Holyoke City Councilor, age 29
Brenna Murphy McGee was waitressing and tending bar when she got the call into politics, accepting a job as chief of staff for former state Rep. Michael Kane six years ago.
“He was looking for a second staff member, another legislative aide,” said McGee, who had earned a degree in Psychology at UMass Amherst and hadn’t seen herself in politics before working with Kane and also supervising the research staff for the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government. However, “I liked the whole political world so much that I later became interested in running for City Council, and he encouraged me to do it.”
Her first campaign in 2010 was a successful one, as she finished third among 13 candidates. She currently chairs the Charter and Rules Committee and is vice chair of the Public Safety Committee, working with residents to address traffic and speeding issues. She also helped establish a crime-watch program.
“My home was broken into in May 2011, when I was home sleeping,” she said. “It really freaked me out. I helped the Ward 6 councilor — who is now my husband — to establish the Ward 6 Crime Watch. They don’t simply talk about crime; it’s a way for people to get together and discuss what’s going on in the ward and in the city.”
She and her husband, Todd McGee — who recently welcomed their first child, Myles — are the first married couple to serve concurrently on the Holyoke City Council, and they are now both 40 Under Forty winners as well; Todd was honored in 2011.
But McGee doesn’t get involved in civic life just for the safety of her own home; her passion for Holyoke extends to her volunteer efforts for the Holyoke Boys and Girls Club, the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Parade Committee, and the Innovation District Design and Development Task Force, which has worked to generate economic-development progress in the city’s ‘Innovation District’ around the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center.
“Holyoke is a really close-knit community,” said McGee, who was born and raised in the Paper City and is running for city clerk this fall. “When I was working for the representative, I was helping people in the city I love so much, and on the City Council, I’m still able to help people move the city forward.”
— Joseph Bednar