Tuftsgraduate and Massachusetts State Rep. Michael Festa has foundthe change in leadership at the State House beneficial to hispolitical fortunes.Medford/Somerville,Mass.
Medford/Somerville, Mass. [04.06.05] When longtime Massachusetts House Speaker Thomas Finneranleft his post and Rep. Salvatore DiMasi took his place, StateHouse fixtures noticed the balance of power beginning to shift.For Tufts graduate and Rep. Michael Festa (D-Melrose), the changingof the guard has given him an opportunity to flourish.
"I'mpart of the conversation. Before, I wasn't invited in the room,"Festa (A'76) explained to his hometown paper, the MelroseFree Press.
Finneran wasviewed by his colleagues as having a tight rein on the power atBeacon Hill, while DiMasi's leadership is viewed as more inclusive.The Free Press reported that Festa was often at odds with Finneran,helping head a group of legislators who often formed a bloc tocounter Finneran.
"Diversityof opinion isolated you," he told the newspaper.
Festa appearsto have benefited from the shift. He has been appointed vice-chairof the Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight,one of just two committees wielding subpoena power.
"I think[DiMasi's] commitment to make [the legislature] more open is genuineand that's gonna help someone like Mike," Melrose Alderman-at-LargePaul Brodeur, who has known Festa since 1986, told the FreePress.
The committeeis charged with making sure the executive branch keeps the spiritof the legislature's intent in mind when carrying out the law.
By virtueof this committee's key role, the Free Press reported, Festa willmove closer to the center of power, becoming more of a politicalinsider and major player in legislative affairs.
Festa firstachieved political office while still an undergraduate at Tufts.In 1973, he won a seat on the Melrose School Committee, comingin second among eight candidates – including four incumbents– in a race for four seats.
"I wassaying, look, you've got this School Committee, and it's ninepeople and not one of them has children in school, or has beenthrough school recently," Festa recalled to the FreePress.
Throughouthis political career, Festa has made his reputation on being anhonest and outspoken legislator, winning the respect of constituentsand colleagues alike. His re-election vote total in 2004 was hishighest number of votes earned yet.
"Youcertainly get your money's worth with Mike," Brodeur, theMelrose alderman, added, "and you know where he stands."
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