Just three weeks after being sworn in as the new U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, Democrat Edward Markey began a series of public events around the state today. His first stop was in Northampton.
Markey, who was criticized for a light schedule of public appearances during the special election campaign, said he plans to visit every part of the state during the August Congressional recess to learn about local issues and what Washington can do to help.
Markey walked along Main Street with Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz, chatted with people on the street and stopped into several of the locally owned specialty stores that are a fixture of downtown Northampton.
One of the Senator’s stops was at Strada, a women’s shoe store owned by Anna Bowen.
Markey told reporters that during a private meeting with Mayor Narkewicz the two discussed how the automatic federal spending cuts known as sequestration had impacted Northampton. The mayor said the affects have been felt in public safety and education.
Markey said it was critical to un-do sequestration for the good of the economy and he predicted that Republicans in the House would have a change of heart about the issue when they return to Washington in September.
A report last week from economists at the University of Massachusetts and Federal Reserve Bank of Boston blamed sequestration for a slowdown in the Massachusetts economy. It said Massachusetts is being disproportionately impacted because of its high concentration of federally-funded defense contractors and research programs.
Markey won a special election over Republican Gabriel Gomez in June to succeed now-Secretary of State John Kerry.
After spending 37 years in the U.S. House representing a district in eastern Massachusetts, Markey conceded it is a challenge to learn the rules, procedures and customs in the Senate.
Although Markey’s official swearing- in was three weeks ago in Washington, he will hold a ceremonial swearing-in Thursday night at Faneuil Hall in Boston.