^ our Citizen of the Year : Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, who epitomizes “for all of us.”

—- —- —-

Being, as we are, a journal that doggedly reports the good, the bad, and the ugly of State and city affairs, it’s fitting that Here and Sphere award those who have lived up to the calling of citizenship as we see it.

We will do this every year, starting with today. Next year we will even invite you, our readers, to nominate people for this award. What, then, do we award ?

First, that a public figure recognize that citizenship is about all of us. The self-absorbed do not get there. Second, that said official, elected or appointed, take the time to explain to the community at large what he or she is doing, and why. Third, that our prospective citizen be an innovator, bold for reform. Fourth that he or she  inspire others to do likewise. We will also award several “activists of the year.”

Our “citizens” may be legislators, City Councillors, the Governor, Attorney General, appointed officials, Mayor, and of course citizen activists.

Citizenship being about all of us : Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. (Disclosure : we are friends.) No public figure has blossomed more unexpectedly and thoroughly than Polito, who has embraced every sort of person in Massachusetts with a loving gusto uniquely hers. Honorable mention : AFL-CIO Leader Steve Tolman, who has committed as totally to Governor Baker’s opioid addiction working group as to the union members who follow him.

Citizenship taking the time to explain to the community at large : Governor Charlie Baker for his conversations to all and sundry on the need and methods for solving the opioid addiction crisis.

Citizenship as bold for reform : Suffolk Sheriff Steve Tompkins, for transforming his normally out-of-view office to an out front platform for addressing all kinds of reforms crucial to those who he calls “the most compromised in our society.” Honorable mention : Attorney General Maura Healey, who has kept her promise to be “the people’s lawyer” on all fronts.

Citizenship as inspiring others to do likewise : East Boston’s Paul Rogers. Where would East Boston be today were it not for his readiness to cover every corner of the community, publicize every story no matter how tiny, and engage every resident of the City’s most diverse neighborhood both in person and via social media, where his presence dominates ? Honorable mention : Savin Hill’s Paul Nutting, Jr.

Citizen activists of the year — all of them number one’s :  Joel Wool, tireless advocate for clean energy initiatives, always ready to reach out to those he can persuade — and usually does. Kasey Suffredini, without whose optimism and eloquence transgender people’s civil rights would probably be set aside. John Connolly, who, having lost a Mayor’s race, went on to found the state’s most significant education reform initiative, 1647fam.com, dedicated to organizing home visits by teachers — the one move most sure to close the achievement gap. Jack Kelly, the state’s most dedicated and convincing advocate for the huge addiction recovery community. Honorable mentions : Isaura Mendes, tireless advocate for gang peace in a community where peace often goes missing, and Bing Broderick, whose presence and persistence has turned Haley House Bakery and Cafe into Roxbury’s must-do meeting place..

Special award to Legislator of the Year : Boston is lucky to have two dozen legislators most of whom rank very, very high on anybody’s list. The rest of the state I know less well, but there’s many stand-outs there too.

It’s almost unfair to pick, but one Boston legislator does stand out for incredible diligence and remarkable mastery of the state budget : Dan Cullinane, who represents the 12th Suffolk. Honorable mentions : Paul Tucker of Salem, Sheila Harrington of Groton, Suzannah Whipps Lee of Athol, Hannah Elizabeth Kane of Shrewsbury, Daniel Ryan of Charlestown, State Senator  Will Brownsberger of Belmont, Michael Day of Stoneham, Adrian Madaro of East Boston, Randy Hunt of Sandwich, Evandro Carvalho of Dorchester,

Campaign of the year : the first annual ElKey awards sort of stole my thunder on this, but let me follow their lead, if I may ? Award here goes City Councillor elect Andrea Campbell, who did everything a candidate is supposed to do, and continued to do it during a very intense, often nasty final month, defeating her incumbent opponent — no slouch himself — by 30 points. Honorable mention : City Councillor-elect Annissa Essaibi George, who mastered the art of appealing convincingly to constituencies often opposed on most matters.

There are so many other people who could have taken home any of these citizenship awards. I can think of many more than I have space to list, but let’s at least give a shout to these : Linda Dorcena Forry, Mike Rush, Steve Grossman; Francisco Urena of East Boston and Tom Lyons of South Boston, Congressman Joe Kennedy, Gigi Gill of Salem, Rachel Poliner of West Roxbury; Tim McCarthy and Michael Flaherty, Matt O’Malley and Michelle Wu, Rose Arruda; Mike Dukakis and Bill Weld; Dianne Wilkerson and Malia Lazu, Maria Sanchez, Crystal Kornegay and Mark Culliton; Mayor Dan Rivera of Lawrence; Mike Swells and Audtin Diogo; Gabriel Gomez; Brian Lang and Yvonne Turner, Robert Reynolds and Paul Grogan, Steve Pagliuca and Glynn Lloyd, Rahn Dorsey and Erin Santhouse, Jake Hasson and Maureen Dahill, Ann Coppinger Carbone, Elizabeth Mahoney, and Ed Lyons; Paul Treseler and Justice Ralph Gants, Mel King, Jessica Giannino and Speaker Robert DeLeo, Carla Gomes and Philip Frattaroli, Tom Brady and David Ortiz, Frank DePasquale and Fred Taylor, Carli Carioli and Shirley Leung, Bill Evans and William Gross, Will Dickerson and Christine Poff, Jacques Dady Jean; Samuel Gebru and Magdalena Ayed, Phil Carver, the staff at St George’s Antiochian Orthodox Church in West Roxbury, Cardinal Sean O’Malley; Harvey Silverglate and Jennifer Levi; Mary Pierce and Denella Clark; Keith McDermott; Tina Dtanton and Ted Dooley; Constance Waverly; Rady Mom and Nam Pham; Ed Coppinger, Jay Kaufman of Lexington; Sue O’Connell, Juliette Kayyem, and above all, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who could easily fit into any of the four citizenship categories and whose dedication and boldness we should all celebrate in summing up this first Annual Citizenship Awards.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere



  1. Here are my choices for these awards:
    Campaign of the Year- Caroline Colarusso, Stoneham Board of Selectmen. After narrowly losing a State Rep. race last year after her fellow Republican former Governor Bill Weld endorsed her Democrat opponent (I guess she didn’t kiss his pinky ring), Colarusso came back and not only won a seat on the Board of Selectmen, she topped the ticket by almost 1,000 votes. Her perseverance is to be admired and I beleieve she will run for higher office again.
    Legislator of the Year- Geoff Diehl, State Rep. from Whitman. Last year, he spearheaded the effort to end the effort to tie gas taxes to the rate of inflation with Question 1. This year, he worked with former Gubernatorial candidate Evan Falchuk to stop the boondoggle that was the effort to bring the 2022 Summer Olympics to Boston. Realizing that just about every place that has hosted the Olympics in recent memory has been left with massive debts, Diehl recognized that with our already existing financial difficulties, we simply couldn’t afford it. The bid was eventually scrapped. While his efforts to win a special election for a State Senate seat fell short, Diehl is still a taxpayers best friend on Beacon Hill.
    Citizen Activist of the Year- Ion Baleanu from Middleboro. Ion is a immigrant from Romania. He and his family lived there under the iron-fisted rule of Communists. They are well aware of what happens when a government believes in wealth redistribution and the evils (in their minds) of capitalism. Ion has inspired many people with his story of his family’s escape from Romania and he has dedicated himself to fighting for the cause of liberty. Currently, he is organizing the statewide effort for Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s Presidential campaign.
    Citizen of the Year- While Karyn Polito is a pretty good choice, I will tackle this from the area of taking time to explain to the community at large you mentioned and choose my good friend State Rep. Shaunna O’Connell from Taunton. In a day and age when most elected officials would speak to the press as littlle as possible, Shaunna is out there giving as many interviews as possible to discuss what the legislature is doing or not doing. She also puts out newsletters 3-4 times a year to further keep people up to speed on things as well. She also attends just about every charitable event in Taunton and Easton as well. Volunteering at soup kitchens, fundraisers for different charities, civic pride events, etc. Nobody can question her committment to the people.


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