A Falmouth prosecutor Tuesday announced he is planning to run for the soon to be open state representative seat currently held by Dylan Fernandes. 

Thomas Moakley, an assistant district attorney who handles criminal cases in Edgartown court, is the first person to publicly say they will be running for the Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket District state representative seat in the 2024 election. The state representative district includes all of the Vineyard, Gosnold, Nantucket and parts of Falmouth.

Mr. Fernandes last month said he will run for the state senate next year, leaving his seat without an incumbent.

In a statement Tuesday, Mr. Moakley, a 28-year-old Democrat, said as a commuter on the Steamship Authority, he understands the issues facing the district. 

“I am running to join a new generation of leaders who emphasize collaboration and positive relationships on Beacon Hill, prioritizing issues that disproportionately impact young people: climate change, reproductive freedom, housing, and the opioid epidemic,” he said. 

Mr. Moakley was born and raised in Falmouth, and interned with Tim Madden, the state representative who held the seat prior to Mr. Fernandes. He started working with the Cape and Islands District Attorney’s Office in 2022 and this year started solely handling Vineyard criminal cases. 

Mr. Moakley previously ran for the Plymouth and Barnstable state senate seat, losing in the 2020 five-way primary to fellow Falmouth Democrat Susan Moran.

“That was a wild race,” he said in an interview with the Gazette. “That really taught me what is required for a state legislator campaign.”

In other priorities, he said he wanted to help the Steamship Authority continue to serve the Island, potentially looking at ways to help with staff recruiting. 

“Transportation is not only an issue related to tourism, but it’s a basic existential issue for this district,” he said. 

Mr. Moakley also worked with district attorney Robert Galibois to lay the groundwork for an Island recovery court. He saw the new court, which hasn’t been officially greenlit, as a way to help people suffering from addiction.

“I am running for state representative because I believe in public service, and I am optimistic about the future,” he said. “Every challenge can be overcome when we come together, engage with those who know the issues best, and put the work in.”