Local state Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez has traveled from the streets of Mission Hill to the top rank of the State House, as he was recently named chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.
The committee crafts and writes the state budget and is seen as a stepping stone to become speaker of the House.
But Sánchez put the brakes on any talk of eventually becoming speaker, telling the Gazette during a July 20 interview, “slowdown,” and saying he hasn’t even met his new staff and is still getting his current staff situated into his new office. He also said he has been busy, out on Mission Hill consoling with the community over the recent shooting death of hardware store owner Andres Cruz, who he had known for most of his life, and at the Mildred C. Hailey (formerly Bromley-Heath) housing development talking about new programs.
Sánchez said he was “humbled” when Speaker Robert DeLeo approached him about taking over the chairmanship position from Brian Dempsey, who left to become a lobbyist.
“I’m excited. It’s a lot to take in,” he said about the new position.
Sánchez, who grew up in the Mission Hill’s Mission Main housing development, began working in the public sector during the 1990s in the Menino administration and was elected to the State House in 2002. He said what he has been able to accomplish is an example of what a community can do when people “focus and take on each opportunity to do so much,” listing off housing, youth development, elderly programs, and infrastructure as examples.
Throughout the interview, Sánchez stressed his local roots and how he “used to hang out on the street corner.” He said that now in his new position he has to be “thoughtful of very street corner in the state.”
“I’m excited for my district…but also for other districts in the state,” he said.
When asked about being one of the first Latinos to reach such heights in state government, Sánchez downplayed the accomplishment.
“I’m proud as a Puerto Rican man to be able to have accomplished so much, but I’m no different from any other kid from the streets,” he said.
Sánchez went on to say that there were a lot of traps out there where he grew up—some of which he fell through—but the people around him helped guide him through and grow up. He said those people continue to help him grow.