METHUEN – Before a large crowd gathered outside of Methuen City Hall Phil DeCologero announced his candidacy for State Representative of the 14th Essex District.
“I’m someone who has always valued public service and embraced the opportunity to give back to our Merrimack Valley community. I’m asking you to join me in taking this next step to assure credible leadership on Beacon Hill,” said DeCologero to the cheering crowd. Grinning widely were his wife Sara and their 3 year-old daughter Sophia who was holding a sign that read “Daddy for State Rep”.
DeCologero, a member of Methuen Mayor Steve Zanni’s senior staff, submitted his resignation to the Mayor in advance of his announcement. “I am honored by the opportunities given to me by Mayor Zanni to serve the people of Methuen,” said DeCologero. “I am thankful for his guidance and mentorship over these past several years, and I am eager to pursue this new opportunity to serve the Merrimack Valley.”
In speaking at City Hall, DeCologero set forth his desire to expand education opportunities, to work with the Department of Public Health to engage parents on the status of substance abuse and to advocate for increased economic development throughout the Merrimack Valley.
“Whether you’re a parent trying to enroll your child in an early education program, or a student looking at higher education, the price tag can be daunting,” said DeCologero. “We as a state must strive to make quality education available to students of all ages.” DeCologero said he would fight to make early education programs easily accessible so that every student entering Kindergarten begins on a level playing field. “This is about making sure every student starts out on the right foot.”
A graduate of Merrimack College, DeCologero referenced his own experience paying for college. “The amount of debt our students incur can be an obstacle years after graduating,” said DeCologero. “I want us to invest in our higher education system, including our community colleges, so that our young residents continue to have quality, lower-cost options to advance their education.”
On substance abuse, DeCologero emphasized the importance of engaging and educating parents. “Opiate addiction has approached epidemic proportions. Parents are beating themselves up because they wonder if they missed the signs, or if there was something they could have done to prevent their child from succumbing to addiction,” said DeCologero. “North Andover just held a great forum which attracted almost 150 people and educated them on the signs of addiction, and how to address it. This level of engagement should be occurring state wide.”
After speaking in Methuen, DeCologero was introduced to supporters by his campaign Chairman, Selectman Dick Vaillancourt, at North Andover’s Drummond Playground. “So much of what a State Representative does is advocacy,” said Vaillancourt. “I got to work with Phil directly in forming the North Andover Merchants Association and I cannot think of a stronger, more passionate advocate for our families, businesses, and communities.”
DeCologero spoke to the even larger crowd in his hometown about his desire to support responsible economic development throughout the region.
“Whether it is areas along Routes 114 and 125, underutilized mills of Lawrence, or the hungry labor force and many highly skilled workers who call the Merrimack Valley home, our district offers incredible potential for development. I really want to see the State step in as a partner in jumpstarting responsible growth and tapping this potential,” said DeCologero.
DeCologero said that he would embrace a culture of transparency as a State Representative.
“We should be embracing technology to make information as accessible as possible,” said DeCologero. “I am disappointed that the incumbent voted against requiring all bills be online at least 24 hours before a vote, and that she vote against posting all committee votes online.”
At the close of his remarks, DeCologero asked for the help of supporters. DeCologero is challenging freshman state Representative Diana DiZoglio for the Democratic nomination.
“I can’t do this without you,” said DeCologero to volunteers as they picked up clipboards and began fanning throughout the Merrimack Valley to collect nomination signatures. After his announcement at City Hall he knocked on doors in Pleasant Valley in the early afternoon. “Everyone was very welcoming as they recognize we need effective and credible leadership on Beacon Hill,” advised DeCologero.
DeCologero spent the evening meeting voters at the Bradford train station, before treating supporters to a late dinner at Lawrence’s Pizza King. “It’s been a great day,” said DeCologero. “I’m very excited,” smiled the new candidate.