It seems like only a short time ago that State Rep. Joe McGonagle prevailed in Everett to become the new state representative, but McGonagle is now seeking his fourth term, having pulled papers in February, and he’s running on the experience and strong reputation he has built up over those last three terms.
McGonagle said in an interview with the Independent that he feels like he is in the right place with his committee assignments and the reputation he and his staff have built at the State House. He said he will be touting that on the campaign trail this coming spring and summer – preparing for the September Primary Election.
“With secretaries and commissioners, it takes time,” he said. “It doesn’t happen quickly. It’s really starts happening now, at this point in my service. It’s the respect you get and who you are. It’s funny how things work at the State House, but it’s really about building relationships.”
McGonagle first took office in January 2015, and has been working over the last five years to climb his way into more leadership positions at the State House. He is now the Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Housing, and also sits on the Joint Committees on Health Care Finance and Transportation.
Those issues are all connected, he said, and they are the perfect blend of committees for Everett.
“Housing, Transportation and Health Care Committees are very good committees for me and that’s because they affect the daily lives of Everett residents,” he said. “Housing is the number one issue I face, whether low-income, workforce, and even market rate housing. There just is not enough of it. We’re losing young people that are moving out. There’s no room for them. We have plenty of jobs, but there’s nowhere to live. I feel like in a lot of ways transportation and housing coincide. Transportation has changed. It’s changed how people get to work. It’s generational. Young people don’t want to own a car. They want to use public transportation.”
That’s where McGonagle said experience locally and at the State House are invaluable. Already, McGonagle has been able to expand his staff so that Staffer Dianne Lees keeps office hours at Everett City Hall. That allows McGonagle and his staff to be able to bring information back and forth between the State House.
Having a positive relationship with Mayor Carlo DeMaria, he said, has helped to coordinate support for things involving the MBTA – including the innovative dedicated bus lane and other pilot programs championed in Everett. Having that relationship also helps in advocating in a unified way with the mayor, State Sen. Sal DiDomenico and Gov. Charlie Baker on things like the Housing Choice Bill proposed by the governor. That’s a bill that most everyone believes will help Everett unlock more housing production, but also a bill that is bogged down in the Legislature due to pieces in it regarding local approvals, McGonagle said.
Right now, he said his organization is getting energized for the campaign season, and he is preparing organizing meetings and fundraising times.
More than anything, he said he believes his record and experience is going to speak to voters.
“I was sitting with Rep. Kevin Honan with members of the Senate on a Conference Committee not long ago and just seeing how it all works,” he said. “I did a lot of listening because it was my first Conference Committee, but when you’re in the room and seeing it happening, you get that experience. That kind of experience is invaluable and it takes a lot of time and effort to get into that room.”