One day after House Speaker Robert DeLeo resigned, the Speaker Ronald Mariano era began.
The House elected Mariano, a 74-year-old Quincy Democrat and longtime DeLeo deputy, as its next speaker on Wednesday with 123 votes, and he takes control of the House six days before the end of the unusual 2020-2021 lawmaking session.
All 31 Republican members of the House voted for Minority Leader Brad Jones as speaker rather than Mariano. Independent Representative Susannah Whipps of Athol chose Mariano. Representative Denise Provost of Somerville, a Democrat, voted present, while Democratic Representatives Jonathan Hecht and Tami Gouveia did not appear to cast votes.
Mariano, in his first speech as speaker, cited the COVID-19 response as his top priority.
“All of us have faced challenges, whether it be with at-home learning, providing for the oldest and youngest in our care, or with maintaining our own mental health,” Mariano said. “And certainly no one has sacrificed more than our frontline health care workers, public safety personnel, and even our grocery store clerks. The climb back to where we were just one year ago will be a long one, but this is job number one: meeting the needs of each resident throughout this time of crisis.”
Mariano named other issues he wants to address, including the lack of affordable housing supply — a topic that he said could be addressed with “meaningful zoning reform” — rising pharmaceutical costs, strengthening community hospitals, and investing in offshore wind.
He will need to be re-elected as speaker at the start of the 2021-2022 two-year session.