^ iconic & crucial : from right to left, the entire middle strip of this photo is in the First Suffolk & Middlesex Senate District
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Just because I, like so many others, either don’t want to run for this office; or, in my case, cannot (arthritis is a bitch) does not mean that I’m gonna keep silent about this election. Ours is an iconic District. It has always, since the days of Mario Umana, been represented by a major political presence, a Senator with plenty of clout in Boston City politics as well as on Beacon Hill and beyond.
Our District’s bigness extends to its issues. Some are specific to the District: Logan Airport, the port of Boston generally, coastal flood zones. Thus I am looking for a candidate able from Day One to actually do the job, much of which is assessing and voting on actual legislation, or filing bills and advocating for them. I would also like a candidate who is able to articulate the issues in a way that persuades a majority of voters to support his or her take.
Our District contains Massport, Logan Airport, marinas and docks. It is the city’s pre-eminent restaurant District — North End, Downtown, and East Boston most notably — and has the greatest percentage of immigrants, from all over. Office and housing construction abounds. The District features Winthrop’s leafy, suburban streets of single family houses. : home of House Speaker Bob DeLeo. It even extends into Cambridge and thus has town – gown issues, including student housing dislocations. Mostly working class, the District also embraces, inexplicably, the three precincts of Beacon Hill, where five to eight million-dollar townhouses reign.
So much for the ground facts. Here are nine matters that I need to hear the actual candidates address realistically :
1. Massport : noise, traffic, expansion — and mitigation for the community including preference for Massport jobs. Massport spends plenty of dollars on betterment of East Boston. I give it credit for this. Expansion, however, should probably move outward,m away from Jeffries Point and Wood Island, neighborhoods that the Airport leans ponderously against. An outward new runway might cut down on the noise of constant jet takeoffs and landings. Homeland security background checks heavily burden local applicants for Massport’s excellent paying jobs, whose availability to our community once empowered our elected officials. That power has gone, and with it, some of the clout — and influence upon Massport policy — that our Senator and State Representatives once had. Some compromise must be worked out, so that local residents who haven;’t FBI-quality resumes can seek Massport employment.
2. Climate change and flood preparation. Ours is mostly a seacoast District, and a lot of that coast will be in flood very soon. We need the state and Feds to commit funds and personnel to build engineered flood remediation. We need this now.
3. Immigration. We’re the region’s premier arrival port fir newcomers, some perhaps undocumented. Our Senator must lead the fight for common sense legislation safeguarding Immigrants’ presence, dignity, and integration into the larger community.
4. Opioid addiction. Our Senator must support The Governor’s bill and take this crisis seriously. As Baker puts it, “every tool in the tool box must be available” to fight an epidemic killing more than 1000 Massachusetts addicts every year.
5. Fixing The T. Our Senator must support The Governor’s all-in approach to getting the T, its management and pay structures, its infrastructure and expansion done and its processes reformed, no matter how long it takes.
T fix should also include a Blue Line to Silver Line connection !
6. Charter school cap lift. I support The Governor’s bill, but that can’t be the end. We need to enable and support education innovation of all sorts, including corporate participation in forming curricula, home visits by teachers, and every other idea to assure that the achievement gap is closed.
7. The $ 15/hour minimum wage. A much more effective initiative than the two tier tax ballot initiative, for many reasons. I do not support the two tier tax. Nor do I think that its supposed earmarking revenues to transportation and education will happen. The legislature makes that decision, as it has with respect to previous “earmarkings.” Raising the minimum age is a much, much more effective means of increasing revenue, not to mention spurring the discretionary economy. The tax surcharge is lazy policy. Its sponsors tell me, “it polls well.” Maybe it does; maybe the $ 15/hour wage requires more effort and persuasion ? Then do the more work. Which do YOU think aids our economy more : surcharging a couple of thousand millionaires, or boosting the wages of maybe 500,000 low-wage workers ?
8. Restaurant business. Our District has the highest concentration of attractive food spots of any in the state. Each of these is a business. I support Governor Baker’s executive order to review and simplify business regulations.
9. Transgender civil rights. I fully expect pending legislation to be enacted well before our new Senator takes office. Still, I expect him or her to express full support for the bill during this campaign. Transgender people have it hard enough even with full civil rights protection. 18 states have enacted it. 13 cities in Massachusetts, too. What is the hold up ?
About political party : to me this is a false issue, an obstacle to good reform. Doubtless our new Senator will be chosen in the “Democratic” primary because there’s hardly any other. Yet the new Senator should be as ready to partner with Governor Baker — and his local team, Carlo Basile, Adrian Madaro, Joe Aiello, Mayor Arrigo of Revere, Tonia Scalcione, and Francisco Urena, to name the most prominent — as with the “Democratic” Senate President (not to mention House Speaker DeLeo !). There is one candidate who, on twitter, boasts of “knocking on #DemDoors” (hashtag prominent). Sorry, but that is the wrong approach to making yourself influential across the board. This Senate race is NOT an exercise in prepping volunteers for Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, thank you.
Surely other issues will arise during the campaign, but these are a start. I look forward to the debate once we know exactly who is actually running. So far it looks like we’ll have one Winthrop candidate, two — maybe three — from Revere, only one East Boston person, NO North End candidate, and one State Representative, Jay Livingstone of Beacon Hill. For almost everybody else, the timing of Senator Anthony Petrucelli’s resignation could not more inconvenient.
Whoever wins the April 12th Primary and a May election will immediately face perhaps two or more other candidates in the state’s regular September primary and November election. It would behoove long-game candidates to focus on that September-November, full term election RIGHT NOW.
What a year this is in the First Suffolk and Middlesex District ! Who knows ? The shadow knows…
—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere