Cory Atkins was elected to the office of State Representative in the fall of 1999 in a special election. Since that time, she has worked tirelessly on voters’ priorities concerning education, the environment, economic growth, equal rights, and campaign finance. Voting the will of her constituents, Rep. Atkins possesses one of the most independent voting records in the House.
Before running for office, Cory was a political columnist for the Middlesex News (now MetroWest Daily News) and a travel writer for Outbound Traveler. She taught courses on government at Middlesex Community College and did extensive political work on the international scene. She led a group of women to a meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev at the 1985 Arms Summit in Geneva and served as a US delegate to several international meetings convened by Margarita Papandreou, the First Lady of Greece. She also participated in fact-finding trips to refugee camps in South East Asia.
Born in Dorchester and raised on the South Shore, Cory graduated from Marshfield High School and attended the Burdett Business School. After she married she attended the University of Massachusetts Boston, graduating magna cum laude with a degree in Political Science.
Cory voted against the election of Speaker Sal DiMasi twice despite the political consequences. Fortunately, when Speaker Robert DeLeo was elected, he then appointed Cory to be the Vice Chair of the House Rules Committee. Cory worked closely with the new Speaker on ethics and pension reform legislation. The Legislature passed more reform in the first five months of Speaker DeLeo’s administration than it had in the prior twenty-five years.
In 2016, Cory led the charge on renewable energy. She pressured the House leadership to stand up to utility companies who were trying to weaken solar legislation. With the bipartisan support of over 100 colleagues, Cory succeeded in getting a bill passed that promoted solar energy and saved 15,000 jobs in Massachusetts.
Since the Citizens United ruling, Cory has worked to overturn the Supreme Court ruling and create more transparency in campaign finance. She firmly believes that corporations are not people. Cory worked shoulder to shoulder with Common Cause to pass a Joint Resolution calling for the US Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. They also worked together to pass the “Massachusetts Disclosure Act” that requires organizations to list their top five contributors in TV or print advertisements.
Cory holds the principle of equality sacred. She was one of the original five members who fought tirelessly for same sex marriage, meeting with constituents and working with colleagues who adamantly opposed the measure. In 2004, after years of hard work, Massachusetts became the first state in the nation to pass marriage equality.
Her commitment to civil rights continues with the fight for transgender rights. In 2011 and again in 2016, she led the fight to provide equal access in public accommodations for all people regardless of gender identity or expression.
In addition, Cory Atkins served as Co-Chair of the Legislative Women’s Caucus where she created a more bi-partisan environment for female members. Her goal was to promote women members and their specific specialties to the media in hopes that the women would be called upon more for media assignments.
She passed “An Act Relative to Harassment Prevention Orders” in 2010 that allowed victims of stalking to file a restraining order without knowing their perpetrator. This bill was originally filed by Senator Resor who had since retired. It took nearly ten years to pass this critical legislation. Her commitment goes beyond her legislative duties. She has participated in raising funds for Domestic Violence Services Network (DVSN), a group that serves women from over 90 local communities.
Jobs on Main Street
Tourism is the third largest revenue generator in the commonwealth. It produces over nineteen billion dollars of economic activity and over 135,000 jobs. In her role as House Chair of the Committee on Tourism, Arts, and Cultural Development Cory often notes that these are jobs on “Main Street,” jobs that can never be outsourced. Cory Atkins was critical in bringing the Magna Carta to Massachusetts, which attracted over 100,000 tourists to museums in the state over the course of two months. As House Chair, Cory has organized over twenty-four hearings throughout the state. These listening tours offered opportunities for members of the tourism and arts community to testify about the positive impact of tourism and the arts on the vitality of their communities.
As former Chair of the Science and Technology Caucus, Cory believes the issues of economic development, transportation, and the environment need to be addressed together for communities to plan comprehensively for the future. She has worked hard to secure funding for Crosby’s Corner on Route 2. She is a strong promoter of both the Assabet and Bruce Freeman Rail Trails that will promote the ability for people to ride bikes or walk to work, while also providing the opportunity for recreational activities. Cory has worked with start-ups that are developing green products and strategies helpful to local businesses.
During good economic times and bad, Cory continues to fight hard for increased funding for Chapter 70 aid for education in hopes of stemming the rising property taxes. Her tenure has seen greater allocations to Acton, Carlisle, Chelmsford, and Concord for general foundational aid, special education, METCO, and regional school transportation.
Improving the Community
Rep. Atkins feels strongly about staying connected with the people she serves. She often meets with constituents in the district who want to have the opportunity to discuss an issue privately. In addition, Cory holds meetings with the local officials in each of the towns in the 14th Middlesex District to discuss issues such as securing more funds for local aid and for school building assistance, expediting transportation funding for road projects, and exploring ways to eliminate crippling state mandates. She also hosts a cable TV show that has addressed issues ranging from elder protective services and money management programs to environmental issues and the importance of vocational training schools in our innovative economy.
Cory’s favorite hands-on volunteer commitment, however, was helping to train service dogs for the disabled and for wounded veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. She helped raise money for “Canines for Combat Vets” to help pay for this enterprise.
Aside from her professional accomplishments, Cory is most proud of her family. She is the mother of two grown children, both born at Emerson Hospital, who were then educated in Concord’s public schools. Both are married and living in Concord. She is the extra proud grandmother of five; all of whom are following their parents’ footsteps in the Concord public school system.