New Rep from Merrimack Valley Typifies a Welcome Breed: the Political Wunderkind

Friday, March 29, 2013

I wonder where Diana DiZoglio, the new state rep from the 14th Essex District in the Merrimack Valley, will be in ten years.
At age 39, she could still be in the legislature.  Or she could be long gone from the State House, having capitalized on her good education, interpersonal skills and time on the Hill to land a good job somewhere else.
If DiZoglio stays in politics, it would not surprise me if she has moved up to the Senate by 2023. At the least, I’d say, she’ll be the chair of a House committee of middling importance by then.
We see DiZoglios fairly often in public life.  They are the wunderkinds:  political phenoms who triumph in highly competitive and difficult races at an early age.
In her first run ever for office this past fall, DiZoglio toppled an entrenched, six-term incumbent in the Democratic primary, David Torrisi.  And she won the final going away.
The Eagle Tribune newspaper has said that DiZoglio, in beating Torrisi, “pulled off what might have been the biggest political upset in the state.”  I would not disagree.
DiZoglio is a lifelong resident of Methuen and a graduate of Methuen High School.  She earned a bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College in 2010.  In high school and college, DiZoglio studied languages and achieved fluency in Spanish, a skill she put to great use when campaigning in the two precincts of her district in Lawrence, which has a large Latino population.
(The district also includes parts of Haverhill, Methuen and North Andover.)
Because it sprawls over a large area and is quite diverse, the 14th Essex presents certain physical challenges to anyone running there.  DiZoglio showed herself to be more than equal to the difficulties she encountered on the campaign trail.
It is reported that she knocked on approximately 4,400 doors, and that if she found no one at home, she’d quickly write a personalized note on stationery she carried with her and leave it wedged in the door.
“Money talks, Diana walks,” the Eagle Tribune quoted her as saying.  
Traditionally, voters everywhere like to give a leg up to promising young folks who seem to embody the best traits of their generation -- ambitious kids who look like advertisements for the local schools and the local way of life. 
We look at a handsome, accomplished, charismatic young candidate and say to ourselves, “She’d be a good representative of our community.  We need fresh faces like that on Beacon Hill.” 
Generally, we feel better about politics when good young people are eager to join the fray.
Being a good representative of a community does not necessarily mean you’ll be a good member of a representative body.  Nor does it mean you’ll enjoy, or find rewarding, the work of a representative.
Many fresh-faced youngsters have learned the ropes in the Massachusetts legislature and moved deliberately up the leadership ladder.  They’ve enjoyed long careers and retired in their late-middle years with the plaudits of their townspeople ringing in their ears, one of the greatest comforts known to man.
But for every legislator like that, there are probably 10 or 20 more who tired rather quickly of the life and work of a legislator.  These are the folks who drop from the scene after two, three or four terms.  Most, I’d say, are at least mildly disillusioned when they drop.  “It wasn’t what I thought it would be when I first ran for office,” I’ve heard so many of them say.
One I know well who left the legislature voluntarily in his mid-thirties put it to me this way:
“I looked around the building (the State House) and saw a lot of guys who had been there for 20 or even 30 years.  They were good guys, most of them, but I really didn’t want to be like them when I got to be that age.  It seemed like, after a certain point, they got stuck there and just kept running because they didn’t know what else they could do.  I decided I had to leave when I was still young or I might never be able to go and do something else.”
Whether Diana DiZoglio chooses to make a career of the legislature or not, she’ll do just fine, of course.  She’s got the stuff of a real competitor.

No comments:

Post a Comment