By: Daniel Wachman — Senior Political Correspondent
A Sharon High School graduate recently started his first term representing Sharon in the Massachusetts State House.
State Representative Ted Philips, SHS ‘01, was elected earlier this fall to represent 8th Norfolk District – which includes all of Sharon and parts of Stoughton, Walpole, and Mansfield – in the Massachusetts legislature. Philips won a closely contested two-way primary on September 1st and ran unopposed in the November 3rd general election. On January 6th, 2021, he was sworn in to succeed incumbent Representative Lou Kafka, SHS ‘64, who is retiring after thirty years in office.
“I’ve been working towards this goal for a very long time, and can’t wait to get started,” Representative Philips said. “I feel like I was able to accomplish a lot as a legislative staffer, but am going to be able to do so much more as a state representative.”
Philips is a lifelong resident of Sharon and an active member of the community. A Sharon High graduate himself, Philips is the son of Mr. David Philips, a former social studies teacher at Sharon Middle School. He is a member of the Sharon Finance Committee, Lions Club, and Master Plan Steering Committee, and was a member of the 250th Anniversary Planning Committee. He has worked in Kafka’s office for fourteen years, rising to the position of Staff Director nine years ago, and is now eager to begin his time as an elected official at the State House.
Philips adds that he is “of course” a bit nervous, understanding his responsibility to his constituents.
“You want to repay all the confidence people showed in you with their vote by doing a good job,” he said, noting that his top priority once in office will be ensuring his district safely makes it safely through the COVID-19 pandemic, especially this difficult winter.
“We need to make sure that we remain diligent, stay safe, and take care of people who need our help the most,” the representative emphasized.
Mr. Chuck Fazzio, SHS social studies coordinator, says he is “not at all” surprised that Philips has been elected, citing Philips’s ethics and passion for politics during his time at SHS, combined with his professional experience in Kafka’s office. Fazzio says he remembers Philips for his vested interest in history and government during his time in Fazzio’s “Since JFK” elective.
“I am happy he was elected and I know he will do good work for the district,” said Fazzio. “He is an honest, hardworking statesman who has a bright future ahead of him.”
Fazzio adds that he knows Philips to be an “honorable individual” who cares about those in need, and he expects Philips will remain focused on working families and people in need once he is sworn in.
Hanna Switlekowski, a member of the Sharon Select Board and graduate of the SHS Class of 2009, is also not surprised that Philips has been elected, saying he “embodies everything our town is about.”
Switlekowski, who has known Philips since her time at SHS and worked with him in Kafka’s office for several years, believes Philips will be a responsive, empathetic, and reliable state representative who will be a strong partner for the Sharon Select Board.
“He truly cares about his constituency and all the people who live and work here,” she added. “I look forward to working in partnership with Ted on many priorities for our town, from local aid to transportation bond bill amendments, economic development grants, and so much more.”
Switlekowski, who was herself elected last November, credits Sharon High Schools with her and Philips’s success in their respective careers in public service.
“I certainly believe Sharon High School helped prepare Ted and myself for the eventual path to run for elected office,” she said, emphasizing how SHS helped them “through those relationships built, whether with teachers [or] in student government, and [by] being part of the Sharon community.”
Fazzio also believes Philips’s time at Sharon High School gave him a launchpad to pursue his passion and run for elected office.
“One of the things we have always tried to do here at SHS is to give students a well-rounded education, [and to help them] follow [their] dreams and make this world a better place,” Fazzio concluded. “Ted’s service is giving back to society and allowing him to pursue his dreams.”
Philips says Sharon High is a “major part” of who he is, and that SHS “absolutely” put him on the path to where he is today.
“I learned public speaking from my time in the Drama Club,” he said. “My political career started in the 300s hallway, when I was the only one who stepped forward to run for Student Council from my homeroom.”
Philips enthusiastically encourages every SHS student to get involved in public service and in their community.
“It’s never too early,” he said. “While you may not yet have a vote, you still have a voice. Use it to make your school, your town, and your state a better place to live!”
EDITOR’S NOTE: The author of this article was a member of Philips’s campaign earlier this year. This article is entirely unaffiliated with the campaign and the representative, and was written only in the author’s capacity as a correspondent for The Talon.