NORTH ADAMS -- First Berkshire District Rep. Gailanne Cariddi's second legislative session has begun on a high note: Just over 10 days ago, she was tapped by Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo to serve as the House vice chair of the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government.
DeLeo also tapped the former long-term city councilor to serve on the Joint Committee on Transportation. She also continues to serve on the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture.
"It's a real honor to be chosen to move up," Cariddi said Friday of her recent appointment as vice chairwoman. "I was a member of this committee during the last legislative session. I'm not sure one ever expects something like this, but the speaker recognized that I put a great deal of time and effort into my committee work."
She added, "I have to credit my time on the North Adams City Council, which allows me to bring a great deal of knowledge about municipal government to the Legislature. I also have to credit my long-standing relationship with Rep. [William "Smitty"] Pignatelli, whom I first met when I was part of the county commission that was put together to look at closing down our regional government in Berkshire County."
Cariddi said the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government's focus isn't far from the work she enjoyed while on the council.
"This committee handles legislation that is often specific to the needs of a specific city or town, but could potentially have an impact across the commonwealth," she said. "A lot of the legislation we deal with has to do with charter changes, town meetings that need to be certified or zoning law and regulation changes. We also deal with existing regulations and laws for the operation of existing county governments and also for economic or regional planning districts."
The new position also comes with a larger office, Room 155, which Cariddi said she's already taken advantage of -- she's already hosted several large groups, something her former office couldn't accommodate. Her new State House office phone number is 617-722-2450
"I'm also really eager to work on the Joint Commission of Transportation, which I was just appointed to," she said. "I'm very pleased and honored that Speaker DeLeo trusted me with this responsibility."
Having already met with state Dept. of Transportation Sec. Richard Davey, Cariddi said she is planning to be brought up to speed by House Committee Chairman William Straus and is already going through the "massive amount" of detail in Gov. Deval Patrick's transportation budget proposal.
"I'm obviously very concerned about regional transportation," she said. "I want it to be the top priority in every and any conversation held about transportation. Regional transportation is an integral part of our county -- it's handcuffed to our economy. We need adequate regional transportation out here, so residents can work second or third shift and be able to live wherever they choose."
She added, "I'd like to see longer service days and hours here. I'd like to see a direct bus from North County to Berkshire Community College."
As for Patrick's $34.8 billion budget proposal for 2014, Cariddi said she is looking forward to a "fair debate" within the House of Representatives.
"The governor definitely has a long-term vision and quite frankly, I wish he'd stay another term to see it through," she said, referring to Patrick's announcement he won't seek another term as governor. "It's a lot to do in a short period of time. I'm looking forward to learning more about it. I'm also hoping that it can be resolved fairly, not only for the 1st Berkshire District, but for all of the commonwealth."
To reach Jennifer Huberdeau, email