Just when another reason comes along to become even more cynical about the workings of state government, along comes Sean Lesniak.

On the same day that former state Probation Commissioner John O'Brien and two others were convicted of rigging the department's hiring process in favor of those with political pull, Lesniak, 9, an incoming Lowell fourth-grader, was on hand to see Gov. Deval Patrick sign a bill he authored banning the sale of shark fins.

We couldn't have created two better examples of how our political system should and shouldn't work.

While O'Brien took the practice of insider legislators' patronage to a criminal level, Lesniak's quest, as Gov. Patrick's aptly described it, was "grass-roots, and you can't get closer to the grass-roots than the advocacy of a child."

This was no flight of fancy. Since learning of shark-finning on the Discovery Channel, Sean has waged a one-year campaign to put an end to this practice -- at least in this state.

Along the way, he gained a key ally in state Rep. Dave Nangle, a Lowell Democrat. A friend of the family, Nangle agreed to sponsor the bill on Sean's behalf after realizing how strongly he felt on the subject.

With Nangle's support, and encouragement from dad, Jeff, Sean took to convincing lawmakers with a tenacity that turned heads.

Especially at the Statehouse, where he appeared on seven occasions to make his case.

In the Senate, Jason Lewis, a Winchester Democrat who filed the bill on Sean's behalf, called him "the best friend sharks could ever have.


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For those unfamiliar with the goal of Sean's crusade, sharks are caught for their fins, which are severed to be used for public consumption, especially in shark-fin soup. Sharks then are usually thrown back into the ocean to die.

According to someone well-versed in the field, Sean's bill will definitely have some bite. Nigella Hillgarth, CEO of the New England Aquarium, said this law will help to cut the demand for shark fins, which is decimating the shark population.

And we doubt this is the last we'll be hearing of our shark savior. He may now turn his boundless energy to exposing the plight of sea turtles, which are hunted for their shells, used to make jewelry.

We congratulate lawmakers Nangle and Lewis, Sean's parents, and especially Sean himself for demonstrating how one person -- even a 9-year-old -- can effect positive change.-- By The Sun of Lowell editorial board, Digital First Media