It's Been Eight Great Years

It's been eight years since I first ran for office.

I say "first," because I had never run for any office, local or state, until 1994.

It was, I admit, daunting, scary, and a challenge, considering I had no idea what a State Representative really did. In fact, I'd never been inside the State House.

And I ran as a Republican, having grown up in Iowa where seemingly everyone was a Republican. Of course I didn't know everyone in Massachusetts was a Democrat or that just eight years later the House Republican minority would shrink to just 22 out of 160.

But, you know what? I think I've done a good job for Westfield and Montgomery.

Like everyone else in the State House I'd like to take credit for doing a lot of things. Increasing spending for schools and roads and bridges. For the early retirement act for teachers. For tax cuts. Mental health parity. For a lot of things.

There were some tough votes that no one really wanted to take. But I took a stand and voted my conscience.

When I did something to help the homeless or the immigrants, the criticism hurt. But, I'd do it all over again.

Some things took longer than others-like getting the aircraft tax relief bill on the Governor's desk. About five years. But it went into effect yesterday. Some things never were completed.

But, I haven't kept a laundry list, or a checklist, or any kind of a list of the things I did or voted for. Or the things I didn't do that I should have, or the things I might have voted for but didn't.

I can honestly say that I enjoy the job. Perhaps, I most enjoy answering constituent's questions and solving their problems. Everything from Title V septic tank regulations to the Registry, from unemployment benefits to taxes.

There is always something new. Being thanked and being threatened. Being amazed at the incompetence of some people and the wittiness and intelligence of others. Being surprised at hate mail and people who call me names and discovering that most people treat their politicians with respect.

I also enjoy working on committees, including several special conference committees. I've been on the Insurance Committee all eight years, and I'm also ranking Republican on three other committees--Banks and Banking, Election Laws, and Long Term Debt. You can learn a lot listening to people debate the pros and cons of various laws for hours at a time.

Maybe I should have kept track of how many dinners and breakfasts, meetings and parades, ceremonies and receptions that I've attended. Or the miles I've driven. The car I bought in 1996 is about to turn over 100,000.

I should have kept track of the humorous items. The letter that said, "God loves sinners, even you." Or the visitor who warned me to look out for "invisible rebel angels."

I'm proud of the flag I purchased to hang over the green, and I'm glad I've sponsored the pancake breakfast for the past few years. I've been privileged to meet some pretty special people over the years.

I hope I was able to help you, or that I did something to improve the quality of life in my district and in Massachusetts. I know we didn't always agree on issues; sometimes we had to agree to disagree. And I only remember telling about three people to, well, "get lost," which is not a direct quote.

I'm proud to be able to say that no one challenged me at the polls after that first election.

And, I'm still proud to be your Representative in the Great and General Court of Massachusetts, the oldest continuously operating legislature in the country.

It's been eight great years-of fun, frustration, excitement, enjoyment, satisfaction, disappointment, success, all of the emotions you can think of.

Now, it's time to let someone else take the job. It's time for me to move on to do some of the other things that I want to do.

I told my family last Sunday, and today I'm telling you.

I won't be running for re-election this fall.

But, it's been eight, great years. And I thank you for that.

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