Kaprielian Appointed Registrar of Motor Vehicles

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Leaves Legislative
Post May 30

By Daphne Abeel
Mirror-Spectator Staff

BOSTON — On May 21, MassachusettsGov. Deval Patrick announced that he has appointed state Rep. Rachel Kaprielian (D-Watertown) Registrar of Motor Vehicles (RMV).

Kaprielian leaves her State House office for her new position, Friday, May 30.

She succeeds Anne Collins, who has accepted a senior staff position in the Executive Office of Transportation.

In a statement, Patrick said, “Rachel Kaprielian is a skilled and committed public servant who will bring new energy to the RMV. She will build on the success and dedication of Anne Collins in delivering efficient and high-quality service.”

In an interview on May 23, Kaprielian said, “This opportunity just sort of evolved. It’s a new and big responsibility, and it’s a chance to develop another skill set.”

Kaprielian has represented Watertown, which has a large Armenian population, in the state Legislature for 13 years and prior to that served on Watertown’s Board of Selectmen.

Said Kaprielian, “I’ve been an elected official since 1992. I am only 39 years old. Typically, the Registrar of Motor Vehicles is a short time job. I’m not sure that there has been a registrar who has served for more than four years. So, there will certainly be other opportunities ahead.”

Her district also includes a small portion of Cambridge.

Kaprielian will oversee an agency of 1,000 employees with a $70 million budget. In addition to issuing licenses and registrations, the RMV is responsible for safety and homeland security.

“It’s a big management job,” said Kaprielian.

Kaprielian’s replacement will either be chosen by Watertown’s Democratic Town Committee and Cambridge’s Ward 9 Committee, or by a write-in or sticker campaign if the town’s political boards do not choose a candidate by Friday, May 30.

Explained Brian McNiff, spokesman for Secretary of State William Galvin, “This late in the session, the General Court does not schedule special elections. By the time we held a special election, the current legislative session, which ends July 30, would be over. Either the town board’s candidate or write-in candidates will run in the primary, which will be held September 16.”

A write-in candidate must have at least 150 votes. The write-in or sticker candidate with the most votes would go on the ballot said McNiff.

Kaprielian is serving her seventh term.

Known as a leader in consumer-friendly policy change, Kaprielian has advocated for a number of issues, including municipal and regional betterment, anti-tobacco policies and initiatives, early intervention and care for children, pension reform and job training.

In a press statement, Transportation Secretary Bernard Cohen said, “I am pleased to welcome Representative Kaprielian to her new position. I look forward to working closely with her to ensure the Registry is providing the highest level of customer service to millions of Commonwealth citizens. Representative Kaprielian’s wide-ranging legislative, legal and public policy experience is a perfect fit for the very significant responsibilities of the Registrar.”

Most recently, Kaprielian led efforts on reform to allow cities and towns to join the state’s Group Insurance Commission to help ease the burden of health insurance costs for municipalities. She also led the passage of legislation that requires cigarette companies to sell only “fire-safe” cigarettes in Massachusetts.

Kaprielian, a Watertown resident, graduated from the College of Holy Cross in 1990 and went on to earn a law degree from Suffolk University in 2000. She also received a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University in 2003.

In addition to her legislative duties, Kaprielian has been a major organizer of the annual commemorations of the Armenian Genocide, held each year in the House of Representatives at the Massachusetts State House.

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State Rep. Peter Koutoujian, Kaprielian’s colleague and legislative partner in advancing Armenian issues, said, “This is great for Rachel. She’s been in the House for 14 years, a long time. This is a good move for her professionally and personally.”

He added, “Personally, it’s difficult for me. I’m losing a sister, literally a member of my family. For Armenians, she’s been such a prominent political figure both on Beacon Hill and across the state. But the registry is high profile and many more Armenians will get to know her in this position.”

Koutoujian said that many legislative colleagues come up to him to speak of the loss of Kaprielian as a colleague and as an Armenian in the chamber.

“This was very touching,” he said. “Personally, I will miss her very much.”