When Senator Anthony Petruccelli announced he would resign from office in January sent a shock wave through East Boston as the community felt they were losing a very effective political leader and advocate on Beacon Hill.
For 17 years Petruccelli represented the community, first as a State Representative and later as a State Senator, and blended great political instincts with a knowledge of Beacon Hill politics, policy and procedure.
For this Senator Petruccelli is the 2015 East Boston Times – Free Press Man of the Year.
Petruccelli, a lifelong East Boston resident from Jeffries Point, got his start in politics as the late Mayor Thomas Menino’s neighborhood liaison to Eastie and was first elected during one of the neighborhood’s most hotly contested state representative races in 1999.
As a young state rep, Petruccelli immediately became a student of Beacon Hill politics and quickly became an effective legislator. Petruccelli’s personality and likability allowed him to easily navigate the halls of the State House and form partnerships and gain the trust of allies in the House that helped his hometown.
For Petruccelli, Eastie came first and his years in the House were spent fighting to make Eastie a better place to live, work, do business and raise a family. With waterfront development in its infancy, talk about expanding greenspace and schools that needed more, Petruccelli laid the groundwork for many projects, institutions, parks and schools that exist today.
In 2007, Petruccelli was elected to the State Senate in a special election and quickly became a mentor to his successor, first former State Rep Carlo Basile and then Rep. Adrian Madaro. Petruccelli’s experience and tenure at the State House helped solidify a unified front with his colleagues in the House to further Eastie’s agenda in budgets and program funding.
A studious legislator, Petruccelli was known to digest complex bills and incentives before lending his support or opposition–always with how Eastie could benefit in the back of his mind.
Petruccelli quickly rose through the ranks in the Senate and chaired the coveted Committee on Financial Services and then was appointed the Senate’s Majority Whip by Senate President Stan Rosenberg.
One of his first major pieces of legislation back as a state rep was the Air Quality Initiative that forced Massport to bring its fleet of vehicles into the 21st Century. The legislation forced Massport to begin changing its fleet to vehicles that produced less emissions.
He also drafted an amendment in the Environmental Bond Bill while in the House to begin a comprehensive Logan Airport Health Study to show the affects airport operations have on surrounding communities. The study, released in 2014 found that in adults, COPD was statistically significantly higher for residents who have lived three or more years in the high exposure area. The study also found that children in the high exposure area were three-to-four times more likely to report asthma-related symptoms compared with children in the low exposure area.
He also formed the Massachusetts Beach Commission, which he chaired with Senator Jack Hart, while in the House. The commission was tasked with finding ways to improve beaches from Nahant to Hull and make them more accessible and enjoyable for residents and families in the area.
As senator, Petruccelli began to aggressively tackle the issue of substance abuse here and throughout his district. Petruccelli formed a drug task force and sponsored meetings and forums to begin a serious conversation about the issue and how to better address the scourge of substance abuse in the communities. The East Boston Substance Abuse Task Force (EBSATF) worked with representatives from the Boston Public Health Commission, Department of Health, MOAR, Gavin Foundation, East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, North Suffolk Mental Health, North Shore Recovery High School, Ostiguy Recovery High School and many many more to share the services offered to those in need.
In his final interview with the Times, an emotional Petruccelli said he’s thoroughly enjoyed his time serving the district and thank his supporters on behalf of himself, his wife, Alessandra and his two children, Alexa and Anthony.
“It has been an incredible 17 years working at the State House,” said Petruccelli. “Alessandra and I have made so many friends throughout my district over the years and going to work everyday at the state house representing this district and its people has truly been a unique experience. To think that so many thousands of people put their faith and trust in me to represent them is an honor that I will carry with me wherever I go.”