|Name||Francis W. Sargent|
Dover, Massachusetts , United States
|| July 29, 1915
|Died||October 21, 1998
May 02, 2016 03:44pm
|Info||SARGENT, Francis W. - Republican politician and Governor of Massachusetts. |
Born 7/29/1915 in Hamilton MA.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology 1939; studied architecture. While a student, he married his wife of 60 years, Jessie; had three children.
Worked as an architect in his father's firm until World War II, when he enlisted in the Army and eventually ended up fighting with the 10th Mountain Division. He fought as a paratrooper in Italy and earned a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.
After the war he moved with his family to Orleans on Cape Cod, where he and his wife, Jessie, ran the Goose Hummock sporting goods store.
Sargent became an environmental activist when he grew concerned about overfishing on the Cape and the use of illegal nets. In 1947, Gov. Robert F. Bradford asked him to become director of fisheries and wildlife. He held that post for 10 years, and subsequently held several other posts related to the environment.
Candidate for Massachusetts state senate, 1962, as a Republican.
State commissioner of public works, 1964-1966.
Lt. Governor (R-MA) 1967-1969. Elected in 1966 using the slogan "Put Sarge in Charge."
Governor (R-MA) 1969-1975. Became Governor when Gov. Volpe resigned to join Nixon's cabinet. Elected Governor in 1970, defeating Boston Mayor Kevin White. As a moderate New England Republican, Sargent opposed the Vietnam War and once told VP Spiro Agnew to stay out of Massachusetts. Set a record in 1971 by signing over 1,000 new laws in the calendar year.
Sargent created the cabinet form of government in Massachusetts and worked to streamline the state bureaucracy. He sought to appoint the most qualified people to public posts and was not afraid to appoint Democrats even though that was not always politically expedient. He was widely criticized for appointing John L. McGrath to the office of clerk of the Lawrence District Court; McGrath had organized the group "Democrats for Sargent" in the previous election and was not an attorney.
Sargent was an early supporter of environmental legislation. He worked to restrict transportation funding inside Route 128 with the exception of the Northeast Expressway as an environmental measure. He also worked to shift federal transportation funding into mass transit projects. On the first Earth Day (1970), Sargent gave the keynote address at MIT.
Among his other policies were building several public housing projects, passing the state's no-fault insurance law, tigntening the rules for qualifying for Medicaid, and introducing a new corporate tax. In the year following the passage of the no-fault insurance law, insurance premiums for bodily injury fell by 15%, followed by an additional drop of 27% in 1972 [NYT 4/9/1972].
Near the end of his term, Sargent supported a judicial order to desegregate the Boston public school system. Judge Arthur Garrity abolished community schools and directed the use of busing to accomplish the objective. Sargent had already vetoed attempts to repeal the Racial Imbalance Act, which attempted to withhold state funds from racially imbalanced school districts. Sargent was criticized for the move, since the wealthy residents of his neighborhood in Dover were not affected by the court decision.
Republican candidate for governor, 1974; defeated by Democrat Michael S. Dukakis. During the campaign, Dukakis charged that 14 of Sargent's appointed judges failed to meet standards of a judicial screening panel. The following day, Sargent held a political event in which he defended his judicial appointments and asked which 14 were unqualified; Dukakis never gave an acceptable response.
Gov. Sargent had a wonderful sense of humor and loved to tease, friends and colleagues said. But he also offered encouragement, sending notes to his friends to keep their chins up in rocky times, said William Bulger, a state senator during Sargent's administration and later president of the University of Massachusetts. "He cared deeply about the workaday things of the world."
Died 10/21/1998 at his home in Dover MA [NYT 10/23/1998] and was buried in Highland Cemetery there.