Patricia D. Jehlen

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Patricia D. Jehlen
Patricia Jehlen at Assembly station opening, September 2014.JPG
Jehlen speaking at the opening of Assembly station in September 2014
Member of the Massachusetts Senate
from the 2nd Middlesex district
Assumed office
October 12, 2005
Preceded by Charles E. Shannon, Jr.
Member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives from the 27th Middlesex District
In office
2003–2005
Preceded by Alice Wolf
Succeeded by Denise Provost
Member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives from the 30th Middlesex District
In office
1991–2003
Preceded by Joseph Mackey
Personal details
Born (1943-10-14) October 14, 1943 (age 71)
Austin, Texas
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Residence Somerville, Massachusetts
Alma mater Swarthmore College
Harvard University
University of Massachusetts Boston

Patricia Deats Jehlen (born October 14, 1943)[1] is an American politician and teacher, who has served as a member of the Massachusetts Senate since 2005. She represents the 2nd Middlesex district, which includes the cities of Medford and Somerville, as well as portions of the city of Cambridge and the town of Winchester, in suburban Boston.[2] Jehlen is a member of the Democratic Party.

Early Life and Education[edit]

Patricia Deats was born October 14, 1943 in Austin, Texas, the fourth child of Paul Deats, a Methodist minister, and Ruth, a community activist and Girl Scout leader. She had two older sisters, Carolyn and Fran, and an older brother, Randy. The family moved to Massachusetts in 1950, when Paul took a job at the Boston University School of Theology.[3]

Jehlen later attended Swarthmore College, receiving a B.A. in history, and Harvard University, completing a Master's degree in teaching. She later received a second Master's degree from the University of Massachusetts Boston, in history. She currently teaches a course in Health Politics and Public Policy at the Boston University School of Public Health. Jehlen then began work as a secondary school history teacher.

Somerville School Committee[edit]

In 1976, Jehlen ran and was elected to the Somerville School Committee.

She served on the school committee until 1991, acting as its chair in 1980 and 1988. During this time, she was among the founders of the CHOICE program, a public school alternative elementary program and helped found the Council for Fair School Finance, which brought a successful lawsuit leading to the Massachusetts education reform of 1993.

Massachusetts House of Representatives[edit]

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

2005 Special Senate Election[edit]

The Massachusetts Senate seat for the 2nd Middlesex district became open on April 5, 2004, following the death of Senator Charlie Shannon. 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, whom Jehlen had succeeded as State Representative.[4][5]

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:[6][7]

  • 38% Pat Jehlen
  • 27% Joe Mackey
  • 22% Michael Callahan
  • 13% Paul Casey

She went on to defeat Republican candidate William White, Somerville alderman-at-large, in the general election on September 27, 2005, and was sworn in by Governor Mitt Romney on October 12.[8]

Senate Career[edit]

She serves as the Assistant Vice Chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, Chair of Joint Committee on Elder Services, Chair of the Special Senate Committee on Innovative Education and Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Education. She also serves on the committees on Housing and Judiciary.

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.

In the Massachusetts gubernatorial election, 2014, Jehlen endorsed Don Berwick for Governor of Massachusetts[9]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]