Rep. St. Fleur will be sorely missed

The news this week that Rep. Marie St. Fleur has decided not to seek reelection this fall is not good news for the community. In her ten years in office, she has been a stellar advocate for the people of her district, for the broader Dorchester and Mattapan community, and more broadly for the citizens of the state. A native of Haiti, she moved here to Uphams Corner with her family as a young girl, and was educated in local schools. She took her college degree at UMass-Amherst, and also has a law degree.

St. Fleur’s career did not begin in elective office; she worked for several years as an assistant district attorney prosecuting criminals in Middlesex County, and later served as an assistant attorney general. When her friend, former Rep. Charlotte Golar-Richie, stepped down to work in community development for the city of Boston, she had to be persuaded to offer her candidacy for the state rep’s job.

That she has decided now to leave behind active politics came as no surprise. As the former dynamic chair of the House Education Committee, she places a high value on education; as a working mom of three school age children – one in college, one high school, one in grammar school – there is a pile of tuition bills looming for her family in the coming years.

Also, the terrible destruction in Haiti has caused St. Fleur, as well as many others in the Haitian diaspora, to assess what is best for that country, and to consider how they can be helpful there.

Typically self-effacing, St. Fleur says it’s time to step aside and make room for the next generation of political leadership. “I don’t want to be in the way of anyone. The job can’t be done half-hearted,” she told Ward 15 Democrats last week. “Government is stuck right now” and needs “young people to elbow some of the old folks out.”

In a statement this week, she said “I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to the people of the 5th Suffolk District for their years of support, especially the volunteers, staff and many others. I have made and strengthened remarkable friendships with people throughout Dorchester, Roxbury and beyond who consistently act on their commitment to a strong community that has never ceased to inspire me. It has been an honor to serve … and I am proud of my accomplishments at the State House. I leave office with mixed emotions, given that this district still faces challenges. I welcome the opportunity to support a new era of leadership and representation for the people of our district.”

Recently returned from a seven-day visit to what she called “the devastated city of Port-au-Prince Haiti,” St. Fleur said she will appear on a panel at UMass-Boston on Friday night to tell about what she saw and heard there. The meeting will take place at UMass-Boston’s Lipke Auditorium at 6 p.m. Appearing with her tomorrow night will be
Donna Barry of Partners in Health, the NGO that for years has worked in Haiti, and Yvon Alteon, the head of a Telediaspora, a Boston cable program.

We wish Rep. St. Fleur well in whatever direction her career takes her. Ad multos annos, Marie, and thank you for your splendid service.
– Ed Forry