Editor’s note: The following is one of a series of articles on some of the public officials who represent this area. In these profiles, local leaders look back on 2013, and discuss their plans for 2014.
WEST NEWBURY — State Rep. Lenny Mirra, R-West Newbury, journeyed to Beacon Hill a year ago to join what might be called an endangered species: the Republican Party in Massachusetts.
The prosperous businessman was the only GOP freshman state representative of 16; he joined a body that has 130 Democrats and 30 Republicans in the House.
Despite being part of the minority party, he recalls he was pleasantly surprised in his early weeks.
“There was very little bickering,” said Mirra during a recent interview. “Democrats were helpful, and we all work together. It’s not like what you hear about Washington; at the Statehouse, members of both parties cooperate.”
Mirra, who runs a local family-owned construction company, was assigned to the Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Business and the Joint Committee of Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy.
“I don’t chair a committee because Democratic leaders give out those assignments,” said Mirra, who had little political experience when he ran a year ago. “But I was pleased with what I got.
“Because of my background in business and in construction, I can use my experience on matters regarding building and utilities.”
One of his activities in his freshman year has been to determine how the state can save money on construction projects, especially schools.
“We all want to pay less, but it’s complicated,” he said. “We’re studying regulations and practices that make it expensive to build anything here.”
He said that most state contracts call for a “prevailing wage.” That might be quite high in Boston but it should be less in Essex County, he said.