BOSTON (WWLP) – On Beacon Hill, Representative Shirley Arriaga took over the seat left vacant by former Representative Joe Wagner.

Representative Arriaga started her service to our country in the Air Force and served her community as an educator at Chicopee High School. She now serves the 8th Hampden and is ready to represent western Massachusetts.

When former Representative Joe Wagner’s seat opened, Arriaga thought to herself, “If I don’t do it, who will?” That’s when Arriaga became the first woman to represent the 8th Hampden.

Arriaga said one of her top priorities as a mother and former teacher is helping the youth. One bill Arriaga is pushing for is the Play Act. This would establish a trust fund that would fund youth athletics for K-8 public school children.

“Folks want to help their kids and give their kids opportunities but sometimes we have to weigh one thing over another and that really does, unfortunately, affect a lot of families. We want to make sure that the kids are not the ones being burdened by this, right? Financial responsibilities are heavy, they weigh heavy on everyone, it shouldn’t be on our children.”

She is also pushing an anti-bullying bill that would enforce the reporting of bullying incidents in schools, and create a pilot program that would send out an anti-bullying officer who would address and investigate instances of bullying.

“I was in the classroom and I have a very vivid picture of what’s going on, and the needs of our kids and I will be doing a disservice to them if I wasn’t advocating for their needs. So definitely has definitely shaped some of my legislation and how I will be addressing the first couple of years.”

Arriaga also said how affordability is something she plans to tackle, saying she is hearing from Chicopee residents about how expensive it is to live in the city.

If you want to speak with Representative Arriaga, she holds office hours on the second Monday of every month at the RiverMills Senior Center in Chicopee from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.