This is the first of a series of interviews The Concord Bridge is conducting with our state legislators. Interviews with State Representatives Simon Cataldo (D-14th Middlesex) and Carmine Gentile (D-13th Middlesex) will follow.
State Senator Michael J. Barrett (D-Third Middlesex) describes himself as a “child of Camelot” whose passion for public service was first awakened by the idealism of John F. Kennedy. Barrett has represented Concord, as well as Bedford, Carlisle, Chelmsford, Lincoln, Waltham, Weston, and a large part of Lexington and Sudbury since being elected to 2012. He also served an earlier stint as a state senator for Cambridge and as a state representative for his hometown of Reading.
Barrett likens his work as a state senator to being a jack-of-all-trades, handling everything from individual complaints such as frustration with commuter rail and bus service,to going to bat for local businesses, for instance, helping Plug Power, a Concord based supplier of green hydrogen, bid for special storage incentives, and legislating on climate change as the Senate’s chair of the Climate Policy Committee.
Barrett is coauthor of the Legislature’s groundbreaking 2022 climate change law. In accord with that law, Concord is one of ten communities that is participating in a pilot demonstration to test the feasibility of a ban on the use of fossil fuels in all new construction: residential or commercial. The other municipalities are Cambridge, Newton, Brookline, Lexington, Arlington, Lincoln, Acton, Aquinnah, and West Tisbury. Those bans are not yet in place. Although the 2021 Town Meeting approved a new bylaw banning fossil fuel in new construction, Concord needs the state legislature to approve its home rule petition to go forward.
Barrett notes that trust in local government remains high, even as faith in the federal government declines. He attributes this to citizen groups, such as Mass Energize, Cooler Concord, Concord Climate Action Network, and ISO New England, seeing that their participation makes a difference in setting town and state policy.
Barrett serves as Senate Chair of the Legislature’s Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy. Before that, Barrett served as Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities. That committee oversaw programs for poor women, abused and neglected kids, troubled teens and people with physical and intellectual challenges.
Barrett and spouse Nancy Dolberg have twin daughters and live in Lexington.
Sen. Barrett can be reached to discuss problems or policy through his assistant, Evie Hobbs at firstname.lastname@example.org.