Two months after winning their seats, the region’s seven new lawmakers are gearing to start working on issues ranging from the high cost of health care to advocating for local aid.
“It’s been a terrific year and it was a great experience campaigning,” said state Senator Joan B. Lovely, a Salem Democrat elected in November to succeed veteran Peabody Democrat Frederick E. Berry in the 2d Essex District. “I’m just thrilled the voters trusted me to put me in this office and I can’t wait to get going.”
Lenny Mirra, the new state representative in the 2d Essex House District, is equally energized about his new role.
“It’s the most exciting thing I’ve ever done. I’m very much looking forward to it,” said the West Newbury Republican, who had not run for office before his successful campaign to succeed retiring West Newbury Democrat Harriett Stanley.
Lovely and Mirra are among three new senators and four representatives from the north of Boston area who officially began their tenures when they took their oaths of office on Wednesday.
They have yet to be assigned their committees, but for the freshmen lawmakers, the start of the session marked a chance to begin acting on the ideas they championed during their campaigns.
“I am really looking forward to getting to work on getting civic education back into the schools,” said state Representative Diana DiZoglio, a Methuen Democrat who highlighted that goal in her successful campaign in the 14th Essex District.
She said her immediate agenda also includes making sure she is in contact with the constituents in her district — which includes parts of Haverhill, Lawrence, Methuen, and North Andover — and hearing their concerns. DiZoglio succeeds David Torrisi of North Andover, who she defeated in last year’s Democratic primary.
State senator Kathleen O’Connor Ives, a Newburyport Democrat, said she will be finding out her committee assignments in the coming weeks, “but I am interested in working on economic development, transportation, and higher education issues.”
Ives, who won the 1st Essex seat that had been vacant since Methuen Democrat Steven Baddour resigned in April, said she will also be addressing issues and concerns that local officials and residents have raised.
“I am looking forward to serving and getting to work,” said Ives, who was a Newburyport city councilor until resigning her seat effective Jan. 1.
Her district includes Amesbury, Haverhill, Merrimac, Methuen, Salisbury, and part of North Andover.
Local aid will be a high agenda item for Mirra, who represents Georgetown, Groveland, Merrimac, Newbury, Rowley, West Newbury, and parts of Boxford and Haverhill.
“Our cities and towns are having a hard time making ends meet,” he said. “They are either forced to raise taxes or forced to lay off teachers and cops. We are going to try to get local aid funding to where it used to be.”
Lovely, who resigned her Salem City Council seat effective Jan. 1, said she plans to work with her five communities — Beverly, Danvers, Peabody, Salem, and Topsfield — on their priority concerns.
She said for Danvers, for example, that will mean working with officials to find permanent housing for the families housed in Danvers motels. A key issue for her in Salem, she said, will be working to ensure that the future use of the Salem Harbor Station power plant site generates the same amount of tax revenue.
Moran, who could not be reached, is president of the Lawrence City Council. He won the 17th Essex House seat that had been held by Paul Adams, an Andover Republican. Adams lost a bid to unseat state Senator Barry R. Finegold, an Andover Democrat, after being redistricted from the 17th Essex.
Gordon was elected to succeed retiring Burlington Democrat Charles A. Murphy in the 21st Middlesex, which includes Bedford, Burlington, and part of Wilmington.
One of his priorities is to broaden access to mental health care, Gordon said, “especially in light of what happened at Sandy Hook,” referring to last month’s shooting rampage in Connecticut. Another is to advocate against cuts to MBTA transit service in the region.
Gordon said he also wants to make sure the district receives adequate educational funding from the state “including the provision of additional funds for children of military families stationed at Hanscom Air Force Base.”
Barrett won the race to succeed now retired Lincoln Democrat Susan C. Fargo in the 3d Middlesex District, which includes Chelmsford. His election marks a return to the senate for Barrett, who as a Cambridge Democrat served from 1988-95. “I’m psyched. . . . I feel full of ideas and ready to contribute,” he said.
Barrett said promoting measures to protect the environment is one area on which he plans to focus his attention.
“I just returned from three weeks in Australia and they are miles ahead of us in terms of environmental awareness,” he said. “Seeing that up close for 21 days makes me think that Massachusetts could do much more to save on energy costs and spare all of us some expense in so doing.”
Health care also will be a priority concern, he said, noting that while the state has accomplished the goal of having nearly everyone insured, it has yet adequately to address the need to control health care costs.
Even before being sworn in this week, the new area lawmakers started gearing for their new roles, including attending new legislator academies offered last month — one for representative-elects at UMass Amherst and one for senators-elect at the State House.
The lawmakers have also hired or are in the process of naming their aides, and are making contacts with municipal officials, business leaders, and others in their districts.
“I plan on being in the district quite a bit,” Lovely said. “Constituent services is really a huge part of the job. . . . I’ll be around a lot.”