freshman class actually came closer because of the challenges we faced,” said Philips. “We had to work harder to build relationships. “

Jordyn Forte is a journalism student at Stonehill College in Easton.

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