How a kid from a small town became Massachusetts’ State Representative of the 14th District

Adam Scanlon on climbing the ladder of local politics

(Adam Scanlon /

Ethan Brayall-Brown, Writer

Adam Scanlon, originally from Pawtucket, Rhode Island, moved to North Attleboro, Massachusetts in the 5th Grade. 

Growing up, he wanted to get involved and have a voice. He joined Student Coalition Against Racism) and was Class President on the Student Council. In SCAR, Scanlon was part of the “I won’t stand for it” initiative. Students made cut-outs of feet that read “I won’t stand for (bullying, etc.)” and these cut outs would be placed around the school.

Scanlon also got involved in the theatre department. Theatre is where Scanlon felt part of a team because everyone had a voice in the theatre and had to work together to put on a good show. He directed a one act show called “Law and Order: Fairytale Unit”, which won the award of Audience’s Favorite Play.

One play called “You Can’t Take It With You” shaped how Scanlon views the world.

“The play had a real message, that I still remember… it is to always value things in the present,” Scanlon said. “The most important thing you could do is value what you have now instead of what you don’t have. I try to live by the message of that play.”

When he was only 17 and a junior in high school, Scanlon tried to stop the budget cuts of the town’s public schools. He went to the town finance committee to speak up about the budget cuts when his peers and people around him felt unheard.

“Many people at the time said that they didn’t feel they had a voice anymore and no one was generally listening to them… ” Scanlon said. “I spoke to [the town finance committee] about the importance of funding our public schools and how much of an impact they have on all of our students and the community at large. They ended up agreeing with me.”

As a school committee member, Scanlon pushed for one-to-one devices. Every student in the district would be getting a Chromebook. To do this though, they had to put new technological infrastructure around the schools to accommodate the Chromebooks.

In October 2016, New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) announced that North Attleboro High School was at risk of losing accreditation. Scanlon prioritized everything NEASC asked for, including a new turf field, more storage space for the music department, and more lockers.

Scanlon also worked on lowering user fees and updating the high school’s curriculum.

Negotiating with different groups and unions was an eye-opening experience for Scanlon. “It can be challenging but it can also be humbling and very thought-provoking. It kinda forces you to keep an open mind (when talking to different groups) and I have always tried to do that in my work.”

Scanlon continued to make connections and build coalitions after lowering user fees and updating the curriculum. When the representative town meeting came around the following year, he ran for a seat and was elected. A total of 19 people ran for nine seats.

“The reason that I ran was for our community, not just our schools,” Scanlon said.

He pushed for the Green Community Program where grants are given to energy-efficient projects. Scanlon became the chair of the bylaw subcommittee, trying to update the past bylaws to modern times. An economic development subcommittee was made by Scanlon, which tried to push for economic growth and discuss the challenges and opportunities facing small businesses.

Now Scanlon is the Representative for the 14th District of Massachusetts. According to Scanlon, the biggest issue that bothered him was that the district did not receive as much aid as other districts. This was of a formula that determines aid and that there were not enough earmarks.

Scanlon also saw issues surrounding equity in the area.“There are a lot of people that are struggling right now. Whether it be food insecurity, pay taxes or pay their rent. We need equity in income, housing, education and healthcare.”

He believes that communities need more tax rebates for seniors and small businesses. “Currently the rules and qualifications for being able to take a (tax) exemption or abatement for a small business or a senior citizen are extremely narrow. Communities should structure tax-benefit systems in a way that is most conducive to them,” Scanlon said.

Over the course of his career, he has wanted everyone to speak up and have their voices heard. Scanlon was just a junior in high school when he pushed back against the defunding of NAHS. Now he is prioritizing his job and the people he is representing.

“I ran to be a representative for all people, to make sure everyone has a voice whether or not you have been involved (in politics).”

To learn more About Adam Scanlon and his policies click hereYou can contact Adam Scanlon at [email protected]


Email Ethan at [email protected]

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