Area reps express optimism about new House speaker Mariano

  • Speaker Ronald Mariano addressed his colleagues Wednesday afternoon after being elected leader of the House. STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE/SAM DORAN

Staff Writer
Published: 12/31/2020 12:59:33 PM
Modified: 12/31/2020 12:59:23 PM

NORTHAMPTON – Rep. Ron Mariano, D-Quincy, was elected speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives by a 123-31 vote Wednesday. As for what this will mean for western Massachusetts, area representatives had positive things to say about the man who has ascended to one of the most powerful positions in state government.

Before assuming the role of speaker, Mariano was the House majority leader, and Rep. Mindy Domb, D-Amherst, praised him for his accessibility.

“He’s also been very honest and direct,” said Domb. “I don’t have to interpret something.”

Domb also said that under Mariano, each representative will have an opportunity to make their case and be heard.

Mariano succeeds Robert DeLeo, D-Winthrop, the longest-serving speaker for Massachusetts at 12 years. DeLeo stepped down Tuesday to take a job at Northeastern University.

“This is actually a fairly historic moment,” said Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa, D-Northampton.

She also noted how DeLeo reflecting on his career in his farewell speech, and the cost it’s had on himself and his family, gave her a moment of pause and reflection as well.

And Domb said that in her two years in the House, she’s never felt silenced or pressured by leadership.

“I’ve really liked the speaker,” said Domb, of DeLeo.

Mariano, 74, was elected to the House in a December 1991 special election. He was appointed assistant majority leader in 2009 and majority leader in January 2011 by DeLeo. He represents the 3rd Norfolk District.

Rep. Natalie Blais, D-Sunderland, said that Mariano “always listened” as the majority leader, and has been ready to learn about the communities she represents.

She cited conversations they’ve had on transportation, health care, and economic development that have “produced results,” including Mariano supporting the creation of an Office of Rural Policy, which is currently before the Legislature.

Rep. Dan Carey, D-Easthampton, also spoke of Mariano’s willingness to listen to the concerns of western Massachusetts legislators.

“He’s been someone who’s had an open door,” said Carey.

Sabadosa said that every time she’s talked to Mariano, he’s noted the places he’s enjoyed visiting in Northampton, and she said that it’s good that someone is coming in who’s been to the western part of the state.

Mariano was selected by the Democratic caucus by acclamation on Wednesday, after which he was elected by a vote of the full House. Sabadosa noted, however, that Mariano was gathering votes from members long before.

“That’s the campaign of this,” said Sabadosa. “This is not decided in a day. This is decided over years.”

Sabadosa, Carey, Domb, and Blais all voted for Mariano, with the 31 votes against him coming from Republicans. Independent Rep. Susannah Whipps of Athol also supported Mariano.

“I was very appreciative of Speaker Mariano’s speech,” said Sabadosa, of his first speech.

She said that it was good to hear him talk about economic inequality and racial justice, and the need to have policies that work for the entire state.

“It sounded like he was laying out a pretty robust agenda for us,” Sabadosa said. “He’s going to be looking to pass a lot of very bold legislation.”

Blais noted that that the first issue that Mariano brought up in his speech was broadband in rural communities and bridging the digital divide.

“That is a top priority for me,” she said. “For him to lead with that, it was really something.”

Bera Dunau can be reached at

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