Alum challenges House speaker

By Megan Jicha

Kenneth Procaccianti, a 2004 Magna Cum Laude Northeastern graduate, is running for State Representative of the third Suffolk District, motivated by his belief that someone from his generation has to step up and address the conflicting issues that face Boston.

Procaccianti, 23, said his personal experiences are what pushed him to run to represent his district, which includes the North End, Beacon Hill, the South End and Chinatown.

“Once I moved to the North End, I loved it but I identified problems that troubled me,” he said.

One of these problems is the loss of population due to emigrating to the suburbs. The latest U.S. Census reported that last year Boston and Suffolk County lost more population than any other metropolitan area.

“People are leaving Boston because of income tax, and better schools and public safety are needed,” Procaccianti said. “People move out of Boston to areas where the cost of living is less expensive. I want to make Boston a place not only good for visiting for a couple days or a good place to go to college, but a place to live as well.”

Laura Bernstein, a freshman graphic design major, said she believes college students and those recently out of college, like Procaccianti, may be able to better understand why so many leave the city due to the high cost of living.

“The city is an expensive place to live, and while in college or directly after college, young adults don’t have much money to put toward much of anything. I think a younger person might better understand this problem and may be able to better see the ways to fix it,” she said.

This race will be difficult for Procaccianti, as he is challenging an established politician, House Speaker Salvator DiMasi.

“Anyone who looks at this race will underestimate my chances. It is a David versus Goliath battle,” Procaccianti said. “I hope I can show younger people that our generation can step up and challenge even those that seem untouchable.”

Kathryn Tryon, a recent international affairs and political science graduate, said Procaccianti faces a tough obstacle by opposing such a veteran politician.

“There is obvious conflict trying to take on someone so established,” she said. “But if they are able and willing to really work on their field organization, he has a chance.”

Procaccianti said he believes the co-op experiences he had at Northeastern helped him gain crucial experience for his life and his current campaign. He did three political co-ops, one as an intern for a U.S. senator, one in Washington, D.C., and one at the Pioneer Institute, a Boston think-tank.

“I gained a lot of government and political experience through co-op. I credit Northeastern for preparing me to enter the world with crucial experience that I needed to succeed,” he said.

While at Northeastern, Procaccianti founded the student group Hammered, which has an emphasis on having sober fun in college. Always complaining about how college students seemed to feel the need to drink alcohol or do drugs to have a good time, Procaccianti decided to stop complaining and take action.

“Founding Hammered taught me that anyone can do anything if one is passionate about it,” Procaccianti said. “It’s rewarding to see the program is still doing so well even when I’m not there.”

Junior economics and environmental studies major Lisa Tuska, current secretary and treasurer of Hammered, said she believes the student group still has the same ideas and values as when Procaccianti founded it.

“We still try to focus on showing that you can have a good time with alternative activities and try to continue that tradition. We don’t preach about the rights and wrongs as far as drugs and alcohol, just try to show that it’s OK to not want to be a part of that either,” she said.

Although he faces a difficult race, Procaccianti said he has a lot of ideas he wants to see put into action and just wants to make a difference.

“Some college students feel like they cannot identify with politics anymore,” he said. “College students need to get involved and shape the debates and issues of politics and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

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