Patricia D. Jehlen
|Patricia D. Jehlen|
|Member of the Massachusetts Senate
from the 2nd Middlesex district
October 12, 2005
|Preceded by||Charles E. Shannon, Jr.|
|Member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives from the 27th Middlesex District|
|Preceded by||Alice Wolf|
|Succeeded by||Denise Provost|
|Member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives from the 30th Middlesex District|
|Preceded by||Joseph Mackey|
|Succeeded by||Carol A. Donovan|
October 14, 1943 |
|Alma mater||Swarthmore College
University of Massachusetts Boston
Patricia D. Jehlen (born October 14, 1943 in Austin, Texas) is a member of the Massachusetts Senate representing the 2nd Middlesex district, which includes the communities of Medford, Somerville, Winchester, and Woburn. She is a Democrat who has served since October 2005. In her first year she served as Chairman of the Public Service Committee. In January 2007 she was appointed Senate Chairman of the Committee on Elder Affairs, Vice-Chairman of the Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government, and Vice-Chairman of the Committee on State Administration. She also serves on the Committees of Children, Families, and People with Disabilities; Health Care Financing; Labor and Workforce Development; and Public Safety and Homeland Security.
She is Chair of the Committee on Elder Affairs, Vice-Chair of the Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government and Vice-Chair of the Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight. She also serves on the Committee on Children and Families, Committee on Healthcare Financing, Committee on Labor and Workforce Development and the Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security.
Jehlen, as chair of Elder Affairs, increased the Personal Needs Allowance for people in rest homes and nursing homes for the first time since it was cut in 1990. She also got $6.2 million in additional funding for homecare, allowing 260 nursing home-eligible seniors to stay in their communities. Jehlen also successfully succeeded in bringing overdue adjustments to the needs of senior citizens, including an increase in their personal needs allowance, and to increase homemaker wages and the salary reserve for those who provide for the care of elders.
Her top legislative priorities are equitable and excellent education, universal and affordable health care, jobs with decent wages and benefits, and paid family leave.
Education and Experience
Jehlen, a former history teacher and VISTA volunteer, graduated from Swarthmore College, received a Masters degree in teaching from Harvard University, and completed Master's course work in history at University of Massachusetts Boston. She currently teaches a course in Health Politics and Public Policy at the Boston University School of Public Health.
From 1976 to 1991, she served on the Somerville School Committee, as chairman in 1980 and 1988. She was among the founders of the CHOICE program, a public school alternative elementary program. On the state level, she helped found the Council for Fair School Finance, which brought the successful lawsuit which led to the education reform of 1993, and brought hundreds of millions of dollars in new state aid to communities.
Jehlen served from 1991 to 2005 in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, where she served as Co-Chairman of the Progressive Legislator's Group (PLG), Co-Chairman of the Elder Caucus, and Vice-Chairman of the Committee on Elder Affairs. Among her successful legislation were bills to increase literacy for blind people, ensure the rights of people living with mental illness, and provide compensation for the wrongfully convicted.
As chair of the Progressive Legislators Group and member of the Working Families Agenda in the House, Jehlen helped raise the minimum wage and won tax cuts for working families like increasing the earned income tax credit and adopting the senior circuit breaker
On April 5, 2004, State Senator Charlie Shannon died, and a special election was soon declared to fill his seat. Jehlen, whose state house district lay within the senate district vacated by Shannon, entered the race. She faced three other candidates in the Democratic primary: State Representative Paul Casey of Winchester, Governor's Councilor Michael Callahan of Medford, and former State Representative Joseph Mackey, who had represented the same district Jehlen now did.
Jehlen staked out her position early as "the progressive", with the support of a plethora of unions and statewide and national progressive organizations, including MassEquality, SEIU, and Democracy for America. Although the race was considered wide open, with expectations that any of the four candidates could win, Jehlen won a substantial victory in the August 30th primary:
- 38% Pat Jehlen
- 27% Joe Mackey
- 22% Michael Callahan
- 13% Paul Casey
She went on to defeat Somerville Alderman-at-large William White, the Republican Candidate, in the September 27th general election. She was sworn in October 12, 2005.
Awards in 2007
- The Massachusetts Department of Mental Health for "compassionate leadership on behalf of children, adults and families living with mental illness"
- Teens Lead @ Work, Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health for her work on child labor reform
- The Peggy Munroe Home Care Advocacy Award from the Massachusetts Council of Home Care Aide Services
- The John Philip Sousa Award from Somerville Cambridge Elder Services for "outstanding advocacy efforts on behalf of Cambridge and Somerville Elders"
- The Heart in Hand Award from CASPAR for helping obtain funding to continue their shelter program
Awards in 2008
- Ben Gill award from Mass-Care for activism for Single-Payer Health Care
- A Senator-with-Heart- A Senator With Heart
- Patricia D. Jehlen on the MA legislature website
- 2007–2008 Public Officers of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
- Ebbert, Stephanie (August 27, 2005). "Four Democrats vie for open Senate seat". The Boston Globe.
- "Jehlen tops Democratic state Senate primary". The Boston Globe. August 31, 2005.
- "A new senator." The Boston Globe. October 13, 2005.