New State Representative Brian Mannal, of the Second Barnstable District, is no stranger to the world of politics.
“As a child, I was interested in politics at a young age, and I daydreamed about running for office someday,” Mannal said, who was sworn in as state representative on Tuesday. “But the timing was never right before 2012.”
Mannal's interest led him to accumulate a wealth of experience over the years, working on both sides of the aisle, including a stint on the 2000 presidential campaign of George W. Bush. Yet it wasn't until last year that he took the plunge, and ran for elected office himself.
“I decided to run for State Representative because I believed that there was a need for new representation in Boston,” he said, “and I think that I possess the requisite education, experience and character to represent our community effectively on Beacon Hill.”
That decision came in spite of what promised to be – and proved to be – a tough primary battle with the then incumbent State Representative Demetrius Atsalis, who was seeking his eighth term in office. Mannal went into the Democratic primary with his eyes open, knowing that the election effectively decided the race, since the winner would face no Republican challenger in the general election.
“Running for office can be a daunting process, and I was blessed to have the support of family and friends,” Mannal said. “I knew going into it that it would be tough at times, and I tried to stay positive and focus on the issues. Of course, politics is not a profession for the thin-skinned.”
Mannal says his work in politics over the years has lent him a fuller perspective on the issues, though his training in the analytical rigors of the law may prove to be even more important.
“I'd like to think that my past political experiences help me better understand both sides of current political issues, but I suspect that my training and experience as a trial attorney will be far more valuable to my role as a legislator,” said Mannal, who has practiced law in Barnstable for the past few years.
Mannal says his much-discussed 2004 switch from Republican to Democrat, and his political thinking in general, were influenced by much more than his work in the political arena.
“My political outlook has been shaped by my entire life experience,” he said, “from growing up in Barnstable and being raised by my parents, Dr. Richard Mannal and Karen Mannal, to my academic experiences in studying abroad in college, to my professional experiences in the fields of workforce development and economic development, as well as my experience as an attorney – every aspect of my life has played some role in shaping my worldview and perspective.”
A major part of that perspective is Mannal's emphasis on education.
“My parents have said that the greatest gift they were able to provide their children with was the gift of a quality education,” he said. “I couldn't agree more. I have served as a member of the Centerville Elementary School council for several years, and believe that the experience strengthened my belief that education is the cornerstone of our economy.”
As he begins his term, Mannal is quick to assure residents of the Second District, Republican and Democrat alike, that their interests have a voice in the State House.
“My door is open to all constituents of the district regardless of party affiliation,” he said. “I was elected to represent Barnstable and Yarmouth, and I will work hard to do that.”
– Regional Editor's note: State Rep. Brian Mannal is married to Barnstable-Hyannis Patch Local Editor Sara Mannal. This assignment was made and edited by Patch regional editor Margaret Carroll-Bergman.