After 16 years of serving the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Republican Rep. Robert Hargraves is gracefully saying goodbye to his constituents and to those he has worked with through the years.
Kicking off his farewells at the Statehouse in Boston, he gave his final speech on the House floor as he recalled the time spent preserving the integrity of the General Court.
“The institution of the General Court of the Commonwealth is the foundation of everything we believe in,” Hargraves proclaimed as he stood before fellow representatives Dec. 16.
“I have enjoyed serving this district more than anyone could imagine. This has been a wonderful ride with a few potholes here and there, as with any journey. The long ride, however, has run smoothly.”
Hargraves is serving his eighth term as a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, and has tirelessly represented the people of the 1st Middlesex District since 1994. This includes Ayer, Dunstable, Groton, Pepperell and Townsend, which are all in the county of Middlesex.
He is a husband to Ellen of 48 years, the proud father of three, two girls and one boy, and grandfather to nine — six girls and three boys.
“Sixteen years of baffling, erratic schedules have captured one-third of our married life. My wife has endured these schedules with grace, wit and sleep,” said Hargraves.
After retirement, he plans to spend a lot more time doing things that he has otherwise not been able to do. The other day, Hargraves attended his grandson’s soccer game, which would have been less than likely on a typical legislative day.
“I’m looking forward to doing more things together,” said Ellen. “Life is always full of changes and we learn to adapt to those changes. We’ve learned a lot of patience and now we get to spend more time together.”
Prior to taking his seat on Beacon Hill, Hargraves dedicated 33 years in the educational field, and also several years of being involved in the public-service sector. He taught math for eight years and was the principal of various high schools in the district for 25 years. Hargraves spent six years as town moderator for Groton, seven years as a member on the Nashoba Community Hospital Fundraising Committee, 16 years as Groton town selectman, 18 years as a member of Groton’s Commission for the Handicapped, and is a past member of Rotary International for 11 years.
As he recalled all that he had experienced in life, he said, “You learn to know what you don’t know. You learn to listen.”
He said that a wise philosopher from West Groton advised him that you don’t listen through your mouth; you listen with your ears. By listening to the needs of his constituents, he has been able to accomplish projects such as the Pepperell Covered Bridge.
Hargraves has been a strong leader to the community, and he is a strong believer in a good work ethic. During his 16-year legislative career, he has served on several committees. To name a few, the House Committee on Ways and Means (Assistant Ranking Republican), the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing (Ranking Republican), the House Committee on Post Audit and Oversight, the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government, and the House Committee on Personnel and Administration.
“The thing that I prided myself most in was getting things done,” he said in an interview.
As an effective legislator, Hargraves has been well-known and respected for his work on fiscal accountability and education.
He believes that the foundation of the future rests on education, and balancing the budget. He argued that it must be controlled or else the future of the state, and the nation, will be weakened altogether.
“I don’t believe you have to keep putting money into the schools for students to have a better education,” said Hargraves. “I believe that the best education comes from the quality of teachers.”
He has had direct oversight upon more than 25 state and local budget proposals, and he has served on several education committees, including Special Education and School Building Assistance.
As the end draws near for Rep. Hargraves, however, a warranted concern of his is to make the change of representatives as smooth of a transition as it was smooth during the “long ride” he mentioned in his speech.
He announced that his legislative aide since February, Sara Walkovich, will continue to work with Republican Rep-elect Sheila C. Harrington who will be sworn in in January. Walkovich has familiarized herself with the needs of the district as well as with the constituent issues. Hargraves is confident that Miss Walkovich’s work experience will help to guide the change in state representatives.
“This transition to the new representative has been at the forefront since my decision to retire in October 2009.”
After growing up in Ashby and residing in Groton for the last 48 years, Hargraves has grown very close, and very fond, of the people within his district. He thanks everyone who has helped make his time on Beacon Hill such a great success. One of his proudest accomplishments was the passage of the Lyme Disease Bill, which he filed.
As he pays his final farewells to a life of state politics, he says that he is excited to “sit back, relax, and think about what’s next.”
Quoting an oft-heard prayer, Hargraves wishes, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Godspeed.”