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  • Joe Difazio - The Patriot Ledger

Newsmaker: Ted Philips, from homeroom rep. to state rep.

Name: Ted Philips

Age: 37

Hometown: Sharon

In the news: Philips, a Democrat, is heading to the Legislature to represent the 8th Norfolk District. He will replace his boss Louis Kafka, who is retiring after two decades.

Now you know: Philips says he is "a bit of a theatre nerd."

His story: Ted Philips says he was bitten by the politics bug at an early age, when he was elected a homeroom representative to the student council at Sharon High School in his freshman year.

"They needed somebody to run for homeroom representative to the student council and, actually, nobody stepped forward, and so I thought, 'Why not?' Philips said. "I gave it a shot and I sort of took to it like a fish to water. I think it was the next year that I started watching 'The West Wing' and fell in love with the idea of politics. And then it, literally, just clicked for me."

Now, more than two decades later, Philips is set to take on a much larger role as the State Representative for the 8th Norfolk District, which consists of Sharon, half of Stoughton, and parts of Mansfield and Walpole.

Philips went to the University of Massachusetts Amherst as a political science major and then headed to Beacon Hill to work as a legislative aide. He started off in the office of former State Sen. Stephen Brewer of central Massachusetts, then a chance popped up to work for Rep. Louis Kafka.

"An opportunity came to transfer to my home district and work for Rep. Kafka, and it was really a no-brainer for me," Philips said. "He actually came over to me and said, 'I want you to come work for me. You know the district. You know the players. You're already involving yourself in local politics. So I want you to come work for me.' So, I did, and I've been there for the past 14 years."

Philips said that Kafka has been a mentor, and taught him the power of working diligently behind the scenes.

"He really instilled in me that you can get a lot of things done when you don't care who gets the credit," Philips said. "He was always willing to take a step back. It didn't matter to him that a bill was coming forward with his name on it, so long as the bill came forward."

In January, when Philips is sworn in, he said that COVID-19 will be his main focus as he gets started in the role.

"We need to make sure the No. 1 priority is getting through this pandemic safely and making sure that our businesses, and particularly local businesses, are sound and stable by the end of it," Philips said. "This is going to be a very, very tough winter. I'm thinking right now about restaurant owners in particular, who are staring down the barrel of some very bleak scenarios because of the limitations on outdoor seating in the winter in New England."

Beyond the pandemic, he said he wants to focus on transportation, economic development and civil service reform, "to make sure that public safety departments look like the communities that they're serving."

"All four towns in the 8th (District) are on a commuter rail line, and with the MBTA looking at steep cuts, I think we have to have a greater conversation almost at a philosophical level about how the MBTA provides service, what the expectations are for people in the city and people who are commuting to the city, and whether or not those commutes are going to continue," Philips said. "We need to work with the MBTA to create a service model that works for everybody."

Philips will be sworn in as state representative on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021.


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