Speaker of the House Robert A. DeLeo, or “boss” as he’s affectionately known by his staff is commonly known as one of the most powerful people in Massachusetts politics. However, he strives for much more than that. Speaker DeLeo has represented Winthrop and parts of Revere since 1991, and is dedicated to improving the quality of life in these traditionally underserved cities by focusing on economic policies that stimulate not just the economies of his district, but the commonwealth’s economy as a whole. These development packages focused on the redevelopment of brownfield properties and funds for middle-skilled job training. Speaker DeLeo has also been favorable towards the gambling industry as he believes it will create entry-level jobs. In addition, The Speaker has been instrumental in helping Massachusetts reduce harmful emissions whilst maintaining a reliable power grid, and enacting rigorous gun control such that Massachusetts is considered by The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence to have one of the best gun regulation programs in the United States.
Rewinding, way before his ascension to Speaker, Robert DeLeo was born in East Boston on the 27th of March, 1950. Both of DeLeo’s parents were Italian immigrants, giving him a unique perspective on politics and the “American Dream.” Later, DeLeo became a student at Boston Latin School, where he was involved in politics already, campaigning for notable classmate Larry DiCara to become class president by taping a sign to his cast from a baseball injury reading “disabled for DiCara.” A couple of Speaker DeLeo’s colleagues have told me that the Speaker can aggravate them by constantly touting BLS as “the best education in the world.” And the Speaker is not just idly talking. He is regularly supportive of BLS, even judging Prize Declamation, and of course, sponsoring a BLS Ward Fellow every year. After BLS, the Speaker continued his education at Northeastern University, and Suffolk Law School. DeLeo’s education at these three quality institutions has motivated him to advocate for improved educational access for youth across the Commonwealth, and, upon graduation, each public school kid in DeLeo’s district receives a hand-signed note of congratulations. DeLeo then went on to serve on Winthrop’s Board of Selectmen, before being elected to represent the 20th Suffolk district, and later the 19th. In the House, he chaired the Committee on Bills in the Third Reading, the Joint Committee on Local Affairs, and the House Committee on Ethics. In 2005, DeLeo was appointed chair of the House Ways and means committee. He was elected Speaker of the House in 2009, after former Speaker DiMassi retired amidst a corruption scandal.
Speaker DeLeo is many things, an advocate for the working class, a colleague to some, that guy trying to “take our guns or marijuana away” to a few, a talking head on the TV, or the political guy on the podium to others, a man who chews on a cigarette perpetually yet never lights it to all, and a person admirable for their ability to reach across the political aisle to me. However, through all the politics, it is also important to remember that Robert DeLeo is a proud resident of Winthrop and father of two successful and engaged children, Rob DeLeo, a professor of Global Studies at Bentley University, and Rachele DeLeo, who is a Child Life Specialist, and focused on helping deaf children.