Patricia D. Jehlen

Patricia Deats Jehlen is a former teacher and current Massachusetts State Senator of the Democratic Party. She represents the Second Middlesex District. That includes the cities of Cambridge, wards 9 to 11, inclusive, Medford and Somerville, and the town of Winchester, precincts 4 to 7, inclusive, in the County of Middlesex. She has served the Massachusetts State Senate since 2005. She also served the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 1991–2003.[1] She resides in Somerville, MA.

Patricia D. Jehlen
1991 Patricia Jehlen.png
Patricia D. Jehlen, circa 1991
Member of the Massachusetts Senate
from the 2nd Middlesex district
Assumed office
October 12, 2005
Preceded byCharles E. Shannon, Jr.
Member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives from the 27th Middlesex District
In office
Preceded byAlice Wolf
Succeeded byDenise Provost
Member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives from the 30th Middlesex District
In office
Preceded byJoseph Mackey
Personal details
Born (1943-10-14) October 14, 1943 (age 76)
Austin, Texas
Political partyDemocratic
ResidenceSomerville, Massachusetts
Alma materSwarthmore College
Harvard University
University of Massachusetts Boston

Early life and educationEdit

Deats was born October 14, 1943 in Austin, Texas, the fourth child of Paul Deats, a Methodist minister, and Ruth, a community activist and Girl Scout leader. She had two older sisters, Carolyn and Fran, and an older brother, Randy. The family moved to Massachusetts in 1950, when Paul took a job at the Boston University School of Theology.[2]

Jehlen later attended Swarthmore College, receiving a B.A. in history, and Harvard University, completing a master's degree in teaching. She later received a second master's degree from the University of Massachusetts Boston, in history. She currently taught a course in Health Politics and Public Policy at the Boston University School of Public Health. Jehlen began her career as a secondary school history teacher.

Somerville School CommitteeEdit

In 1976, Jehlen ran and was elected to the Somerville School Committee.

She served on the school committee until 1991, acting as its chair in 1980 and 1988. During this time, she was among the founders of the CHOICE program, a public school alternative elementary program and helped found the Council for Fair School Finance, which brought a successful lawsuit leading to the Massachusetts education reform of 1993.

Massachusetts House of RepresentativesEdit

Jehlen served from 1991 to 2005 in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, where she served as Co-Chairman of the Progressive Legislator's Group (PLG), Co-Chairman of the Elder Caucus, and Vice-Chairman of the Committee on Elder Affairs. Among her successful legislation were bills to increase literacy for blind people, ensure the rights of people living with mental illness, and provide compensation for the wrongfully convicted.

As chair of the Progressive Legislators Group and member of the Working Families Agenda in the House, Jehlen helped raise the minimum wage and won tax cuts for working families like increasing the earned income tax credit and adopting the senior circuit breaker

2005 Special Senate ElectionEdit

The Massachusetts Senate seat for the 2nd Middlesex district became open on April 5, 2004, following the death of Senator Charlie Shannon. A special election was soon declared to fill his seat. Jehlen, whose state house district lay within the senate district vacated by Shannon, entered the race. She faced three other candidates in the Democratic primary: State Representative Paul Casey of Winchester, Governor's Councilor Michael Callahan of Medford, and former State Representative Joseph Mackey, whom Jehlen had succeeded as State Representative.[3][4]

Jehlen staked out her position early as "the progressive", with the support of a plethora of unions and statewide and national progressive organizations, including MassEquality, SEIU, and Democracy for America. Although the race was considered wide open, with expectations that any of the four candidates could win, Jehlen won a substantial victory in the August 30th primary:[5][6]

  • 38% Pat Jehlen
  • 27% Joe Mackey
  • 22% Michael Callahan
  • 13% Paul Casey

She went on to defeat Republican candidate William White, Somerville alderman-at-large, in the general election on September 27, 2005, and was sworn in by Governor Mitt Romney on October 12.[7]

Senate careerEdit

Jehlen serves as the Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs and the Senate Chair of the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development. She also serves as Senate Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Cannabis Policy.

Jehlen, as chair of Elder Affairs, increased the Personal Needs Allowance for people in rest homes and nursing homes for the first time since it was cut in 1990. She also got $6.2 million in additional funding for homecare, allowing 260 nursing home-eligible seniors to stay in their communities. Jehlen also successfully succeeded in bringing overdue adjustments to the needs of senior citizens, including an increase in their personal needs allowance, and to increase homemaker wages and the salary reserve for those who provide for the care of elders.

Jehlen top legislative priorities are education, universal and affordable health care, jobs with decent wages and benefits, and paid family leave.

In the Massachusetts gubernatorial election, 2014, Jehlen endorsed Don Berwick for Governor of Massachusetts[8]

In the Democratic Party presidential primaries, 2016, Jehlen endorsed Bernie Sanders.

In the 2016 democratic primary, Jehlen won against Leland Cheung, 80% to 20%

Committee assignmentsEdit

191st General Court

  • Chairperson, Joint Committee on Elder Affairs
  • Chairperson, Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development
  • Vice Chair, Joint Committee on Cannabis Policy
  • Senate Committee on Ways and Means
  • Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Businesses
  • Joint Committee on Revenue
  • Joint Committee on Ways and Means

190th General Court

  • Chairperson, Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy
  • Vice Chair, Joint Committee on Education
  • Vice Chair, Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development
  • Assistant Vice Chair, Joint Committee on Ways and Means
  • Assistant Vice Chair, Senate Committee on Ways and Means
  • Joint Committee on Elder Affairs
  • Joint Committee on Election Laws
  • Joint Committee on the Judiciary[1]

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit


  1. ^ a b "Patricia D. Jehlen". The General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Retrieved 2017-04-21.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-07-16. Retrieved 2015-07-15.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-11-08. Retrieved 2010-03-20.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ Ebbert, Stephanie (August 27, 2005). "Four Democrats vie for open Senate seat". The Boston Globe.
  5. ^[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ "Jehlen tops Democratic state Senate primary". The Boston Globe. August 31, 2005.
  7. ^ "A new senator." The Boston Globe. October 13, 2005.
  8. ^ Shira Schoenberg (June 10, 2014). "Massachusetts House Majority Leader Ronald Mariano endorses Juliette Kayyem for governor". MassLive Politics. Retrieved August 18, 2014.