Lynnfield may be a new part of State Senator Tom McGee's district, but the lawmaker has known the town well for much of his life.
McGee, a Lynn Democrat, became the new state senator for Lynnfield following the latest round of redistricting. Prior to that, the town was represented by State Senator Katherine Clark, a Democrat from Melrose.
In fact, during a recent conversation with Lynnfield Patch, McGee recalled that he briefly represented the town back in 2002 when he was first elected to the state senate in a special election to replace Edward "Chip" Clancy. Long before his political career, McGee and his family were also frequent visitors to his grandmother's house on Upton Lane in Lynnfield. There was a farm behind his grandmother's house back then, he recalled, and he had an aunt who lived in town. He also recalled how as a boy he saw the Route 1 overpass bridge being built. "I have a lot of good memories of the town, I'm looking forward to it," said McGee.
Along with Lynnfield, the state senator's district includes Saugus, Marblehead, Nahant, Swampscott and Lynn. One thing about the recent changes, noted McGee, is that his district is now more cohesive, with all of the communities more geographically connected than before. Before his legislative career, McGee was an assistant district attorney in Essex County and a private attorney specializing in workers' compensation law. He is a lifelong Lynn resident, a St. John's Prep graduate, and a father of two.
In the state senate, McGee may be best known as chairman of the Transportation Committee - a position that he said he hopes to retain in the coming session as well.
As transportation committee chair, one local matter that McGee can expect to find himself working on at times is the MarketSteet at Lynnfield project. In fact, last month McGee joined other local officials on the Saugus/Lynnfield line at the water department station on Route 1 to highlight an expanded water pipe that will help sustain the new population and growth that MarketStreet is expected to bring - something he called a "win-win" for both Lynnfield and Saugus.
McGee also reported that two or three months ago, he took a site tour of the MarketStreet project, which is expected to open later in 2013 with a variety of high-profile restaurants, retail merchants and others. He also had some prior interaction with the project last year when nearby abutters filed a complaint about the removal of some trees near Walnut Street.
"I'm looking forward to being helpful in a dual role as chairman of the committee and as state senator," said McGee.
In general, McGee emphasizes that a healthy transportation system is key to the region's growth - and, he reported that he has his eye on several other area transportation issues that affect Lynnfield. For example, McGee hopes to see some sort of traffic solution for the current "jug handle" on Route 1 in Peabody with the traffic light. Further South, he notes that traffic tie-ups at the Route 128/93 interchange can stretch all the way back into Lynnfield, and he also cited Walnut Street as having a particularly dangerous intersection. Another regional traffic headache, said McGee, is Copeland Circle near the movie theater off Route 1 in Revere, also not far from Lynnfield.
Looking ahead, McGee is also interested in the growth possibilities that things like ehanced ferry access to the Boston Harbor Islands, Salem and Lynn could offer. He also cites things like the Fast 14 initiative, aimed at replacing a number of bridges in a relatively short time, as interesting new prospects that could save money and improve transportation infrastructure.
Weighing In On Governor's Budget
Looking ahead to the coming fiscal year and the new legislative session, McGee also predicted that there will be a focus on transportation issues, which the governor has tried to address in his budget plan. "It needs to be a comprehensive statewide plan and it needs to address the current needs of deficit and infrastructure," said McGee, who also said he had heard considerable feedback from constituents concerned about the cost of some of the governor's proposals.
McGee also noted that the state's transportation system is facing a deficit of up to $19 billion, which requires an ongoing discussion about the real needs of the system.
Earlier this month, McGee announced his first constituent service hours for Lynnfield residents. Constituents are also welcome to contact him at Thomas.McGee@masenate.gov or 617-722-1350.