State Senator Joan Lovely addressed dozens of North Shore small business owners on Friday, identifying constituent services and an effort to drop the statue of limitation on child sex abuse as top key focuses.
Lovely, a Democrat from Salem, was elected last November and has been in office for 23 days. She takes over for Frederick Berry, the former Senate Majority Leader who served for 30 years before retiring.
Timely response to constituents is "crucial," she told the North Shore Business Forum as it gathered for breakfast at Danversport Yacht Club.
"My time as a city councilor taught me constituent service comes first," she said, after earlier saying she became involved in Salem city government after her concern about the condition of a neighborhood playground.
Her answer came in response to a question from Forum member Mike Sobol, who asked Lovely what three initiatives she will push as a freshman legislator.
She also credit the time she spent in the State House in 2003 and 2004 working as an aide for the late former State Rep. J. Michael Ruane (D-Salem).
"That helped me understand what is going on at the State House," she said.
Lovely is a 1976 Beverly High School graduate and has lives in Salem since 1980. She spent 15 years on the City Council, most recently serving as its president until her election to the state Senate. She is married and has three adult children.
The state's decision to house homeless families in motels and hotels - including about 400 people in four different hotels and motels in Danvers - is "bad public policy," she said.
Lovely said she would work to end the policy, which Gov. Deval Patrick recently announced would be phased out by June 2014.
The cost of the program - $80 per night per family - is too high.
"If you do the math it is $2,400 a month to put a family in a room with two beds and a microwave," she said. Additionally, it costs Danvers $360,000 per year to bus the homeless children to school in their "home community," she said.
She said she would work with the state representatives "to address what we need for our communities" in the Second Essex District - Beverly, Danvers, Peabody, Salem and Topsfield.
Including the challenges facing Danvers with the homeless families living in hotels and motels, Lovely said that Salem faces challenges as Salem Station power plant closes down and Peabody continues to combat downtown flooding.
"That flooding issue impacts small businesses downtown (in Peabody)," she said.
In Beverly, she said she will work with city officials to continue the effort to construct a new middle school.
Lovely also told the group about the 20-25 miles she logged each week during her successful campaign last year, knocking on more than 6,000 doors. Lovely emerged on top of a field of four Democrats in the September primary and defeated Republican Richard Jolitz in November.
As a small business owner - both as an attorney with Lovely and Lovely and real estate agent with Lovely Realty - she touched on some of the challenges of being a small business owner.
She has not be assigned to a Senate committee yet, but said one of her top choices is the Small Business and Community Development committee.
Click on the attached videos to hear Lovely talk about her education at the Essex Agricultural School, her commitment to have an office open to everyone and her talk about Patrick's proposed fiscal 2014 budget.