Troy Clarkson

I first met Senator Vinny deMacedo more than a decade ago, when I accepted the position as the county administrator for Plymouth County, America’s oldest county government. Vinny was then already an experienced public servant, having served for many years as Plymouth’s state representative. Through regional efforts and the fact that the county seat was (is) in Plymouth, we developed a good working relationship. Then I got to know him as a person. His warmth, his integrity, and his rare and genuine commitment to simply doing good things—large or small, seen or unseen—helped turn that professional association into a deep and abiding friendship.

Over many breakfasts we’ve shared our hopes and dreams. Over many strategic discussions we’ve shared a common vision for a better tomorrow. Sure, our philosophies sometimes differed on the nature of the solution, but our commitment on getting there never did—and as he prepares for the next chapter in his remarkable journey of public service, that’s the legacy he’ll leave, an unwavering commitment to focusing on the solution, no matter the issue, no matter the personalities, no matter the difficulty. The announcement that Vinny is leaving his seat in the Senate leaves a gaping hole in advocacy and leadership in our region, but the news that he will now dedicate that same energy and ability to higher education at Bridgewater State University will have long-lasting and positive impacts on our communities, our workforce, and our economy.

Governor Charlie Baker agrees. In the official announcement from Vinny’s office, the governor noted that “Vinny deMacedo is an exemplary public servant and while he will be sorely missed in the Legislature, I am happy he is bringing his talents to one of the jewels of the Commonwealth’s higher education system. He cares about others and that’s why he is a pleasure to be around and to work with. And any organization is lucky to have him as part of the team.” We’ve been lucky to have him as part of the Falmouth team for the last five years.

When Vinny decided to run for the state Senate and represent Falmouth, I knew that he would bring the same affability and humility to his work on behalf of Falmouth that he did for Plymouth. In a retrospective look at his work a year ago in this space, I noted that “Vinny deMacedo was a virtual unknown to Falmouth when he was elected to fill the gigantic and legendary shoes of former Senate President Therese Murray four (now five) years ago. He now is not only well known in our community but is well-admired and well liked because of his affable approach to his work as a senator and his infectious and upbeat demeanor. His combination of humility and dedication make him an invaluable benefit to Falmouth.” That pretty much sums up not only his approach to government, but his approach to life. It will serve him well in the halls of higher education.

As news spread of Vinny’s departure from the Senate, similar messages—across the political spectrum—sent a chorus of friendship and praise. “I have enjoyed my close working relationship with Sen. deMacedo and have appreciated his leadership in working across the aisle with the rest of the Cape delegation,” explained Falmouth Selectman Susan Moran, echoing a common theme of bipartisanship and collaboration that is a true rarity in public life today. State Representative Dylan Fernandes of Falmouth, a Democrat, also echoed Vinny’s commitment to working together, sharing that “we always transcended partisanship to support Falmouth.” So many elected officials these days create derision through division. Vinny has a knack for creating consensus through kindness. His core strength is not his political philosophy: it’s his commitment to the human spirit. His personal inspirational story informs his approach to every issue.

Born in Cape Verde, he and his family came to the United States when he was an infant. He worked hard, was educated at Silver Lake schools on the South Shore and at King’s College in New York, and is today a successful businessman in addition to his work in the Legislature, giving him a host of perspectives and experiences that contribute to his grateful approach to each day.

And speaking of gratitude, of all the issues on which he has been an advocate and champion, Vinny’s work on addiction has been particularly meaningful. He understands that those who suffer from addiction are good people with a bad disease who, in the famous words of Robert F. Kennedy, need a hand up, not a handout. After the recent forum on sober housing at Falmouth High School, I had this to say about Vinny’s approach: “State Sen. Vinny deMacedo, who has been a passionate and persistent advocate for funding, treatment, and creative solutions to this public health crisis, simply noted, ‘People aren’t throwaways.’ In that brief statement, the senator provided a succinct but profound explanation of why we need to continue to discuss, debate and search for solutions on this issue.” In that powerful acknowledgment, Vinny encapsulated his approach to every issue—his work is about the people he serves far more than the issues he tackles. Nobody is a throwaway in Vinny’s world, even those with whom he disagrees. That’s his most important legacy, and a challenge to the person who will fill his shoes to carry forth that same commitment to finding the humanity in every issue.

Another legendary local summed up Vinny’s service with the highest of compliments, considering that Vinny lives in Plymouth. “I really feel that Vinny is truly a Cape Codder. He has represented this district with honor and integrity,” said restaurateur and philanthropist Bill Zammer, himself a tireless advocate and activist for building a better community one day, one event at a time.

So thank you, Vinny, for being that true Cape Codder and working for all of us with honor and integrity, and, most of all, thank you for being a friend and part of the Falmouth team.

Mr. Clarkson may be contacted at votetroy99@aol.com and followed on Twitter @TroyClarkson59.

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