Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

October 25, 2012

Letter: L'Italien stood up, crossed party lines to do what's right

The Andover Townsman

---- — Editor, Townsman:

We support Barbara L’Italien for many reasons -- her work ethic, her solution-oriented approach to legislating, and her tremendous accomplishments during eight years as one of Andover’s state respresentatives. But after two years of stalemate and partisan rancor, the biggest reason we plan to vote for L’Italien is her history of reaching across the aisle to find bipartisan solutions.

L’Italien was first elected in 2002, entering the Statehouse as a Democrat just as Mitt Romney began his tenure as a Republican governor. From the beginning, she made it clear that party politics was not her style. At considerable risk to her political future, Barbara stood up to Tom Finneran as one of the very few Democrats unwilling to rubber-stamp another Finneran term as Speaker. At the same time, she established good relations with the Romney administration, an important reason why she was so successful so early in her career at getting legislation passed that made a difference in her constituents’ lives. This bipartisan approach won her no political favors from Finneran, but they established her as a legislator to be taken seriously.

Her colleagues took note. After only three terms, L’Italien was promoted over many long-time legislators to become Vice Chairwoman of the critical House Ways & Means Committee. She played a huge role in passing a balanced budget at a time when the Commonwealth’s finances were in disarray. Working with colleagues from both parties, she found a balanced solution that included painful spending cuts. She was never under illusion that the spending cuts would be popular -- but just as when she stood up to Finneran to do the right thing, she stood up to croticism within her own caucus, working with Republicans and Democrats to bring sanity and restraint to the state budget.

It’s easy for a politician to seek refuge in the extreme wing of his party, to demonize colleagues from the opposing party, to declare fealty to abstract principles at the expense of common sense and bipartisan solutions. But governing is serious business, one that requires our elected representatives to stand up to their own party and to be willing to work with their opponents. Throughout her career, L’Italien has exemplified the very best qualities that we hope from our state representatives. We hope that you will join us in voting to return Barbara L’Italien to Beacon Hill on election day.

Bob and Annie Gilbert

12 Gray Road