Over the last few years, our sense of idealism has fragmented. Between hearings, trials, leaks, and exposes, it was hard to maintain a grasp on our hope for a better tomorrow. We watched as our nation’s capital was stormed and defaced. We watched shouting matches in the pool of the House of Representatives. The darkest elements of politics were exposed and amplified, while the voices of our true leaders were silenced. Politics were demonized and the leaders of our municipalities, states and nation were pegged as corrupt and greedy. But my entire perception of the people behind politics changed this summer when State Representative Jenny Armini honored me with the opportunity of interning in her office.
When I started at the State House, I didn’t have any hands-on experience in politics, so my only expectations were the personalities I had seen in the news. Yet in my first 45 minutes in the State House, every stereotype I had known to be true was immediately disproved. The conduct that I saw between legislators was admirable. Each respected the other out of a recognition of intelligence, kindness, dedication and civic value. It was refreshing to see a place where our elected leaders held such poise and pride. I knew that with Jenny Armini as my representative, I was in good hands.
The state of Massachusetts holds both in person and virtual hearings for constituents to testify on bills to their respective committees. During my first week, I was able to attend a hearing for the Environment and Natural Resources Committee, which Rep. Armini sits on. Between paper mache jellyfish demonstrations and criticism of the pharmaceutical industry, each lawmaker listened intently to their constituent, holding their message close and internalizing their positions.
These hearings are a civic opportunity, a chance for us to engage in the crafting of policies that change our lives, and our elected officials are eager to participate alongside us.
Over the summer, Rep. Armini’s legislative aide was Liam Morehead. Liam is an incredibly intelligent aide and valued mind across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. One of Liam’s responsibilities was managing constituent services, and throughout the summer, the office received many phone calls, from inside and outside of the district that Liam answered and handled with poise. Whether it’s jotting down a complaint or support for any given bill, assisting an angry constituent or someone who needed emergency assistance and connection to other governmental agencies, Liam was there to hear and address every constituent’s needs. (Liam has since moved on to work with Congressman Seth Moulton.)
And of course, I would be remiss if I did not write about the incredible Jennifer Balinsky Armini. Our state representative is a superhero — adored by her colleagues, she is a respected representative, just one term in. Everyone in the State House knows Jenny and greets her in passing with a wide smile. On any given day that passerby could be the chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means, the lieutenant governor or an adorable Girl Scout troop from her district. Her reputation as a public servant, strong leader and dedicated activist is known in the State House, and travels back home with her as she shifts from a powerful political figure on Beacon Hill to a beloved member of the Armini family and a cherished leader of the 8th Essex District.
I consider myself deeply lucky to have experienced Liam and Jenny’s grace, kindness and dedication this past summer. They have empowered me and restored my faith in government. Each one of Jennifer Armini’s constituents is blessed to have a superhero representative.