House Speaker Robert DeLeo patted Majority Leader Ron Mariano on the arm during a legislative briefing in February 2020. Photo by [Sam Doran | State House News Service

One day after House Speaker Robert DeLeo resigned, the Speaker Ronald Mariano era began.

The House elected Mariano, a 74-year-old Quincy Democrat and longtime DeLeo deputy, as its next speaker on Wednesday with 123 votes, and he takes control of the House six days before the end of the unusual 2020-2021 lawmaking session.

All 31 Republican members of the House voted for Minority Leader Brad Jones as speaker rather than Mariano. Independent Rep. Susannah Whipps of Athol chose Mariano. Democrat Rep. Denise Provost of Somerville voted present, while Democrat Reps. Jonathan Hecht and Tami Gouveia did not appear to cast votes.

Mariano, in his first speech as speaker, cited COVID-19 response as his top priority.

“All of us have faced challenges, whether it be with at-home learning, providing for the oldest and youngest in our care, or with maintaining our own mental health. And certainly no one has sacrificed more than our frontline health care workers, public safety personnel, and even our grocery store clerks,” Mariano said. “The climb back to where we were just one year ago will be a long one, but this is job number one: meeting the needs of each resident throughout this time of crisis.”

Mariano named other issues he wants to address, including the lack of affordable housing supply — a topic that he said could be addressed with “meaningful zoning reform” — rising pharmaceutical costs, strengthening community hospitals, and investing in offshore wind.

He will need to be re-elected as speaker Wednesday at the start of the 2021-2022 two-year session, but must first navigate the final days of this two-year session.

“Speaker Mariano has long been a leader on critical issues facing Massachusetts,” NAIOP-MA CEO Tamara Small said in a statement. “During this difficult time for the Commonwealth, Speaker Mariano’s experience and commitment to residents, businesses and communities across the state is vital to our recovery. We look forward to working with Speaker Mariano and his leadership team into 2021 and beyond.”

Mariano Elected House Speaker

by State House News Service time to read: 1 min