For State Representative and House Minority Leader Bradley Jones (R-North Reading), partisan brinksmanship never compromises his larger obligations to his constituents and the political institutions which serve those citizens.
For Jones, who has for more than two decades served as a Republican member of a Statehouse dominated by liberal lawmakers, the true art of politics and dealmaking revolves around respecting differences of opinion and embracing common values and causes.
"The way I look at it, no matter where you stand as far as party and political philosophy, you need to gain the support and trust of your colleagues. It's about building and fostering relationships with people and recognizing that those you disagree with today might be your allies tomorrow," said Jones, discussing his 15-year role as the Statehouse's top Republican lawmaker.
A North Reading High School graduate from the Class of 1983, Jones first stint of public service began in 1988, when he served on his hometown's housing authority. He later became a member of the Finance Committee, before being elected to the North Reading Board of Selectman.
Just showing up
Before running and winning office in 1994 as state representative of 20th Middlesex District, which includes Lynnfield, Middleton, North Reading and Reading, Jones learned much about bipartisanship from former legislator Richard Tisei, a popular Wakefield Republican who served on Beacon Hill for 25 years as a state representative, state senator, and senate minority leader.
Tisei, who earned a reputation as a constituent-first politician willing to cross the aisle, stepped down from the senate in 2010 in order to run for lieutenant governor during current Governor Charles Baker's unsuccessful bid to unseat his predecessor, Democrat Deval Patrick.
"I consider Richard one of my best political friends, allies, and mentors," said Jones, who worked for Tisei when the Wakefield resident was first elected to Beacon Hill.
"The role of the minority leader is multi-faceted, but first and foremost, as a state representative I'm elected to be a good steward for my district," he explained. "I'd like to think I've learned a lot from Richard in realizing that while the public eye might be on partisan differences, there's a lot we all want [regardless of party affiliation]."
The house minority leader, who prides himself of building relationships with those who are technically his political opponents, insists a key to that success revolves around his ability to make himself available to friends and foes alike.
And for the North Reading father, the first step towards accomplishing that goal entails simply showing up. Having never missed a legislative vote since being elected, a feat that is quite rare on Beacon Hill, Jones has sacrificed quite a bit in his personal life - including rearranging his honeymoon and leaving the hospital early after the birth of his son - to ensure that unbroken 7,000 vote streak remains alive.
"I'm proud of that," he said, while crediting the patience and understanding of his his wife, Linda, for making that achievement possible. "I love [being a state legislator], and I'd like to think that voting record shows how much I care about the opportunity I've been given."
Staying above the fray
Agreeing to an interview with The Middlesex East just after a scandal broke out involving State Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, an Amherst Democrat who on Monday temporarily ceded his leadership post after his spouse was accused of sexual misconduct, Jones was asked to comment on the developing story.
In response, Jones passed on an easy opportunity to take a shot at the democratic leadership and instead predicted he and his republican colleagues would not resort to the popular headline-grabbing mudslinging so aptly practiced on the national level.
"The nature of politics in Washington is so dramatically different. I think perhaps part of that is driven by the news [industry] and the nature of social media, where people are updating and blogging [continually]," he said.
"We have to always keep in mind that a lot of work we do as legislators isn't necessarily partisan [at the Statehouse]. Even though that sometimes generates the spotlight, a lot of us [have a shared interest in addressing] issues that are local and regional," added the John Hopkins University graduate.
On Monday, following an eight-hour Democratic caucus, the Senate voted to select Majority Leader Harriette Chandler as acting president as the allegations against Rosenberg's husband, Bryon Hefner, are investigated further.
Rosenberg, who is not accused on any wrong doing, expressed shock over the allegations, first reported last week by The Boston Globe, and maintains his husband had no influence over his policy decisions.
When asked again about the recent leadership changeover in the upper legislative chamber, the former town selectman reserved his commentary to questions about how the unprecedented leadership changeover might affect the Statehouse as a whole.
According to Jones, his hope is the arrangement, unique because two senate leaders technically remain in power simultaneously, will not cause confusion or delay important state business.
"We are in unprecedented terrritory, and it will impact us. How great of an impact that will be remains to be seen," said Jones, who though somewhat unaffected by the change as a House lawmaker, admitted the political junkie in him is fascinated by the process.
"I try to be a realist, and it has the real potential to slow things down and that could really crowd out other initiatives. Does this mean he automatically goes back to Senate [president], or does she have to agree to step down? Do you completely step aside or do we have a shadow cabinet? So there are a lot of questions about process and procedure," he continued.