Assistant Managing Editor
LONGMEADOW After 18 years of representing the second Hampden District in the House of Representatives, state Rep. Mary S. Rogeness, R -- Longmeadow, will not be seeking re-election in November.
"I've served for 18 years and it seems like it's time to get off the turnpike," Rogeness told Reminder Publications.
Originally from Kansas, she earned a B.S. in political science from Carleton College in Minnesota before working for the Department of Defense in Washington, D.C., as a computer programmer. Her first stint in public office was as a School Committee member in Longmeadow in 1982, where she served for six years. When she sought her current seat, Gov. William Weld had just been elected and the impetus for her decision was driven by the changes taking place in Boston.
"At that time the state was paying the price for the excess of the '70s when taxes had been raised repeatedly and we never had enough money to balance the budget," Rogeness recalled. "The state had been raising taxes and Gov. Weld was elected to bring a change to that, and I was proud to be part of the initiative. Through the '90s as we progressed we were able to cut taxes repeatedly and still balance the budget and still provide family services. And that, I think, that is one of the things that gives me pride."
Rogeness said one of her strongest interests has been protecting and strengthening the economy of the region as well as the state because Massachusetts has been losing some jobs.
"The vote yesterday in the Legislature to freeze the unemployment insurance rates is a step in that direction," Rogeness said. "To encourage businesses to come here and stay here and grow here."
She said in her absence she would like to see the life sciences bill grow. According to www.mass.gov, Gov. Deval Patrick described the plan at a BIO 2007 convention. The plan includes "a 10-year, $1 billion investment package that will both enhance the state's already nationally recognized assets in the fields of medicine and science and fill gaps in federal funding to ensure the state's ability to support life science progress from the idea stage through the production stage. The Patrick Administration's strategy brings together industry, academic research hospitals, and public and private colleges and universities to coordinate these efforts, spur new research, strengthen investments, create new jobs and produce new therapies for a better quality of life."
Rogeness said she is looking forward to spending time with her family, the freedom to take a break whenever she wants to and traveling more. However, the urge to serve the public will never quite disappear.
"My husband [Dean] has become very involved in Longmeadow activities. I came from the voluntary sector and I have missed my activities with the World Affairs Council," Rogeness said, adding that she hopes to gear up participation in other community organizations as well.
Rogeness is a state representative for the 2nd Hampden district which includes Longmeadow, Forest Park, East Longmeadow, Hampden and Monson.