By Melissa Ellin
Boston University News Service
After serving as chairman of the Holliston Democratic Town Committee and on the town Finance Committee, James Arena-DeRosa is headed for the State House.
Arena-DeRosa defeated his Republican challenger, former Millis Select Board Chair Loring Barnes, to capture the open seat in the 8th Middlesex District. The district, which was rejiggered as a result of the 2020 Census, includes all of Hopkinton, Holliston and Sherborn, and part of Millis.
With 95% of the unofficial vote tabulated, Arena-DeRosa had earned 12,717 votes to Barnes’ 6,894.
“I think people sort of connected with my message about being a voice for the small towns and someone who’s going to work with the communities here,” said Arena-DeRosa late Tuesday night. “I feel really positive about today’s outcome, but we have a lot of work to do in the months ahead.”
Barnes said she expects a lot from Arena-DeRosa and will keep her eyes on Beacon Hill as a constituent. She added that if she could see one change, it would be to open the Legislature and make meetings more transparent so towns can have more of a say in the decision-making.
“The fact that sessions are most often closed and there is no transparency is, to me, unethical,” Barnes said.
Arena-DeRosa said he planned to continue conversations with communities so he can begin to address their needs. He said he planned to hold meetings with local select boards, finance committees and school committees to focus on “listening and learning and connecting,” and not just campaigning.
“I want to spend my time listening and really getting to know the players on a more of a policy level,” he said.
Arena-DeRosa said his main goal is to ensure state government takes the voices of small towns when making decisions. He added that this is the representation he will fight for on Beacon Hill “in the months and years ahead.”
Because this marks Arena-DeRosa’s first role on Beacon Hill, he said he plans to take time to feel out the new role. Still, he added that he feels prepared for what comes next.
“I want to make sure I take measure of where things are, how I can make a difference,” Arena-DeRosa said. “I want to make things work, but I’m not afraid to challenge where I think things could be better.”
As for Barnes, she said she needs some time to catch her breath before figuring out what’s next for her.
“I haven’t made any plans politically, because this was not a career destination,” she said. “I felt that this was a calling.”
That said, she is “not going to curl up in a cocoon,” and added that she is proud of the work her team did. She also said she intends to remain involved in Millis affairs, as she has for 35 years.
Arena-DeRosa, who is filling a seat that was vacated after former state Rep. Carolyn Dykema, D-Holliston, resigned in February, he looks forward to working with neighboring state Rep. David Linsky, D-Natick, who currently represents Millis and Sherborn ahead of the redistricting.
“It’s a new district and it’s great towns, and I look forward to working with all of them,” Arena-DeRosa said.
This story originally appeared in the MetroWest Daily News.
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