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About Senator Kennedy

For Kennedy, another threshold (Boston Globe June 29, 2008)

Tom Kennedy is a lifelong Brocktonian.  The youngest of four children born to Robert and Mary (Cruise) Kennedy, he has always been a proud resident of historic Ward 2, the central neighborhood of the City of Brockton, and home to such illustrious citizens such as Rocco Marchiagianio, a.k.a. Rocky Marciano, John “Buck” O’Brien of the early Boston Red Sox, and Rev. John Sheehan, O.M.I., a heroic missionary priest from World War II, among others.  

Tom lives in the Cruise family homestead at 92 Winthrop Street in the house his Irish immigrant grandparents purchased before World War I.  He is proud of his working class roots, and is readily acknowledged as a public official who has “never forgotten where he came from.”

Tom received his education from the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth at St. Patrick’s School and the Sisters of St. Joseph at Cardinal Spellman High School, graduating in 1969. He then entered the Missionary Congregation of Oblates of Mary Immaculate to begin his studies for the Catholic Priesthood.  In the course of his studies, a tragic accident in 1971 left Tom a quadriplegic and confined to a wheelchair.  After a long series of hospitalizations and rehabilitation, he returned home to Brockton in 1973.

Mayor David Crosby recognized special qualities in young Tom, and appointed him to his staff as the City of Brockton’s Ombudsman, a position that he excelled in and held from 1974 to 1978. Tom Kennedy’s political career began with his election as a City Councilor from Ward 2 in 1978 where he served with distinction for 8 years.  Among his many accomplishments during his Council tenure, he successfully fought for zoning protection for the historic Spring/Highland Street neighborhood, was responsible for the erection of the Rocky Marciano Memorial as well as upgrading and improving the baseball facilities at the James Edgar Playground.         

Congressman Brian Donnelly tapped Kennedy to serve as a Congressional Legislative Aide in his Brockton District office, calling on Tom to use his expertise in constituent services to represent the Congressman’s services to the people of Brockton.

In 1983, Tom Kennedy threw his hat in the ring as a Democratic candidate for State Representative from the 9th Plymouth District, joining a wide field of well-known and popular contenders for the open House seat.  This election has gone down in the annals of Brockton politics as one of the cleanest, politest, and most effective political races on record.  After Kennedy’s solid win, political history was made when each one of the other 10 candidates publicly and enthusiastically endorsed Tom as the Democratic Standard Bearer, which carried Tom through the General Election against his Republican challenger.

Tom Kennedy served the people of the 9th Plymouth District with care, commitment and compassion for the over two decades.  He rose through the ranks of the legislature, serving as Chairman of the House Committee on Post Audit and Oversight, Vice-Chairman of the powerful and prestigious Committee on House Ways and Means, and became Assistant Majority Leader and ranking Senior Veteran of the 160 member House. 

In his first term as a state senator, Senator Kennedy co-chaired the Election Laws Committee, and served on several others, including the Senate Committee on Ways & Means. Currently, Senator Kennedy is the Senate chair of the Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure Committee and sits on several others committees, including, the Senate Committee on Ways & Means and the Joint Committee on Public Service.

He is a graduate of Stonehill College and received his Master’s Degree from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.    

Among his many awards, Tom Kennedy has been singled out with the Award for Outstanding Public Service by the Martin Institute of Society and Law at Stonehill College, as well as the President’s Award at Stonehill College. He was the recipient of the National Legislator of the Year 1993 from the National Association for Home Care, as well as the Jefferson Cup Award 2004 from the American Association of People with Disabilities, which honored him for his commitment to the disabled community. In 2010, Senator Kennedy was recognized by the Providers' Council as Legislator of the Year and was also presented The Better Life Award by the Massachusetts Senior Care Association for his outstanding leadership in promoting quality long term care services for the elderly and persons with disabilities in Massachusetts. Most recently, Tom was honored by the Boston Irish Reporter at their Boston Irish Honors event on October 20.

Always active and interested in Brockton area community affairs, Tom Kennedy has found the time and energy to serve on several boards and commissions, including The Board of Directors of the New England Sinai Hospital and Rehabilitation Center and the New England Board of Higher Education.  In addition, Tom is a member of the Knights of Columbus and the Brockton Area ARC.