St. Fleur joining Menino cabinet

State Rep. Marie St. Fleur, an Uphams Corner Democrat who announced in February that she wouldn’t be running for reelection, will join Mayor Thomas Menino’s cabinet this summer.

As Menino’s chief of advocacy and strategic investment, she will coordinate education, job creation, and immigration initiatives supported by local, state, and federal programs and investments. St. Fleur will be succeeding Michael Contompasis, who is stepping down as director of Menino’s Intergovernmental Relations Office for work in the private sector.

“I get to continue to advance a lot of the issues that I have been so very concerned about,” including helping underperforming students, she told the Reporter. “I get an opportunity to not simply work on the policy but to also assist in the implementation.”

Starting in June, she will oversee the Intergovernmental Relations Offices and be involved with the city’s efforts in aiding the earthquake-stricken nation of Haiti. Other offices and issues under her purview include the education initiative “Circle of Promise,” the Small and Local Business Enterprise Office and the Office of New Bostonians.

Her annual salary will be $120,000, nearly double what she makes as a state legislator. In his job, Contompasis did not take a salary. In announcing that she wasn’t running for reelection back in February, St. Fleur noted that she has a daughter in college, another “on her way,” and a son about to start high school.

Several Democratic candidates, including Boston schoolteacher Barry Lawton and community activist Carlos Henriquez, and Republican candidate Sean Malloy, have since emerged.
St. Fleur, a Haitian-American, has served in the House since 1999, holding a wide range of posts, including the chair of the House Education Committee and vice chair of the Ways and Means Committee when House Speaker Robert DeLeo was chair. “I’m going to miss Marie,” said state Rep. Marty Walsh (D-Savin Hill), a colleague and close friend. “She’ll do her job well.”
In 2006, she was tapped by then-Attorney General Thomas Reilly as a running mate in his bid for the governor’s office. But she dropped out within 24 hours after media outlets reported she was behind in student loans and taxes.

While in the mayor’s office, St. Fleur’s role in overseeing state relations efforts will be somewhat restricted for a year because state conflict of interest laws limit how much she can lobby the Legislature.

St. Fleur and Menino are said to be close friends, and she was one of his top campaigners during his reelection bid for an historic fifth term last year. She also has friends in the White House, including Patrick Gaspard, its political director and a fellow Haitian-American.

“Our efforts to turn around our schools, create job opportunities, and invest in all Bostonians require unprecedented coordination,” Menino said in a statement. “Rep. St. Fleur will be an effective advocate from the White House to Beacon Hill to the streets of Boston and she will help make sure we maximize tools for our neighborhoods, and that those resources and reforms translate into results for our neighbors.”

The move ends months of speculation of what her next role will be. Rumors swirled that she was taking a job in the Menino administration as far back as January.

But the move is also likely to set off fresh waves of speculation of what the future holds for her whenever Menino decides not to run for reelection, with some City Hall observers musing that St. Fleur could become an early favorite to succeed him once that happens.

St. Fleur, who was easily reelected in 2006 and 2008 to the Fifth Suffolk district seat, had also expressed interest in running for Congress while U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Somerville) made his unsuccessful bid for the open U.S. Senate seat in last fall’s Democratic primary.

“Marie’s recent work responding to the tragic earthquake in Haiti demonstrates her exceptional leadership and advocacy skills,” Gov. Deval Patrick said in a statement. “The mayor and the people of Boston are lucky to have her on their side.”

Material from State House News Service was used in this report.