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Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts, BC Alum Karyn Polito Talks Career and Service

One of the first tests of the Baker-Polito administration was finding a solution to the public safety and economic crisis that arose in January 2015 due to the North American blizzard, according to Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts Karyn Polito.

“We had to call upon as many subject matter experts to help us, including the National Guard … and we had to call upon New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York to send up their guard to help us,” Polito said. “Little did we know in our start to governing that that would be our first test, and it certainly wouldn’t be our last test.”

Polito, BC ’88, spoke about the high points and struggles of her career journey at a virtual event hosted by Boston College Republicans and BC’s Network of Enlightened Women chapter on Monday night.

After graduating law school, Polito said she began her career as a lawyer in her hometown, Shrewsbury, Mass. She started as a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals, where she became involved in discussions around policy and community impact.

“I just loved what was happening in this volunteer space on the Zoning Board of Appeals, and someone said you should run for a seat on the board of selectmen,” she said.

In campaigning for a seat on the board of selectmen, Polito said she personally amassed the most votes.

“I raised $10,000 and literally knocked on almost every door in the community with my soon-to-be husband, and I was the top vote-getter,” Polito said.

A few years later, Polito said a seat in the Massachusetts House of Representatives opened in her community with no opposition. She went on to serve in that role for 10 years.

“I had an incredible experience learning the legislative process and working in areas very impactful to my community, but also led the effort to pass Jessica’s Law, which was an effort to bring better protections for children abused by violent offenders,” Polito said.

Polito now serves as the co-chair of the STEM Advisory Council and the chair of the Governor’s Council to Address Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence. As lieutenant governor, Polito said she is able to advance legislation and lead efforts to provent domestic violence, child abuse, human trafficking, and child expolitation.

Polito said one of her main priorities is making all 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts stronger and better places to work. She said she and Baker have been able to build up the rainy day fund—or emergency fund in case of an economic downturn—to the highest it has ever been in the history of the Commonwealth at over $4 billion.

“Having that fiscal responsibility, that focus, on making sure the budget meets the needs, but that we’re not overtaxing or overburdening the business or individual taxpayers in this Commonwealth has been a principle of [the] administration and is clearly a principle of the Republican Party,” Polito said.

Polito said another principle of the Republican Party is to encourage individuals toward higher paying and more impactful jobs.

“Another tenet of what we believe in as a Republican [Party is] to empower individuals with education [and] with skills to be able to work hard, earn it, earn your way forward, and have a good quality of life,” she said.

At the end of her talk, Polito said she credits her success as a politician to the values she learned at BC.

“I do credit my time at Boston College that reinforced in my mind that service matters, that you need people who care about their community, who care about other people, who are empathetic, and that will carve out time in their lives to be intentional about making a difference in people’s lives,” Polito said.

Featured Image by Lydia Boer / Heights Staff

March 2, 2022