Opinion

Ehrlich’s global view

State Rep. Lori A. Ehrlich marks the 10th anniversary of her election to the Massachusetts House of Representatives this year and with Lynn Mayor Thomas M. McGee’s departure from the state Senate, Ehrlich assumes the title of dean of the Lynn legislative delegation.

Ehrlich, a Marblehead Democrat who represents Marblehead, Swampscott, and a beachside corner of Lynn in the House, is an elected official who has deepened the meaning of thinking globally while acting locally.

Her legislative list of accomplishments includes condemning and working to ban the sale of illegally-possessed ivory. The ivory trade crosses continents and oceans and Ehrlich met with former President Bill Clinton to discuss their shared interest in preventing elephant extinction.

Some people might ask why a legislator from Marblehead needs to protect elephants and Ehrlich’s response would be characteristically blunt: Everyone in elected office has a responsibility to make the world a better place for future generations.

That goal sounds like a tall order for a state legislator. But Ehrlich has proven herself adept since taking office in 2009 in building coalitions with legislative allies, even as she tackles issues head on. She has worked with the Essex County Community Organization (ECCO) to focus on immigrant rights and the important role her constituents can play in highlighting unequal treatment faced by immigrants.

She will meet with ECCO representatives on Jan. 22 to discuss 2018 legislative priorities. Even as she concentrates on national, even international concerns including immigration, Ehrlich has taken a practical approach to concerns affecting her constituents. Her work on improving natural gas safety showed her relentless commitment to utility safety improvements.

Ehrlich has filed legislation to improve pet safety and to save lives of underage drinkers. She demonstrated forward-thinking awareness of the changing business world when she challenged existing law governing employee non-compete contracts.

She was a partner with the Office Depot Foundation in 2011 to provide backpacks to needy children.

Her constituents have signaled their respect and admiration for Ehrlich at the ballot box. The 6,435 votes she received from Swampscott residents in November 2016 eclipsed the town vote for Hillary Clinton.

As she dons the mantle of dean, Ehrlich has a lot to teach colleagues Donald Wong, Daniel Cahill, Brendan Crighton and whomever succeeds Crighton as West Lynn and Nahant’s state representative.

She can teach the art of taking risks in the Legislature. She can show fellow legislators how to grasp the big picture while thinking locally and she understands that doing good is the only good thing to do.

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