October 29, 2004: Headlines: COS - Sierra Leone: Politics: Election2004 - Magnani: Election2004 - Kerry: Framingham Tab: RPCV Dave Magnani reflects on State House career

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Sierra Leone: Peace Corps Sierra Leone : The Peace Corps in Sierra Leone: October 29, 2004: Headlines: COS - Sierra Leone: Politics: Election2004 - Magnani: Election2004 - Kerry: Framingham Tab: RPCV Dave Magnani reflects on State House career

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RPCV Dave Magnani reflects on State House career

RPCV Dave Magnani reflects on State House career

RPCV Dave Magnani reflects on State House career

A return to private life: Magnani reflects on State House career

By Liz Mineo/ Staff Writer

Friday, October 29, 2004

Caption: Massachusetts State Senator Dave Magnani at the Press Conference at the National Press Club in Washington on October 6 announcing the statement of support of the "RPCVs for Kerry," an organization founded by Magnani. Photo Credit: PCOL

After serving 20 years as a state representative and senator, Senator David Magnani, D-Framingham, still remembers the first time he campaigned for office in 1983.

"I worked my tail off," said a reminiscing Magnani on a recent morning at a Friendly's restaurant on Temple Street.

"I spent 14 months campaigning against a 10-year incumbent. I knocked on 11,000 doors and I used five pairs of shoes. No one expected me to win. I was fighting the real political machine. It was an amazing shock when I won."

So it was when Magnani announced in March he was not running for re-election this year. Putting an end to a long political career was a difficult decision, but one that made sense, he said.

"There is a time for everything," he said. "I felt that if I stayed longer, this could have been the last career I have, and I wanted to have one more career. I felt it was the right time to leave and I wanted to leave on my own terms."

Magnani is expected to leave office in January, completing his sixth term in the Senate. Ashland Democrat Karen Spilka and Hopkinton Republican James Coffey are running to fill the 2nd Middlesex and Norfolk district Senate seat. Magnani is supporting Spilka.

Summing up his political career is hard for Magnani. There are many memories he cherishes, accomplishments he values, and lessons he has learned along the way. In all his years as a politician, he said, there was never a boring minute in the House, where he spent eight years, or at the Senate, where he served 12 years.

During his career, he chaired four committees: Education, Arts and Humanities, Science and Technology, Public Service and Steering and Policy. He vice-chaired four other committees and served on six others, among them Ways and Means, Human Services and Elderly Affairs and Commerce and Labor. He also founded four organizations such as I-495 Technology Corridor Initiative, the Citizen Involvement Training Center and the Ashland Educational Community Center.

Among his legislative achievements he cites the passage of the Education Reform Act while he chaired the Senate Education Committee, the creation of Massachusetts Global Education Centers, the 50 percent toll discount program, the expansion of Massachusetts family Networks, and transforming Massachusetts Maternal leave to Parental Leave Act.

In the House and the Senate, Magnani has earned a reputation of being an advocate for the neediest and a legislator with a strong interest in education. He served as Senate chairman of the Education Committee, his highest profile assignment. But he would like to be remembered as someone who cares about people and someone who worked hard for the people in his district.

That's how state Rep. Karen Spilka, D-Ashland, sees him.

"I have the highest regard and respect for him," she said. "David has an incredible amount of compassion and caring for people. People in the district were lucky to have him."

Many agree, but some would have liked to see Magnani having achieved a more prominent role in the Legislature, shown more legislative accomplishments, and taken stronger stances on several issues.

For Gerard Desilets, who persuaded Magnani to go into politics 20 years ago, Magnani has served his community well defending the interest of MetroWest communities in the Legislature.

"We're going to miss him terribly," said Desilets. "For 20 years, all of us who wanted to have access and input in the Legislature, David was the person we could go for strong representation on education, health and human services."

On a typical day Á which they don't actually exist, he said Á senators and representatives deal with 20 or 40 issues, respond to 30 or 40 requests for assistance from constituents, attend weddings, funerals, retirement parties or political fundraisers, and serve on different committees.

"You're protected from boredom," he said. "That's what keeps people on this job. And once in a while, something happens that affects millions of people positively, and it's something that wouldn't have happened without you."

Magnani credits President Kennedy's inaugural speech "Ask what you can do for your country," as the main factor that got him into politics and public service.

"I felt he was speaking personally to me," said Magnani. "I felt a calling, a vocation for public service. I saw public service as a noble cause, a higher call."

Following that higher call, Magnani joined the Peace Corps, after graduating from Northeastern University in mechanical engineering. To join the Peace Corps, he turned down a job offer in New Jersey that included a free MBA program. He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer from 1968 to 1971 in Sierra Leone, and the experience marked him indelibly.

"When you hold a child in your arms, who is so malnourished that he doesn't have muscular strength to hold his urine, that has to change you," said Magnani. "If it doesn't, you must be dead. The eyes of those children never leave me. When I left Africa, I made a pledge to myself that I couldn't forget those children."

Joining the Peace Corps was a pivotal experience in Magnani's life. Teaching science and math to African children made him discover his love for education. After returning from Africa, Magnani earned master's and doctoral degree in education at UMass-Amherst, where he taught for a few years before launching his political career. He also earned a master's in public administration at Harvard.

With only a few more weeks remaining as a senator, Magnani feels mixed emotions. While he feels sad about leaving Beacon Hill, he looks forward to pursuing a new career. His dream is to go back to public education, where he came from before he became a politician.

"Education continues to be my love," said Magnani. "And it was a big part of my political career. Politics was a way of helping people help one another, but education is inspiring. To see a child in the process of discovery is extraordinary. That's what teachers do, they create opportunities to discover, they make children alive."

The son of a second-generation Italian bricklayer, Magnani is a semifinalist in Massachusetts Bay Community College's nationwide search for a new president. He'll be happy there, but wherever he goes, he said he'll work to help children do better.

"I have yet to forget the eyes of the African children," he said. "I still see children as society's next chance to get it right."

When this story was posted in October 2004, this was on the front page of PCOL:

Kerry reaches out to Returned Volunteers Kerry reaches out to Returned Volunteers
The Kerry campaign wants the RPCV vote. Read our interview with Dave Magnani, Massachusetts State Senator and Founder of "RPCVs for Kerry," and his answers to our questions about Kerry's plan to triple the size of the Peace Corps, should the next PC Director be an RPCV, and Safety and Security issues. Then read the "RPCVs for Kerry" statement of support and statements by Dr. Robert Pastor, Ambassador Parker Borg, and Paul Oostburg Sanz made at the "RPCVs for Kerry" Press Conference.

RPCV Carl Pope says the key to winning this election is not swaying undecided voters, but persuading those already willing to vote for your candidate to actually go to the polls.

Take our poll and tell us what you are doing to support your candidate.

Finally read our wrap-up of the eight RPCVs in Senate and House races around the country and where the candidates are in their races.

Director Gaddi Vasquez:  The PCOL Interview Director Gaddi Vasquez: The PCOL Interview
PCOL sits down for an extended interview with Peace Corps Director Gaddi Vasquez. Read the entire interview from start to finish and we promise you will learn something about the Peace Corps you didn't know before.

Plus the debate continues over Safety and Security.
Schwarzenegger praises PC at Convention Schwarzenegger praises PC at Convention
Governor Schwarzenegger praised the Peace Corps at the Republican National Convention: "We're the America that sends out Peace Corps volunteers to teach village children." Schwarzenegger has previously acknowledged his debt to his father-in-law, Peace Corps Founding Director Sargent Shriver, for teaching him "the joy of public service" and Arnold is encouraging volunteerism by creating California Service Corps and tapping his wife, Maria Shriver, to lead it. Leave your comments and who can come up with the best Current Events Funny?
 Peace Corps: One of the Best Faces of America Peace Corps: One of the Best Faces of America
Teresa Heinz Kerry celebrates the Peace Corps Volunteer as one of the best faces America has ever projected in a speech to the Democratic Convention. The National Review disagreed and said that Heinz's celebration of the PCV was "truly offensive." What's your opinion and can you come up with a Political Funny?

Read the stories and leave your comments.

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Story Source: Framingham Tab

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Sierra Leone; Politics; Election2004 - Magnani; Election2004 - Kerry



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