BEVERLY (CBS) — Timing has becoming everything for Jerry Parisalla, who just won a hard-fought campaign to become Beverly’s new state representative.
Just weeks after he’ll be sworn in on January 5, he will head off to serve his country in Iraq as a JAG, or military lawyer.
WBZ-TV’s Beth Germano reports.
“We always knew as a family this could happen. It’s a strange time obviously,” said Parisella.
The order came November 30, only weeks after the election. He says he is no different than the hundreds of thousands of other national guardsman reservists who have been called up, except his job is a little more public.
“I’m proud to serve my country and I look forward to doing so honorably, then come back and serve Beverly,” he said.
He regrets that he’ll be missing votes on Beacon Hill after working all year to get elected. He still plans to staff his statehouse office to set up constituent services, and says other legislators have pledged to help him, even possibly filing legislation on his behalf.
It’ll already be difficult leaving his family for probably a year. Now missing half his first term on Beacon Hill has left voters with mixed emotions in his district.
“Would I recommend that he resign? I would say to him he should give it serious consideration,” said one Beverly resident.
Another said he was proud of Parisella’s service. “I think he’s doing a great thing for the country and I have no problem with it at all. He’ll be back.”
Parisella says he never hid his military service during the campaign. Even campaign literature appealed to veterans for support. He calls this mission historic since his unit may be among the last soldiers to serve in Iraq, since all troops are scheduled to be out of the country by December 31, 2011.
“I think I’ll be a better person able to serve constituents because I’ll have that experience,” he said.
Whatever voters think, he says he’ll defend it.
“It’s the soldier who defends that first amendment right to say what they feel and I respect that. I’ll have a good staff work hard to make sure they represent Beverly’s interests while I’m gone,” he said.
At least three other Massachusetts legislators have been called to active duty during their time in office.