Sen. Joan Lovely
Local Government and Politics, News

Salem senator’s sights set on helping kids

SALEM -- State Senator Joan B. Lovely said her 2021 priorities will build on her top legislative concern -- keeping children safe and improving their lives. 

The Salem Democrat who represents Salem, Beverly, Danvers, Peabody and Topsfield in the state Senate, Lovely has championed child welfare advocacy since her election to the Senate in 2012. She branded child sexual exploitation "a pandemic in its own right," and said she is working through the legislative process with Children's Trust Massachusetts, an organization focused on stopping child abuse, to ensure parents, coaches and other people supervising children recognize abuse warning signs. 

She is also focused on improving local college students' lives. When a father told Lovely his daughter wanted to go to college but could not pass the state comprehensive assessment examination (MCAS) due to a disability, Lovely worked with Salem State University to create opportunities for students with disabilities, like providing aides in classrooms. 

"It's a subject very important to me," she said. 

She praised former North Shore Community College President Dr. Patricia A. Gentile with initiating campus efforts to aid students facing food insecurity. Lovely and fellow legislators rallied to find ways to fight student hunger after Gentile highlighted the concern.

"You can't learn if you are hungry," Lovely said. 

A Salem city councilor for 15 years prior to her run for the state Senate, Lovely served as council president and liaison to the Salem Council on Aging and Commission on Disabilities. 

Her legislative biography lists Lovely's roles, including Assistant Majority Leader; Chair of the Senate and Joint Committees on Rules; and Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Education and the Senate Committee on Personnel and Administration: Chair of the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities; Chair of Mental Health and Substance Abuse; and Chair and Vice-Chair of the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight, which as Chair she oversaw the Commonwealth’s first Public Records reform in more than 30 years.

Small business needs in the face of the pandemic's blow to the economy has been a concern for Lovely during the Legislature's late fall debate on the $46 billion state budget. 

She credited colleagues with identifying revenue sources to erase budget shortfalls, ensuring Salem and other communities receive needed state local aid, including state money to support local public schools, and avoid municipal budget cuts. 

The budget work got done, said Lovely, even though COVID-19 forced legislators to socially distance.

"Working remotely is different but I am pleased we were able to put our focus where it matters," she said. 

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