By Melissa Moore-Randall
With the country only weeks away from electing our next President, one local politician will be preparing to step away from politics. RoseLee Vincent, who was sworn-in to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 2014 to represent the 16th Suffolk District, including the communities of Revere, Chelsea, and Saugus, will retire on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. On that day Representative-Elect Jessica Giannino will be sworn into office.
Vincent is currently the House Vice-Chair of the House Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets, a member of the Joint Committees on Revenue and Cannabis Policy, House Chair of the Metropolitan Beaches Commission, and the Chair of the Revere Beach Design Review Board. Before her election to the House in a special election in the Spring of 2014, Vincent worked in the State House for 25 years as the legislative aide and then chief-of-staff to two of her immediate predecessors, WIlliam Reinstein and Kathi Reinstein.
RoseLee is a fourth generation, lifelong Revere resident, and lives on Revere Beach with her husband, Richard. Together, Representative Vincent and her husband raised their two daughters, Wendy and Robin, in the house where RoseLee grew up in the West Revere neighborhood of the city.
As she reflects on her impending retirement, Vincent said, “I will miss the people the most. I have been the State Rep for only nearly seven years, but I have been in the State House and associated with the Office of the State Representative for 31 years. That’s three decades worth of Jack Satter House fashion shows, bocce tournaments on the beach, senior center luncheons, Sand Sculpting Festivals, Paul Revere School Veterans’ Day celebrations, winter splashes into the frigid ocean waters, 100th birthday celebrations, and the list goes on and on. There have been a lot of wonderful moments over the past 31 years and a lot of friendships made with many special people from our community that I will treasure for a lifetime. “
As she prepares to leave Beacon Hill, Vincent has advice for her successor Giannino. “As a Representative, you have to realize that you are 1 of 160 representatives. The State Legislature, as a whole, constantly has to balance dealing with larger, more general issues that impact the entire state. While individual Representatives fight for issues that directly impact the people of their district day-in and day-out. Things do not always move as quickly as you would like or hope. Additionally, I cannot stress enough the importance of being a team player. As they say, “there is no I in team!” Vincent referenced a quote by Harry S. Truman, “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”
Vincent hopes that Giannino will work on meaningful policy that helps to mitigate climate change. “In the six years I have been in office, I have seen firsthand how the threat of rising tides, as well as pollution are affecting the people of Revere, Chelsea and Saugus, and its continuation to cause harm not only to the environment, but to public health as well. I would urge my colleagues in government to heed the call that there is no Planet B.”
Throughout her tenure, Vincent also worked with her Beacon Hill colleagues on legislation to target and support the opioid crisis, minimum wage for workers, paid family and medical leave, a permanent sales tax holiday, first responders, equal pay for comparable work, military personnel, veterans and their families, civics education programs in public schools, legal protections against discrimination related to gender identity, protection of vulnerable residents with developmental disabilities, nation-leading policies designed to promote gun safety, modernize tobacco control, and the landmark Student Opportunity Act.
Through the COVID-19 pandemic, RoseLee joined fellow legislators to enact legislation to extend unemployment benefits, protect public health, and institute landmark provisions for remote voting in the House and mail-in voting for local, state and federal elections held in 2020. The emergency legislation also included one of the strongest moratoriums in the country protecting tenants and homeowners from eviction and foreclosure and creating opportunities for restaurants to serve alcohol, beer and wine for carry out service.
Representative Vincent has been a staunch advocate for environmental justice and a founding member of the Alliance for Health and Environment, a coalition of local officials and regional environmental groups focusing on raising awareness about public health and environmental impacts of waste incineration and associated ash disposal activities, reducing pollution associated with waste incineration and ash disposal, and promoting environmental justice for communities impacted by waste incineration and ash disposal.
Vincent hopes and believes that Giannino will continue to work with the Alliance for Health and Environment on the Wheelabrator Saugus issue. “When I took office, there was no real organized effort in opposition to the Wheelabrator Saugus facility in recent memory. There was no group or elected official that was sounding the alarm on the issue. The first time I ran for office in 2014, a common theme among the concerns of people who live in the Riverside, Point of Pines and in East Saugus was the public health and environmental hazards that came with hosting a trash incinerator. It became clear to me that a voice was needed in this fight. As I reflect on my tenure as State Representative, I am most proud of forging the Alliance for Health and Environment, with respected environmental groups and average citizens fighting to make a difference. During my time in office, for the first time in many, many years, the Massachusetts DEP held public hearings and sought public input when it came to actions pertaining to Wheelabrator. Although the DEP seems to never side with Revere and Saugus residents and there is still a lot of work to be done on this issue, I truly feel that we have moved the needle on this issue. I hope this fight will be picked up where I am leaving off by continuing to push for legislation that will help to bring accountability and eventual closure to the Saugus incinerator and ash landfill..”
When asked about her plans for retirement, Vincent will miss seeing the beautiful beach sunrises since she plans on finally sleeping in. She also added, “Richie and I plan to continue to live on Revere Beach. I look forward to continuing to enjoy walks on shore and the beautiful sunrise/sunsets that come with living on America’s First Public Beach, as well as spend more quality time with our family and friends. I also plan to take art classes, practice yoga, and continue being an active participant in the city that I love. Richie and I will also spend a portion of the winter in Marco Island, a place we love and have been going to for years. Once COVID-19 has subsided, we hope to continue our travels that have been put on hold since the pandemic to all the places we have yet to explore.”