February 24, 2014/Press Releases

Congressman Richard E. Neal and Lynn Activist Agnes A. Ricko Named Massachusetts Democratic Party Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Honorees

For Immediate Release
February 24, 2014

Contact: Matt Fenlon
Phone: 617.939.0800

Congressman Richard E. Neal and Lynn Activist Agnes A. Ricko Named Massachusetts Democratic Party Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Honorees

Neal and Ricko to be Honored on May 27 at Fenway Park

BOSTON- The Massachusetts Democratic Party will honor Congressman Richard E. Neal and Agnes A. Ricko, longtime Lynn activist, Democratic State Committeewoman and Democratic City Committee Chair, with the 2014 Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Awards at the annual Roosevelt Awards Reception held on May 27 at Fenway Park at 6p.m.

“Congressman Neal and Agnes Ricko epitomize core Democratic values and have worked tirelessly to continue the New Deal agenda started by President and Mrs. Roosevelt,” said Massachusetts Democratic Party Chair Tom McGee. “For more than 40 years, anyone looking to get involved with public service or run for statewide or local office knows the first call in western Mass is to Congressman Neal and the first call on the North Shore is to Agnes Ricko.”

“I am honored to receive this prestigious recognition from the Democratic State Committee, “ said Neal. “It was Franklin Roosevelt’s leadership that successfully guided the United States through the Great Depression and World War II. And it was his New Deal program that saved our country from the brink of disaster and restored economic security for millions of Americans. During his 12 years in office, he was determined to create a society in which no one was left out or left behind. As Democrats, we still share those same fundamental goals and aspirations. I am delighted to share this award with my friend Agnes Ricko, and look forward to great celebration in Boston this May.”

“No two people in American history were more fervent in their commitment to our shared Democratic values than President and Mrs. Roosevelt, particularly the ongoing struggle for social and economic justice,” said Ricko. “Mrs. Roosevelt was a trailblazer for women’s rights and an icon of our Party in her own right. She paved the way for exceptional women like Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, and Elizabeth Warren to serve at the highest levels of our government. To be honored with an award bearing her name is the most humbling compliment I have ever received and I am thrilled to share this honor with the dean of our exemplary Congressional delegation, Congressman Richard Neal.”

Neal’s political career began at an early age, by knocking on doors for Congressman Eddie Boland (whom he would succeed in Congress). In 1972, Neal coordinated western Massachusetts for George McGovern’s Presidential campaign and soon after, at age 23, was elected Springfield Democratic City Committee Chair where he built a grassroots operation that helped Democratic candidates up and down the ticket. Neal was first elected to the Springfield City Council in 1977 and elected Mayor in 1983 before winning election to Congress in 1988. Dating back to his first race, Neal has a perfect 19-0 record in his electoral career.

This award is especially fitting for Neal, who along with his two sisters, was raised on Social Security Survivor Benefits – a program started by President Roosevelt – after his parents passed away.

In addition to serving in Congress, Neal is a lecturer at UMASS Amherst and on the Board of Trustees and Mt. Holyoke College.

Ricko, the daughter of Greek immigrants, first got involved with Democratic politics in 1970 as part of Michael Dukakis’ campaign for Lieutenant Governor by passing out flyers, knocking on doors and recruiting her neighbors to lend a hand. She helped organize his subsequent campaigns for Governor and President.

Throughout the North Shore, she has served as a grassroots organizer and trained volunteers for over 40 years, helping elect many Democratic state legislators, Governors, Congressman and U.S. Senators. She is a life-member of the Democratic State Committee and Lynn Democratic City Committee where she serves as Co-Chair.

Ricko’s activism includes numerous Presidential campaigns, including traveling with a team of local volunteers to Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Ohio for Ted Kennedy in 1980, New Hampshire for Dukakis in 1988 and Florida in 2000 to help Al Gore’s recount effort. In addition, she campaigned in New Hampshire for John Kerry in 2004, New Hampshire, Maine and Rhode Island for Hillary Clinton in 2008 and New Hampshire for President Obama in 2008. Ricko has been an elected delegate to three national conventions: 1988 in Atlanta for Dukakis, 2004 in Boston for Kerry and 2008 in Denver for Clinton.

In addition to her political work, Ricko, a graduate of Salem State Teachers College, was an elementary school teacher in Lynn, served as community liaison for the Lynn Mayor’s office and worked at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Transportation and Construction.

Neal and Ricko join exclusive company with this prestigious award. Previous Franklin Roosevelt Award recipients include: U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy, U.S. Senator John Kerry, U.S. Senator Ed Markey, Governor Michael Dukakis, Congressman Joe Kennedy II, Congressman Barney Frank, Ambassador Alan Solomont, former State Senator Steve Panagiotakos, former State Representative and Democratic Party Chair Phil Johnston, Bobby Haynes, Paul Egerman and Marc Solomon. Former Eleanor Roosevelt Award recipients include: Attorney General Martha Coakley, Senate President Therese Murray, former State Representative Lida Harkins, MJ Powell, Barbara Lee, Carol Fulp, Cheryl Cronin, Lynda Tocci, Nancy O’Connor Stolberg and Shanti Fry.

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