MetroWest Daily News: New legislators are sworn in on Beacon Hill

By Paul Crocetti/Daily News staff

BOSTON – Mindful of history and responsibility, new state legislators took the oath of office at the State House yesterday.

State Rep. Kate Hogan, D-Stow said she was overcome with emotion when she walked onto the House floor and saw her name on a desk. Hogan had requested and received the chair used by Patricia Walrath, the representative she succeeded in the House.

“That was kind of moving,” said Hogan, surrounded by supporters in a State House lobby. “It’s really been a tremendous day.”

State Rep. Carolyn C. Dykema, D-Holliston, said she was hit with a great sense of responsibility when she entered the House chamber.

“It makes you realize this is truly part of history,” Dykema said.

Dykema, Hogan and other legislators brought family and friends to the State House, packing the floor and the galleries.

The first day’s business of the 186th General Court involved a number of formalities and traditions.

The House re-elected Salvatore F. DiMasi, D-Boston, to the position of speaker, while the Senate chose Therese Murray, D-Plymouth, to again serve as its president.

Gov. Deval Patrick administered the oath of office to legislators.

In his remarks to the House, Patrick gave a special welcome to the newest members.

“More and more people are looking to their government for help,” said Patrick, with Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and other leaders listening behind him. “It’s going to be quite an adventure. These are challenging times indeed.”

State Rep. Danielle W. Gregoire, D-Marlborough, said she enjoyed the historic nature of the first day.

“It’s an amazing thing. Sometimes you only see this,” Gregoire said on her way to a gathering, pointing to the hallways of the State House, indicating sometimes people will look at the walls but not consider the history behind them. “You don’t think of what came before.”

Earlier in the day, Gregoire was in the speaker’s office, looking at historic photographs.

Recalling the history of the State House made the day emotional for state Sen. James B. Eldridge, D-Acton. Eldridge, in his first day as a senator after six years as a representative, said he got his start in public service by working for former state Sen. Robert Durand, a previous holder of the Middlesex and Worcester seat. Eldridge also worked for former state Sen. Pamela Resor, whom he replaces in the Senate.

“I’m really honored to be succeeding them,” said Eldridge, who earlier in the day cast his first vote, for Murray as Senate president. “It’s something I’ve worked toward for a long time.”

But now legislators know there is a lot of work ahead.

With talk of more cuts in local aid, Eldridge said he is hoping the state can preserve the Chapter 70 formula, which supplies education funding for communities.

Eldridge is looking forward to serving in the Senate. In a smaller body, the former representative said, it is easier for individual members to bring about change.

Gregoire is getting ready to file bills by next week’s deadline, including a financial literacy bill that could help teach high school students lessons such as balancing a checkbook. Stephen LeDuc, whom Gregoire succeeds in the House, previously presented the idea.

“That’s going to be a huge piece of legislation, especially in this climate,” Gregoire said.

Hogan is hoping to be involved in economic development and housing issues early in her time as a legislator. Before the committees and permanent offices are assigned within about a month, Hogan has been busy setting up her temporary workspace on the fourth floor with the other new representatives.

“So we can hit the ground running,” Hogan said.

Dykema has been meeting with town officials and plans to continue the dialogue.

“It’s really full speed ahead,” Dykema said. “With the challenges we’re facing, we need to be working together.”