Thomas M McGee Gives His Senate Farewell Speech

Thank you, Madame President and Mr. Minority Leader for the kind words of introduction.

Today is a bittersweet day for me as I say goodbye to all of you and to serving in the Massachusetts Legislature.

While I am excited for the challenges ahead, this building has been a second home for me since I first walked down the halls as a 7-year-old with my father, and over these last twenty plus years my colleagues have been a second family.

Yet, in this moment, in this place that has meant so much to me, I want to begin by thanking my family – my wife, Maria, my children, Thomas and Katherine; my brothers and sister; and my parents who are no longer with us, but whose love and example always guide me, and all my extended family.  You have always supported me, inspired me and encouraged me and I cannot express how much that has meant to me and sustained me through the years.

To my constituents– in Lynn, Lynnfield, Marblehead, Melrose, Nahant, Saugus and Swampscott– since I first began serving in the Legislature in 1995, I have been honored to represent the communities that made up my districts and to give voice to the issues that mattered most to you… to listen to your ideas to make our community stronger, and to advance policies to promote our shared prosperity.

Throughout my years in the Legislature, I have always tried to make a positive difference in people’s lives.  In my new role as the Mayor of Lynn, I hope to continue to make an impact towards positive changes for our entire North Shore region.  Thank you again for the opportunity and the honor to serve as your voice in the Legislature and for all that I have learned from you through the years.

To my former colleagues, in the House and the Senate, both those who are here today and those who are not, your commitment to public service and your passion for working toward solutions to complex issues for the residents of this Commonwealth has been remarkable and I have learned so much from you all. We have shared some great times together, we have weathered some difficult ones. We have been met with challenges and we have led the way to make certain that the values of this Commonwealth are protected.

For more than two decades, I have served in the state legislature, and I truly could not have accomplished all I have without the incredible staff that have been with me along the way.

Matt Hall, Joy Lonergan Foraste, Gabrielle Viator, Frank Valeri, Elana Amaral, Sheri Warrington, Jeremiah Bresnehan, Kerri Kidney, Aimee Weeden, Corinne Petraglia Walsh, Brendan Crighton, Jess Torres, Amanda Richard, Steve Smalley, Robin Ennis, Katie Kass, Meaghen Hamill, Peter Rondeau and the many interns who worked in our office over the years. These men and women have worked tirelessly with me for the people I have represented.  Thank you to all my staff for your hard work, dedication and commitment.

To the people who make the Senate, the House and the State House such an amazing place to work every day–the staffs of the House and the Senate Counsel Offices, the staffs of the House and Senate Clerks Offices, the Court Officers, the Park Rangers, the State Troopers, the Business Offices, the Personnel Office, the LIS staff, the Senate Education Office, and all those whose efforts keep us safe and on track while ensuring that our undertakings are accessible to the public, I thank you all.

While I was not here for John F. Kennedy’s original “City Upon A Hill” address made in this very chamber in January of 1961, it was a very poignant moment 50 years later when we came together as a body to hear the speech.  In his remarks, then President-elect Kennedy spoke of the leadership of our great Commonwealth and the standard we have always held and still hold ourselves to as legislators- leaders not just in this state, but in the nation.

Kennedy said, “Courage–judgment–integrity–dedication–these are the historic qualities of the Bay Colony and the Bay State–the qualities which this state has consistently sent to this chamber on Beacon Hill here in Boston and to Capitol Hill back in Washington.”

I have had the privilege to serve with hundreds of legislators who have stayed true to these standards in order to make a difference for their constituents and for the Commonwealth, who were here because they believe in public service and who have carried forward the ideals that have historically made the government of our Commonwealth an example for our nation.

I have had the privilege to be part of some historic moments here on Beacon Hill. From debating and voting on the death penalty, which was the topic of my maiden speech, to leading the nation to provide healthcare for all citizens;

To establishing the Children’s Caucus to ensure that our most vulnerable citizens are protected and can grow up to their full potential;

To reorganizing the Department of Transportation in the wake of the Big Dig, and enacting Transportation Finance Reform;

We have always debated the issues collegially and worked toward bipartisan resolutions that best serve the citizens of the Commonwealth and uphold our state Constitution.

I will never forget the feeling- the electricity in the air of Constitutional Convention as the vote was called on marriage equality- waiting with anticipation just like the thousands of people filling the gallery,  the halls of the State House, and the streets outside the building and those watching on television across the country.

After casting my vote for marriage equality and hearing the outcome, we did not realize that Massachusetts had not only upheld the values of equality but had also sparked a movement across the country and around the world. I was, and still am, enormously proud to have played a role in ensuring equality for all our citizens.

These high-profile moments highlight the complex matters that come before the General Court and often require us to take a decisive stand for what we believe is right.

But, as I think back and reflect on the past twenty years, I take great pride too in the day-to-day efforts of legislators and staff– working every budget cycle to secure critical funding for afterschool programs, for employment training, for community policing and so many other priorities for our districts and the Commonwealth;

Holding hearings and forums to create open dialogue, whether about education reform or about the need to invest in our roads, bridges and transit system all around the state;

Bringing people together to share a vision for a network of water transportation connecting communities all along our coastline to spur economic development and improve the quality of life for residents of the Commonwealth;

All the stakeholder meetings, public forums, late night sessions, and the floor debates that give us the opportunity to advocate on behalf of our constituents and to advance the issues that matter to them–these day-to-day efforts comprise the work of our legislature just as much as, if not more than, the votes we take.

These are the things that have made this job an honor and that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

I am excited about the opportunity I have to continue to serve my home of Lynn as Mayor, and I look forward to the challenge.  But, I will take with me the spirit of this building, the dedication of this body, and the core belief my father instilled in me that if we are able to make life better for one person, then we have achieved the true meaning of public service.

Thank you.

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