Recent Brown graduate fills Story’s seat in Boston

  • State Rep. Soloman Goldstein-Rose, D-Amherst, is sworn in Wednesday. SUBMITTED PHOTO

  • State Rep. Soloman Goldstein-Rose is sworn in with 11 other freshman representatives at the State House Wednesday. Goldstein-Rose, 23, succeeds Ellen Story as the 3rd Hampshire District’s state representative. SUBMITTED PHOTO

For The Recorder
Published: 1/4/2017 11:33:07 PM

An energy jobs bill that would get Massachusetts “to go big” on clean energy technology is at the forefront of legislation new State Rep. Solomon Goldstein-Rose intends to file.

“We can make ourselves the Silicon Valley of the new energy economy,” Goldstein-Rose said in a phone interview from Boston. “That bill will be one of my top priorities.”

Sworn in with 11 other freshman representatives at the State House Wednesday, Goldstein-Rose, 23, succeeds Ellen Story as the 3rd Hampshire District’s state representative, representing the residents of Amherst, Pelham and Precinct 1 in Granby. Story opted against running for re-election after serving since April 8, 1992, when she took her seat following a special election to replace current Senate President Stanley Rosenberg.

For Goldstein-Rose, the swearing-in, presided over by Gov. Charlie Baker and in the front of family and friends, was part of an exciting day that included breakfast and lunch at the state capital, meetings of the Democratic and Republican caucuses and speeches by various state officials and religious leaders

Like other first-time legislators, Goldstein-Rose doesn’t have an office yet, and for the time being will work out of a large room that is dubbed “the bullpen.” The private office will come in several weeks, when committee assignments are made.

But he was given Story’s former seat and table in the House of Representatives chamber — which still includes her name tag — and has his first legislative aide, Catie Rutley.

Goldstein-Rose said Rutley will lead an active constituent service that will include responding to phone calls and emails, and use of both social media, like Twitter and Facebook, and more traditional means, such as newspaper columns, to get information out.

In fact, during the swearing-in, Goldstein-Rose, who graduated from Brown University in June, provided live video of the proceedings.

The swearing-in marks the official start of the new two-year legislative session in which bills are filed by Jan. 20 and then joint committees begin the work of crafting legislation that can be brought to the governor.

Goldstein-Rose’s agenda

In addition to renewable energy, the education funding formula, aid to the University of Massachusetts, addressing the opioid crisis and pursuing criminal justice reform are interests for Goldstein-Rose, along with promoting diversity and inclusion in public schools.

Earlier, Goldstein-Rose said he would file a bill to rename Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples Day, an initiative that came from Amherst Regional Middle School students in 2016.

Goldstein-Rose will be at the Bangs Community Center in Amherst at 2 p.m. Thursday, with Rutley, as part of a tour of the district. Though Rutley will spend most of her time at the State House, Goldstein-Rose said this visit will allow him to show Rutley places in the three communities so she can better understand issues.

A more informal group of friends and colleagues, who live and work in the district, will serve as his advisory council, gathering information that will inform his decisions.

Advice from Story

Meanwhile, Story was at her Amherst home, far away from what she described as the “pomp and circumstance” of the first day of the legislative session.

Story said for Goldstein-Rose, and other new representatives, the key is to listen.

“The main thing for them to do is more listening than talking,” Story said. “They are joining an exclusive club. When you’re in that situation, it is wise to listen.”

She remembers her first day in 1992, coming after a special election, and the veteran legislators sizing her up, making assumptions about her politics and interests based on being the representative for Amherst.

Story, who turned in her keys to her office at 5 p.m. Tuesday, said she will miss some of the people, but not the driving back and forth to Boston and the need to listen to long speeches containing no new information.

She doesn’t regret any of her time as a legislator, though. “It was a wonderful run, the best job in the world,” Story said.

Already, Story has ordered tickets to Fine Arts Center concerts and signed up to take a yoga class.

The special legislative commission on postpartum depression, which she served as House chairwoman, is being renamed in her honor, an idea from her Senate counterpart, Joan Lively.

Though she calls the recognition “so unnecessary,” Story said the commission, formed in 2010 and made up of OB-GYNs, psychiatrists, pediatricians, and Department of Mental Health experts, has made a difference for the estimated 15 to 20 percent of women who have recently given birth who suffer from the mental illness.

Meeting four times a year, the commission raises awareness and makes policy-related advisories on postpartum depression. Insurance now pays for screenings, including Medicaid which began covering last year, and there are near universal screenings.

“It’s a mental illness that can not only be treated, but also cured,” Story said. “It can absolutely make a 100 percent difference in a family’s life.”

But there is still more work to do, as there are not enough places to refer women for assistance and there remains a stigma attached to the diagnosis, even though getting help, Story said, improves the lives of women, their families and their babies.


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