Flanagan Wins State House Election After A Decade In Public Service

By: Bronwen Walsh

Topics: Politics

Newly elected State Rep. Chris Flanagan (D-Barnstable) in Dennis Port. BRONWEN WALSH PHOTO

BREWSTER — Dennis Select Board member Chris Flanagan is about to be a very busy guy. Not only was he recently elected to represent the First Barnstable District, he and his wife Ashley are expecting twins next month.

So it’s no wonder that providing affordable housing, child care and nutritious food to his constituents — which include Brewster — are a high-priority.

“There are a lot of issues here on the Cape and Islands,” he said Monday. “In fact, 70 percent of Dennis public school students are at or below the poverty level.”

Under the Healey Administration, Flanagan said he hopes to revive the Common Start Bill, which would establish a framework toward delivering increased access to affordable, high-quality early education and child care to Massachusetts families over a multi-year timeline.

Flanagan said he also shares Senator Julian Cyr and the Cape delegation’s commitment to providing more workforce and affordable housing on the Cape and Islands — an issue he and Ashley have felt acutely. They initially rented a 700-square-foot house, and it took three years of searching to find and buy a larger home, and two more years to find childcare.

“Housing, workforce development, and climate resiliency would be a good fit” for his State House committee work, he said, although committee appointments are at the discretion of the Speaker Ron Mariano and the House leadership team.

Early Career

Born in Easton, Flanagan lost his mother to cancer when he was just 13. His family had a summer house in Dennis Port.

A 2010 graduate of Emmanuel College, Flanagan worked extensively for Governor Deval Patrick's campaign and the Democratic National Convention before interning in Boston for two years for the late Senator Ted Kennedy. Flanagan interned at Kennedy’s D.C. office in the summer of 2008, and then returned to Boston, where he worked until the senator passed away and Senator Scott Brown was elected.

Flanagan then waited tables in Washington and worked for Senator William “Mo” Cowan, who was formerly Patrick’s chief of staff. Flanagan subsequently became office manager for Senator John Kerry, managing the office's budget, personnel and legal affairs while pursuing a master's degree in national security through night classes at the Naval War College.

When Kerry became secretary of state during the Obama Administration, Flanagan worked on the State Department’s first Our Ocean Conference. Now an annual global conference, the forum addresses ocean acidification, pollution, coastal resiliency and water quality.

“It’s also how my wife and I met,” he added.

He and Ashley moved from Washington to Dennis in 2016, and Flanagan has served on the Dennis Select Board since May 2018, including three years as chairman. They now live in South Dennis with their daughter, two-and-a-half-year-old Aubrey, and he serves as CEO of the Homebuilders and Remodelers Association of Cape Cod.

Since March, he has hosted “Fridays with Flanagan” on his Facebook site, introducing readers to many mid Cape nonprofits and contemporary challenges. For instance, he favors offering state and local incentives for property redevelopment.

Flanagan won campaign endorsements from the Massachusetts Teachers Association, the Massachusetts Nurses Association, Massachusetts and Northern New England Laborers, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, and the Massachusetts Association of State Engineers and Scientists, as well as from former State Representative Cleon Turner and former State Senator and Cape Air CEO Dan Wolf.

To get to know his new constituents, Flanagan attended the five-hour Brewster Special Town Meeting on Nov. 14.

“Dennis town meetings tend to go by quickly. One lasted just 25 minutes,” he said, “so it was nice to see Brewster’s respectful dialog.”

In addition, he said, “I love the fact that we’ve kept with the hybrid model — especially for working people and families, to give them a greater opportunity to participate” in town meetings.

Flanagan’s orientation as a state rep is scheduled for Dec. 14 to 16 at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and the twins are due Dec. 22.