The state senator representing Salem has been named chairwoman of a Beacon Hill committee just a month after being sworn in to her first term in office.
State Sen. Joan Lovely (D-Salem) announced on Tuesday that she has been named chairwoman of the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse.
Lovely was elected to the Second Essex District seat in the state Senate in November, filling the seat that was held by Sen. Frederick Berry for 30 years. Lovely emerged on top of a field of four Democrats in the September primary and beat Republican Richard Jolitz of Beverly in November.
Before being elected to the state Senate, Lovely was a 15-year member of the City Council and most recently was its president.
Her departure set off one of the most interesting — or, depending on your point of view, embarassing — episodes in recent Salem political history. It took a bitterly divided City Council 302 ballots and more than seven hours to choose William Legault to serve out the remainder of Lovely's term.
Professionally, Lovely is an attorney and real estate agent.
As chairwoman of the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Lovely said she plans to work directly on state practices and policies to help residents deal with mental health and addiction issues. Already, she said she has taken "several phone calls" from officials and professionals in the mental health and substance abuse fields and plans on meeting with others soon.
“There’s a lot of good work to be done in the areas of mental health and substance abuse, and I’m eager to join the effort,” she said in her written announcement of her committee assignments. “Addressing addiction and quality care for mental health are important parts of having good overall public health.”
In all, Lovely was assigned to seven committees by state Senate President Therese Murray, including Vice-Chairwoman of the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs.
Lovely will also be a member of the following committees: Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts, and Cultural Development; Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Businesses; Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure; Joint Committee on Public Health and Joint Committee on Election Laws.
“This is an important step in the legislative process,” Lovely said in her announcement on Tuesday. “I’m more than ready for all the work the seven committee assignments will bring.”