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Which R.I. politician was voted ‘most talkative’ in high school?

Hint: He has achieved the goals he set as a high school senior in Woonsocket, R.I. -- and lived up to his ‘most talkative’ superlative as well

K. Joseph Shekarchi, a Warwick Democrat who serves as House majority leader, is poised to become the new Rhode Island House Speaker.
K. Joseph Shekarchi, a Warwick Democrat who serves as House majority leader, is poised to become the new Rhode Island House Speaker.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

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Happy Monday and welcome to Rhode Map, your daily guide to everything happening in the Ocean State. I’m Edward Fitzpatrick and I’m pretty sure Dan McGowan took the week off because the New York Giants are in first place (with a losing record, BTW). Follow me on Twitter @FitzProv or send tips to Edward.Fitzpatrick@globe.com.

ICYMI: Rhode Island was up to 53,954 confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday, after adding 463 new cases. The most recent overall daily test-positive rate was 6.8 percent, and the first-time positive rate was 23.2 percent. The state announced six more deaths, bringing the total to 1,346. There were 319 people in the hospital.


In high school, he was voted “most talkative.” Now he is poised to become the Speaker.

K. Joseph Shekarchi's senior portrait from the 1980 yearbook for Mount St. Charles Academy in Woonsocket, R.I.
K. Joseph Shekarchi's senior portrait from the 1980 yearbook for Mount St. Charles Academy in Woonsocket, R.I.Mount St. Charles Academy yearbook photo

K. Joseph Shekarchi had two life goals in mind when he graduated from high school, according to the 1980 yearbook for Mount St. Charles Academy, a Catholic school in Woonsocket, R.I.: He planned to go to Suffolk University, and he hoped to have a career in government.

Forty years later, Shekarchi has both an undergraduate degree and a law degree from Suffolk, and the Warwick Democrat has locked up his party’s support to become House Speaker in January.

In an interview, Shekarchi traced his interest in government to a current affairs class taught by Julian Mitchell at Mount.

There was no book,” Shekarchi recalled. “You got a student discount to subscribe to the Providence Journal. So you would pick up the paper, and (Mitchell) would say, ‘Go on, pick an article, read it, and talk to the class about it.’ "

At the time, the headlines were filled with news about President Jimmy Carter and the Iranian hostage crisis, said Shekarchi, whose father is Iranian-American and whose late mother was Italian-American.


In a 2015 Journal column, Shekarchi said he voted in his first presidential election soon after graduating from Mount in 1980. “I think I voted for Reagan,” Shekarchi said at the time. “I was mad at the way Carter had mishandled the Iranian hostage crisis.”

But Shekarchi forged a career in Democratic politics, beginning in law school. In 1990, a Journal reporter caught up to him as he ate spinach pasta in the Suffolk Law basement cafeteria. He handed the reporter business cards for his small real-estate business and his work as an “entrepreneur,” but he made clear that he dreamed of a career in politics.

“It’s the ‘in’ thing in Rhode Island,” Shekarchi said then. “It’s Rhode Island’s religion. It’s Rhode Island’s favorite indoor sport.”

He served as assistant city solicitor for Warwick Mayor Charles Donovan from 1990 to 1992. He led the Rhode Island campaign for Paul Tsongas’ unsuccessful presidential bid in 1992, and from 1992 to 1995 he was legislative director for Governor Bruce Sundlun.

After “a little bit of a hiatus” from politics to build his law practice, he won a House seat in 2012.Shekarchi became House Labor Committee chairman, then Democratic Majority Leader. And on Jan. 5, Mount’s “most talkative” student will make headlines himself when he is expected to be elected House Speaker — what many consider Rhode Island’s most powerful political position.



⚓ This week’s Ocean State Innovators Q&A is with Dana Ginestet, chief program officer for the College Crusade of Rhode Island, which won the $25,000 second prize in the Nov. 12 Nonprofit Innovation Lab pitch contest. E-mail me if you have someone I should talk to for this weekly interview. Read more.

Amanda Milkovits reports on how this Thanksgiving in the pandemic gave rise to new traditions like Zoom contests and fresh anxiety for newbie cooks. Read more.

⚓ A Providence woman was rescued Saturday after she was injured while hiking on the Diana Baths Trail in the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire. Read more.

⚓ New England town meetings provided an early blueprint for American democracy. But now, amid the pandemic, public bodies must find ways to maintain the expanded access offered by live-streaming meetings while addressing drawbacks, such as limited access to public documents and officials. Those were some of the points made during a Sunday night online panel discussion, “Reimagining Public Meetings,” hosted by Common Cause Rhode Island.


Courts: While Rhode Island Governor Gina M. Raimondo will soon have two Supreme Court vacancies to fill, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker is getting the chance to fill all seven Supreme Judicial Court seats. Matt Stout reports Baker has prioritized life and legal experiences over Ivy League credentials and ideology. Read more.

Sports: The Giants weren’t the only NFL team to win in ugly fashion on Sunday. Ben Volin describes how the New England Patriots were handed a gift by the Cardinals. Read more.


Politics: Jazmine Ulloa explains that while he breaks from Catholic doctrine on abortion, Joe Biden is expected to draw on a branch of his faith that is strongly rooted in social justice and reform for his governing philosophy. Read more.

Movies: You might think that “The Crown” and “Queen’s Gambit” are the only things worth watching these days, but Ty Burr is here to highlight 10 movies worth your time. Read more.

Health: The Globe Magazine says Germany has lessons for us when it comes to containing the coronavirus. Read more.


Each day, Rhode Map offers a cheat sheet breaking down what’s happening in Rhode Island. Have an idea? E-mail us at RInews@globe.com.

⚓ The Rhode Island Board of Elections will meet at 11:30 a.m. to vote on the certification of Rhode Island’s 2020 general election results in state and federal races. The board meeting will be streamed via Zoom. To join, visit: https://elections.ri.gov/calendar/meetings.php

⚓ At 4 p.m., Brown University will host a virtual event, “Understanding and Effectively Addressing Inequities in Health,” with Professor David R. Williams, chair of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences. The event is free but registration is required.

⚓ At 5 p.m., the Providence City Council Finance Committee will meet for ongoing city budget deliberations.


⚓ Do you ❤ Rhode Map? Your subscription is what makes it possible. To mark Black Friday and Cyber Monday, BostonGlobe.com has a remarkable deal for new subscribers: Six months (26 weeks) of access to the entire Globe online for just $1. Not $1 a week; $1 for all 26 weeks. The offer is good through Monday, and again, it’s for new subscribers only. You can sign up here.

Edward Fitzpatrick can be reached at edward.fitzpatrick@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @FitzProv.