34, ENGAGED, MEDFORD
STATE REPRESENTATIVE, MIDDLESEX DISTRICT 34
Sciortino was in his mid-20s when he took on, and defeated, an incumbent fellow Democrat to become a state rep. That was in 2004, in the heat of the marriage-equality battle, and Sciortino, who is gay, found himself very squarely in the line of fire.
How things change: Sciortino recently got engaged to his boyfriend, and the political world didn't even blink.
It does mean that the boyish Sciortino, whom our panelists call "adorable" with a "memorable laugh," is off the market. Sorry, guys. He will, however, continue working on health care, transportation, and constituency issues for his Medford and Somerville constituents.
Job title: State representative, 34th Middlesex District
Held since: January 2005
Marital/relationship status; children; pets: Recently engaged to my boyfriend; one cat named "Kitty."
Originally from: Milford, Connecticut
What you do: I help individuals and families in my community who are facing really difficult situations, and also translate that experience into statewide policy. I do direct constituent services, connecting people to resources for housing, employment, and healthcare. We usually get calls from people who are in desperate circumstances and don't know where else to turn.
I also get to work on passing legislation, and focusing our state budget priorities base on what I have learned from constituents. For example, turning individual calls about foreclosure, into advocacy to pass legislation dealing with banks who have cheated homeowners across the state.
One experience that made you glad to do this work: My first week as a state representative I received a call from a doctor. His patient, a constituent in my district, was a young child who was being denied care by MassHealth. I didn't know this child or his family, but as their legislator I was committed to helping them navigate the bureaucracy. Within a matter of days we were able to get MassHealth to locate the case, evaluate the circumstances, and approve life-saving medication.
Other jobs: My background and area of interest before coming to the legislature was in public health. I worked at Fenway Community Health Center, working primarily on HIV-related research studies. It was actually in the context of connecting research participants to resources, services, and care that I learned some of the skills I now use regularly to advocate for my constituents and help them access the resources they need.
Other activities: Vice Chair of Medford Democratic City Committee; founding member of Progressive Democrats of Somerville; and founding member of the Young Elected Officials Network. I've received a number of awards and recognitions, including "Legislator of the Year" from both the National Association of Social Workers and the Massachusetts Association of School Psychologists.
Path to Beacon Hill: I first ran for office and won in 2004, against a long-time Democratic incumbent. I had been unhappy with his voting record on a number of issues affecting our state. The last straw that led me to decide to run against him was the issue of same-sex marriage. As a young gay person, I could not sit on the sidelines while my legislator voted against equality for me, and for so many of my LGBT peers, so I decided to challenge him for the seat.
Personal style: I think I tend to get along with most people pretty well, and have been told I'm always smiling and seem happy when I'm at work, which is usually true! I also try to appreciate and respect that my colleagues are all coming from different districts, and have different values that they are standing up for.
Favorite thing about working in the State House? I feel a deep sense of connection to the values I was elected to represent. I have a deep passion for social and economic justice, and truly believe that working families are not getting a fair shot at the American Dream in today's economy. Getting to come to work every day, knowing I have the opportunity to influence people's lives in a positive way, is the most rewarding job in the world.
One thing you would change to make State House work more "beautiful": The real beauty in the State House is in the debate, in the democratic process, and in the advocacy of people showing up to express their authentic selves. It is the "people's house." The most beautiful moments for me are when we have a direct connection between the work and the people it impacts. When people engage with their elected officials, when they testify at hearings, and when they show up to rally or protest, I can never get enough of that kind of activism. The State House becomes most beautiful on days that residents show up to engage in the democratic process, even when I disagree on the issues.