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From a Distance, New Rep Joins Mass. House .: The State House News Service

From a Distance, New Rep Joins Mass. House

Lipper-Garabedian Says Constituents are Worried

Rep. Kate Lipper-Garabedian (right) was sworn in by Gov. Charlie Baker at the foot of the Grand Staircase on Wednesday, a quiet ceremony attended by a few lawmakers and staff while the State House is mostly closed due to the COVID-19 emergency. [Photo: Sam Doran/SHNS]

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, MARCH 25, 2020.....Rep. Kate Lipper-Garabedian's swearing-in ceremony on Wednesday was by all accounts a sign of the daily abnormalities brought on by COVID-19.

Gov. Charlie Baker administered her oath of office on the State House's Grand Staircase, an odd sight for veteran legislators like House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Rep. Paul Donato (D-Medford). Under normal circumstances, the ceremony would have taken place during a formal House session with a great deal of pomp and circumstance.

"You have witnessed a historical moment in terms of being here as a representative and as a speaker. I thought I saw everything … but this is the first time I ever experienced anything like this," DeLeo told the News Service. "We were talking about even doing it in the Governor's Council chamber and people felt that was even too close."

Lipper-Garabedian (D-Melrose), a former Melrose City Councilor, takes over the 32nd Middlesex District seat after Rep. Paul Brodeur resigned last fall to become mayor of Melrose. She received nearly 80 percent of the vote compared to the 18 percent garnered by her Republican challenger Brandon Reid during a special election earlier this month.

During the ceremony, Baker and Lipper-Garabedian were appropriately spaced apart by about six feet while Donato, DeLeo, Sen. Jason Lewis (D-Winchester), and Councilor Terry Kennedy watched from a distance on the staircase.

"I've never seen this before ... I've never seen this in 19 years," Donato, who has served in the Legislature since 2001, said. "These are odd times."

Lipper-Garabedian said she is grateful people found time to attend her ceremony during the crisis. Constituents in the district she now officially represents have reached out over the past several weeks with a number of concerns ranging from family safety to the impact on small businesses.

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state jumped to 1,159 on Tuesday, the largest daily increase to date, while deaths attributed to the virus climbed to 11. Middlesex County, which includes all of Lipper-Garabedian's district, continues to be the leader among other counties in the state with 304 confirmed cases.

"I mean, there's a lot of people who are worried. What I've been able to say to many of them is every day, we're putting in place a more robust framework to address these issues that are happening," she told the News Service in her first public comments as a state representative. "If we don't have an answer right now, let's work together to see if one is coming tomorrow."

As for the rest of the day? Lipper-Garabedian planned to head home to change diapers, play with her kids, answer emails and phone calls, and hopefully eat pork chops for dinner.

"If it's a little bit more of a quiet affair tonight, I still recognize that we're in a really lucky spot," she said as silence returned to the State House halls.


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