Friday, March 16, 2007

Q & A With Rep. Rachel Kaprielian

In Feburary, I got the chance to ask my own state Representative (and friend of the blog) Rachel Kaprielian (D-Watertown) a few questions. This was a little different than a normal interview, however, because certain life events took place before I got to ask any followups, but I think that instead of waiting until the interview gets even more stale, I'd post the responses that I do have.

Keep in mind that this exchange took place last month before the Patrick administration unveiled their budget and before Rep. Kaprielian and others hosted Governor Patrick here in Watertown when he announced his reform package for cities and towns here in the Watertown Town Council chambers at Town Hall.

Q: Up until now, you've served your entire career under Republican
governors. What's the biggest difference now that there's a Democrat
in the corner office?

I already feel a real difference in cooperation with the new Governor and his staff. I was very encouraged and heartened by the depth and breadth of experience his cabinet appointees bring to the table, and already they are reaching out to legislators for input. I think we will be better to better examine the Governor's priorities when he files his budget, but I expect there to be more shared values within it than in the past with the Republican administrations.
Q: At the January ConCon, the gay marriage ban passed to live for another vote. What are the chances that it will make the ballot in 2008? What can those who support marriage equality do to stop that from happening?
The January ConCon was indeed the first step in a 2-step process to add language to our state's constitution to define marriage as one man-one woman. No one knows exactly, but it is believed that those legislators (myself included) who do not want to see this language written into our constitution have some ground to cover. So far, of those legislators who "switched" from wanting to add the language to simply letting things be as the SJC ruled, had undergone a change of heart--some sooner, some later. I believe that this matter can be won, but it is through the changing hearts and minds. I also believe that personal life stories told person-to-person by gay people themselves have made a tremendous difference.
Q: You've also gotten some criticism from voting to adjurn the ConCon before a vote was taken on the health care amendment. Why did you do that?
With respect to the Health Care ballot question: While I agree that adequate, affordable health is among the most critical needs in this state and this country, I support the landmark health care plan passed by the legislature last year and it needs to have time, and follow-up to work. It was a herculean effort, and a great and solid first (major) step to deal with the growing problem of the uninsured.
Q: What's your biggest legislative priority for this session?
I have many legislative priorites this coming term-- growing the economy, addressing the critical need for affordable housing, and working to implement the new health care program. However, we must do more for our cities and towns as they grapple with higher costs and shrinking options. That is why I am leading the effort to enable our cities and towns to participate in the state's Group Insurance Commission pool to lessen their costs to provide health care to municipal employees while ensuring nothing less in terms of quality. My hope for that measure to be taken up very soon in the session.
Q: You were challenged for reelection for the first time in many yearslast fall. Has that challenge changed your outlook as a legislator at all?
Having had a spirited contest this past fall, allowed me to more fully open myself up to my constituents-- explain my priorities, my record and my intentions for the future. When I first ran 12 years before, I was 26 and was just starting on my legislative career. Now I am 38, a parent, a homeowner and taxpayer and have 12 years of legislative experience with a record I have been proud of. I was able to reconnect with old friends--plus, meet so many new ones, and much does change in over a decade. Now that I am re-elected, the zeal I have for the job is only augmented.