From intern’s desk to the House of Reps

By Bryan Coullahanpoliticalintern

When asked about his favorite moment, Fitchburg State University student Joseph Tringale responded that he couldn’t really say for sure. From working with then-State Senator Scott Brown to assisting in writing a law, he admittedly had quite an interesting summer. “Working at the State House as a high schooler, let alone the youngest intern accepted in Massachusetts history at 17, was a straining job,” Tringale said.

And to think, his start on the campaign trail began with something as innocuous as reading the newspaper.

“It all started when my father saw in the paper that a former Wakefield High grad was running for US Congress, and that he was having a rally for his campaign in Melrose that night,” Tringale said, referring to Brown’s campaign to win the seat vacated by longtime Senator Ted Kennedy’s death in 2009. “I worked on his campaign for the entirety after that day, to the point where I was invited to go to his election night rally […] and be with him when we found out the results. That night changed my life forever.”

Following the election, Tringale was lucky enough to cross paths with another Massachusetts politician, former State Senator and Representative Richard Tisei. “He came up to me and was impressed that a high-schooler did all that work for Senator Brown. He promptly asked me to intern in his legislative office. I didn’t wait more than 10 seconds before yelling out ‘YES!’ in response.” When asked what this job entailed, Tringale said he “mostly worked with constituents on saving their homes from foreclosure, dealing with unions being selfish and whiny, and dealing with the crazies that happened to find my office and needed someone to just listen.”

Later on, he was elected to represent Wakefield High School and Middlesex County at the House of Representatives in a discussion on the impact of a texting-while-driving ban, along with students from the other counties in Massachusetts. “All of the other chosen teens were shy and gawky, but I stood next to Speaker [Robert] DeLeo and told him straight on, that a ban with penalties higher than a speeding ticket in MA is detrimental to my generation and will bankrupt us more than his Democratic party has already done on the federal level,” Tringale said. “He chuckled and told me that if I knew so much, I should just write it myself. So I did. And it passed. Unanimously.” The Safe Driving Law remains in effect today, with revisions, and nearly 2,000 tickets have been assessed since it was written into law in fall of 2010.

When asked if he received credit on the law, Tringale shook his head. “DeLeo obviously took credit for it because he was Speaker and I was nobody,” he said. “But hey, I did something cool as an 18 year old.” After the internship was finished, Tringale decided to attend Fitchburg State as a film major, with possible plans of attending law school. Tringale has political aspirations of his own, later saying, “I knew that at some point, I want to be standing on that podium accepting the election.”