MARTIN GAVINJohn Lepper
will leave his
desk, above, in the house chamber after 14 years as Attleboros State Representative."The experience is something you don't forget.It affects your outlook on things," he
said.He taught at Providence College after his return, while living in Attleboro and finishing his Ph.D.He
graduated in 1971 and joined the family business a couple of years before the deep recession of 1973.
"My brother and I struggled with the company.These were tough years," he
worked with his
brother until he
was elected state representative in 1994.He
recalls those years as a training field for his
future elective duties.
"Running a business helps you get an orientation," he
said."If you're successful, you learn things about entrepreneurship and economics."
Lepper's first governmental experience was in 1986, when he
was appointed to the Attleboro Planning Board
.Elected to the city council in 1987, he served seven years there working on several committees.His
hardest and most rewarding time was as chairman of the finance committee during the recession of the early '90s.
Charles Caron supported Lepper
because of his resume and knowledge.
Caron feels the same way about Lepper's
performance as a state representative.
...Lepper ran for state representative in 1994 against Kai Shang, a former mayor and Lepper's friend.
won and until last year, never had an opponent.
"I never came here with any concrete goal in mind.You do the best you can to focus on that," he
said."My own personal life resulted in focusing on things I never thought about."Lepper
second wife, Joan, in 1973 and raised six children.They are now raising their two grandchildren, Erinn and Emily.
Over the years, he
has been well known for his
personal and political involvement in adoption and grandparents rights.He
has sponsored bills since 1994 to provide state assistance to grandparents raising their grandchildren along the lines of what is provided in the foster parent system.
Although the legislation failed several times, Lepper
was rewarded for his
efforts when his
proposal to create a commission to study those issues passed in the Senate in February.He
has also been active in getting state funds for his
district, while opposing tax increases and bigger state budgets.
successes, was to get the state to pay for a federally mandated water filtration plant in Attleboro.He
fought back a tax increase for MBTA funding, decreasing Attleboro's participation from $300,000 to $61,000 and helped stop construction of an extension of the train route in the city.
...For Lepper, the essence of being a representative is to help his constituents.
"Public service is a privilege," he
There have been hard times for Lepper
as a member of the minority party.It may be the only thing he
regrets among all the years.
is a very hierarchical institution, and we don't have an operating two-party system," he
said."It is not equal enough."
But that feeling is overcome by what he
learned and did on Beacon Hill.
"It's like being a Renaissance man.You are involved in so many different things," he
said."If you are intrigued about issues, which I am, one day you'll learn about life sciences, and the other about something else."
Now that he
is leaving, Lepper
is looking forward to spending more time with his
Smiling, sitting in his
large leather chair beneath two prints of sailboats on the wall, Lepper
looks forward to travelling, fishing and canoeing with his
wife and granddaughters, as they used to do.
"There are so many things I neglected - like cleaning the house," he