PRIMARY DAY SEPT 9TH : OUR ENDORSEMENTS FOR STATE LEGISLATURE

Massachusetts has 40 State Senators and 160 Members in the House. Less than half have Primary day contests, and we have focused on only a few of these. Our criteria for endorsement include a demonstrable mastery of legislative issues as well as a concern for the entire community, not just one’s own personal agenda. Good people skills are also a plus.

11th Essex District (West Lynn and Nahant), Democratic Primary : three candidates vie. Of these, Lynn school committeeman Charlie Gallo has passion and sees the big picture of policy consequences, while Lynn City Councillor Brendan Crighton knows the basics and doesn’t lose his cool. Both understand the need to make the Lynn waterfront a district of prosperity again. Either man would be a strong voice for a city that badly needs all the State House influence it can get; we choose CHARLIE GALLO, because we think his passion and big picture will get Lynn heard more forcefully and quickly than Crighton’s politeness and attention to basics.

The other candidate, Katerina Panagiotakis Kodanis, opposes the casino law and wants the indexed gas tax repealed ; either move would seriously hurt Lynn’s huge infrastructure budget demands.

12th Essex : (four in-town wards of the City of Peabody) : two candidates compete to face Republican incumbent Leah Cole. To have any chance of defeating the too conservative but highly likeable Cole, a candidate will need serious people skills, a demonstrable ability to marshal a following in Peabody’s ethnic old leather districts while not appearing too gritty for the city’s more suburban fields. Nor can Cole’s challenger sound as far to the left as she to the right : Peabody has never been a bastion of progressivism and today votes quite Republican in statewide races. Democratic activists in this previously always Democratic District appear to want Beverly Griffin Dunne, who ran for this seat in an early 2013, three-candidate special election and lost; but we like JIM “DEMO” MOUTSOULAS’s street-level appeal (and Greek name, in a very Greek-name district) as a better match for Cole comes November.

2nd Suffolk : (Charlestown and 12 of Chelsea’s 16 precincts) : it’s a Democratic Primary re-match between Chelsea’s Roy avellaneda and Charlestown’s Dan Ryan, who won the seat in an April 2014 special election. Avellaneda continues to be an appealing candidate, a likeable man passionately progressive, on immigration issues in particular. but Dan Ryan shares Avellaneda’s positions too. we endorse DAN RYAN for two reasons : first, his articulate command of all the legislative issues at hand and second, because while Chelsea already has a very strong voice at the state House in City manager Jay Ash, Charlestown without Dan Ryan in the legislature would have no such advocate ; it’s but a small part of Boston, whose mayor, Marty Walsh, has multifold other concerns than Charlestown to deal with.

5th Suffolk (Uphams Corner, Meeting House Hill, Bowdoin-Geneva) : Evandro Carvalho won this seat in yet another April 2014 special election. He faces primary opposition as well as a Republican. We’ve met them all, and can say with certainty that none has anything like Carvalho’s command of the issues, realism, sensitivity to policy nuance, and attention to constituent detail. He has become a voice for Boston’s Cape Verdeans almost as potent as that of John Barros, now an official in the Mayor Walsh administration. We endorse EVANDRO CARVALHO for the primary and for November re-election.

7th Suffolk : (Fort Hill, lower Roxbury, Warren Street, Fenway, Kenmore square) : three candidates are running in the Democratic Primary for a House seat that, although seen as a major base for African-American voices, actually has a Caucasian majority of residents, many of them Fenway area students. Even the Roxbury part o the District is changing — rapidly — becoming much more culturally diverse, like the South End of 20-30 years ago. Incumbent Gloria Fox first took stage as a Whittier Street public housing protester; she’s been a power in the Roxbury part of the District for over 40 years and was, and remains, a powerful voice for public housing tenants. But she seems ill-suited to the radically different electorate of the 7th today. Instead, voters should choose either RUFUS FAULK or ERIC ESTEVES, both of whom have reached out to the 7th’s new voters, have won support by the best of the Roxbury activists mobilized in last year’s Mayor election, and understand that the students living in the Fenway need a powerful voice on their side who can deal with dormitory slumlords.

12th Suffolk : (Lower Mills, Mattapan Square, parts of Milton) : Dan Cullinane won the seat in last year’s House special election and has since shown himself to be almost an ideal representative for the district’s hugely diverse communities. He works the many corners of his minority-majority district almost 24-7 and has also mastered the state budget : knows how to get budget items vital to his largely low-income, transportation-needing district included in it even n today’s budget-slashing political climate. He’s also a strong friend to gay and transgender people. Meanwhile, Cullinane’s opponent, who knows better, seems to be mounting a rather crude race-based appeal. We find it easy to endorse DAN CULLINANE for re-election to a full term.

2nd Bristol District : (almost all of Attleboro) : two candidates appear on the Republican Primary ballot. Of them, Bert J. Buckley has Mayor Kevin Dumas’s endorsement and that of at large City Councillor Heather Porreca and seems to know and be liked by just about everybody. He’s a classic state representative, of the personal popularity kind that Massachusetts’s GOP has had far too few of these past 40 years. Meanwhile his opponent, a pastor, describes himself as a “Christian” and a “Conservative” : the first is not a political word at all and the second leads him to be an active proponent of repealing Massachusetts’s indexed gas tax – a repeal that would seriously set back the state’s much needed infrastructure repair and upgrades and would therefore hurt low-income people, whom the first Christian made the special object of his ministry. To challenge incumbent Paul R. Heroux, one of the state’s most imaginative House members, an opponent will need all the popularity he can get. Buckley has plenty. We proudly endorse BERT J. BUCKLEY.

2nd Franklin District (Athol, Erving, Gill, New Salem, Orange, Petersham, Phillipston, Royalston, Templeton, Warwick, Wendell and Belchertown’s precinct A) : one of our state’s poorest and most hard to access areas, the 2nd Franklin should be in political turmoil and is ; its Democratic incumbent, Denise Andrews, a solid progressive, seems less agile at people politics and, if the Republican Primary goes as we wish, will face one of the most masterful people politicians we have ever encountered in the Massachusetts GOP : business owner SUSANNAH WHIPPS LEE, whom we endorse, over her own narrowly-focused, social-issue “conservative” Primary opponent. We endorse Whipps Lee for her progressive social views and solid business record, and for her people skills, so necessary to winning a hearing in the House for towns that most Beacon Hill-ites barely know about — if at all.

33rd Middlesex District : ( Malden Wd. 2; Wd. 3, Pct. 1; Wds. 4, 5, 6, 8 ) : this is the District in which now US Senator Ed Markey, a ward 2 native, began his career. We haven’t spent much time on this race, which only of late came to our attention, but it’s set up to be an intense battle. There are two Democratic Primary candidates, both current city councillors : Neil Kinnon and Steve Ultrino. The winner faces yet another Malden City Councillor, John Matheson, who is running as an independent.

From the little that we have seen, Ultrino impresses us for his progressive views and his district-wide strength. Kinnon has long service to his credit and a strong presence in many parts of the district. But Ultrino seems to have more. For his views and his strong campaign, we endorse STEVE ULTRINO in the Primary.

State Senate : Worcester, Hampden, hampshire and Middlesex : the District includes 27 towns and stretches from the New hampshire border to that of Connecticut. It’s a district mostly of farms tended by immigrants, many of them undocumented, old mills, and a few new businesses. it also includes Sturbridge, one of Massachusetts’s iconic tourist destinations and, for that, an island of prosperity kin what must be one of the state’s lowest income Senate Districts. It was represented for a long time by a Democrat, Stephen Brewer, who was Senate Ways and Means chairman : a powerful voice for a most un-powerful district; but today it’s one of the most Republican-voting areas in all Massachusetts. It’s not surprising that there’s a GOP primary, a classic match up between a business-oriented, “establishment’ candidate, EMC Corp. executive Mike Valanzola, of Wales, and a self-described conservative, populist James Ehrhard, of Sturbridge.

Both candidates have wide support. But we are unable to warm to Ehrhard’s support by the Massachusetts Republican Assembly, an ultra-right wing, social conservative group (having nothing to do with the state GOP, by the way, despite the name) which supports Mark Fisher for Governor; nor done find Ehrhard’s anti-“illegal alien” rhetoric very realistic considering that without “illegal aliens,” the district’s farms would largely go unharvested. Valanzola, too, includes in his platform an opposition to giving undocumented people drivers’ licenses (how are they supposed to get to the district’s farms to pick if not by car ?) , and naturally he, like Ehrhard, in this very rural district, is a supporter of “gun rights.” Yet Valanzola seems much more flexible on these red-meat issues than Ehrhard, and he’s also a supporter of gay rights and women’s health choices, as Ehrhard is not. The winner faces Democrat Anne Gobi, a five-term state representative from Spencer. We endorse MIKE VALANZOLA.

Reader, there you have it. Now go ye and cast your vote. Be heard. You can b e sure that others will be heard even if you aren’t.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

Author: hereandsphere

Here and Sphere is an online journal of news, opinion, reviews, advice, & bits n' pieces of everything else - from HERE to SPHERE...... Co-founded by Michael Freedberg, a long-time Boston Phoenix journalist, and Heather Cornell, a South Coast Massachusetts columnist and editor.

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