By Jonathan Phelps
---- — IPSWICH — State Rep. Brad Hill is back on Beacon Hill full time after spending two months recovering from a bone marrow transplant as part of his cancer treatment.
Now he’s gearing up to seek re-election for his ninth two-year term.
The Ipswich Republican, the minority whip in the House, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2008 but did not make his battle with the disease public until last November, when he knew he’d have to take time off from the Statehouse to recover.
Multiple myeloma is cancer that affects plasma cells, a type of white blood cell that produces antibodies. It represents about 1 percent of all cancers in the United States, where some 22,000 people are diagnosed with it each year, according to Massachusetts General Hospital’s website.
“I am feeling great,” Hill said this week. “The results are coming back better than expected. I am back full time, and from this point on, there should be no further setbacks in regards to my health.”
He said that for the most part, his treatments are complete.
Earlier this month, Hill went to the Ipswich Board of Selectmen to talk about their interest in a home-rule petition for more liquor licenses, advising them the licenses must be issued to a site-specific location.
Hill said he was able to work from home during his recovery, but he missed his daily work at the Statehouse and meeting regularly with constituents. He did go into the office on occasion to take roll call votes.
Because his immune system was weakened, he had limited access to people during his recovery.
“If it wasn’t for family, friends and the constituents and the support I’ve received, I wouldn’t have got through this,” he said. “The kind words and prayers got me through.”
He said his priorities moving forward are the economy, jobs and increasing Chapter 70 funds for suburban school districts. School funds are being distributed unfairly, he said.
“We’ve seen some changes in the formula, but we still haven’t seen equal distribution of the funds across the state like I would like to see,” he said.
Hill was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1998. He represents the 4th Essex District, which — in addition to Ipswich — includes Topsfield, Hamilton, Wenham, Manchester and Rowley. He ran unopposed in 2010 and 2012 and last faced a challenger in 2008, when he beat Democrat Donald Bumiller of Boxford.
Born and raised in Hamilton, Hill, 46 , lives in Ipswich with his wife, Aimee, and their two teenage children, a son and daughter.
A former Ipswich selectman, he is enrolled in night courses at Salem State University, where he is pursuing a degree in political science and a minor in coaching and youth activities.
Looking back at his nearly 16 years in office, he mentioned a few bills he is most proud of, including Melissa’s Bill, which cracks down on habitual violent offenders by mandating they get the maximum penalty under the law and making them ineligible for parole after their third offense. It is named in memory of Melissa Gosule from Cape Cod, who was raped and killed by a repeat offender in 1999. Hill worked with her father, Les, to author the bill, he said. It became law in 2012.
Another success was enacting changes in the junior operator laws in the state, he said. He lobbied for stricter rules for beginning drivers for nearly three years, and they became an issue in his re-election campaign in 2004. Among other changes, drivers between 161/2 and 18 who are caught speeding a second time get a one-year license suspension, a $500 fine, plus $10 for each mile per hour in excess of 10 mph over the posted speed limit, a $50 surcharge, and a $500 fee to reinstate the license and reapply for a road test. Drivers education courses were also standardized statewide.
Most recently, he worked to pass a bill enabling 17-year-olds to be treated as juveniles, rather than adult-level criminals, in most cases. Gov. Deval Patrick signed the bill into law in September.
Hill said he’s ready for a ninth term.
“I love this job because I get to help people every day,” he said. “I get to interact with constituents every day. This job helps me assist seniors, veterans and all those I serve.”
Material from the State House News Service was used in this report.