Transparency and Good Government

The Massachusetts State House has the worst concentration of power and the worst transparency of any State House in the country. On most bills, there is no way for you or anyone to know how our state reps are voting.  Decisions about which bills will move forward are made in backroom deals, where a very small number of people decide what legislation is allowed to pass.  This is undemocratic, and it’s the reason Massachusetts lags behind other blue states in terms of passing progressive policies. The platform of the Massachusetts Democratic Party is extremely progressive, and we have a veto-proof majority in the House and Senate…but we can’t pass those policies because we can’t hold our representatives accountable.  It’s no wonder why popular bills such as the Safe Communities Act, single payer healthcare, and 100% renewable energy continue to get killed in committee, without any record of who voted against them.  

Fighting for transparency and good government is a central issue of my campaign.  I have signed the Voters Deserve To Know Pledge, committing to make all my committee votes publicly available, move to make public all votes and testimony of committees of which I am Chair, and stand for roll call to demand a recorded vote on any bill or amendment which I have co-sponsored.  If elected, I will use my platform to call attention to the corruption and lack of transparency in the State House.  In addition, I support:

  • Making all votes, committee votes, and testimony public
  • Requiring term limits for the Speaker of the House
  • Allowing legislators adequate time to read bills before voting
  • Choosing co-chairs by secret ballot of the full House instead of appointed by the Speaker
  • Eliminate the legislative branch’s exemption to public records law

Massachusetts Green New Deal

Climate scientists now realize that their predictions from 40 years ago were incorrect — global warming is happening much faster than they thought. We have ten years to avert the next level of dire consequences, and this will require “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society,” according to the IPCC. Massachusetts is behind many other states in passing laws that address the climate crisis; we must become a leader in this fight for our children’s future.

This GND must include labor and those most impacted by climate change to ensure that we have a just transition to renewable energy, and that we don’t leave workers or marginalized communities behind.

We need to:

  • Commit to sourcing electricity from 100% renewables by 2035 at the latest
  • Divest from fossil fuels
  • Institute a moratorium on all new fossil fuel infrastructure
  • Convert government transportation to electric
  • Require new developments to net-zero emissions
  • Require the retrofitting of all housing and commercial buildings to minimize wasted energy and to convert them to electric
  • Upgrade private transportation to electricity
  • Develop a modern smart grid as we phase out non-sustainable sources
  • Commit to 100% renewable energy by 2045

Criminal Justice Overhaul

We need vast criminal justice reform here in Massachusetts.  Police have too much money and power, our judicial system is racist in the application of punishment, and our prison system ruins people’s lives and wastes public money.  Common-sense policies like demilitarizing, redirecting mental health 911 calls, and moving toward restorative justice will naturally lead to a reduced role for police and jails.

Our current criminal justice system is the result of and perpetuates deep systemic racism in our society.  To solve these problems, we must have our Black and Brown communities at the decision-making table.  As an elected official, I will work with the Black community and other communities of color in the district to decide not only what policies we should have also to strategize how we will get them passed.  There’s a lot of work ahead of us.  Here’s where we can start:

  • Use mental health experts instead of police for mental health 911 calls
  • Use other trained workers instead of police to direct traffic when necessary
  • Eliminate racial profiling and over-policing in communities of color
  • Demilitarize the police and ban the use of tear gas
  • Given the above, police budgets will naturally be reduced and the funds can go towards community investments like mental health care, education, housing, and job training
  • Provide for a statewide Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) system that certifies police officers and enable de-certification for misconduct and abuse – H2146
  • Establish independent Citizen Review Boards equipped with enforcement capabilities to review allegations of police misconduct
  • Commission a study on “the systemic presence of institutional racism has created a culture of structural racial inequality” – H1440
  • Declare Racism as a Public Health Crisis worthy of “treatment, assessment, and financial investment” 
  • End cash bail
  • Eliminate mandatory minimums in sentencing
  • Ban the practice of charging inmates for necessities 
  • Ban sub-minimum wage work for inmates (they are paid less than a dollar an hour in MA)
  • Limit solitary confinement to a maximum of 15 days

Housing as a Human Right

In our district, we have a housing affordability crisis. This is a great place to live, but due to gentrification, increasingly we and our children cannot afford to. The result is displacement: as real estate speculators build luxury housing and rents and purchase prices continue to rise, our neighbors are forced to leave their communities in search of cheaper housing. The cost of rent and purchase prices continue to easily outpace inflation as wages stagnate. At the end of this cycle lies homelessness; Massachusetts has seen an 11% increase in people experiencing homelessness since 2010.

Gentrification is the process that lets high wage earners walk to work while forcing lower income people to drive an hour to work in the community they used to live in. We have to do more than create 20% “affordable” housing while creating 80% luxury condos. We need to treat housing as a human right, and provide housing for all.  Here’s how we can make this a reality in Somerville and Medford:

  • Fund and incentivize municipalities to build social housing which provides affordable housing to low and middle-income tenants and results in lower rent in the private market
  • Support community land trusts that insulate aspiring homeowners from market forces
  • Lift the statewide ban on rent control
  • Protect tenants through just cause eviction protections, anti-displacement zones, and  Tenant’s Opportunity to Purchase
  • Seal prior eviction records in order to combat vicious cycles of housing instability and homelessness
  • Implement a state-wide transfer fee on speculators who sell non-owner occupied housing within five years of purchase to slow house flipping and gentrification

Medicare for All

The US is the only major industrialized country that does not provide high-quality, universal health care, yet we have the highest healthcare costs per capita in the world. In Massachusetts today, people avoid going to the doctor because of the cost, and are even denied life saving treatment because their for-profit insurance has elected not to cover it.  I believe healthcare is a human right.  I will fight for a Massachusetts in which no one has to worry about losing health insurance if they are laid off (as too many have been during COVID); in which the phrase “medical debt” is obsolete; in which one’s income has nothing to do with the quality of care they receive.  Implementing a Medicare for All-type system in Massachusetts would not only provide health care as a human right, it would be good for our state’s financial health. In order to ensure we guarantee comprehensive and high quality healthcare coverage to all Bay Staters, we must:

  • Enact a single payer healthcare system free from co-pays and deductibles, for all residents of Massachusetts
  • Cover all medically necessary care including dental, vision, and hearing aids
  • Address the opioid crisis by legalizing safe consumption sites, which allows medical professionals to respond to overdoses and engage participants in medical and behavioral health services
  • Repeal restrictions on abortions for women under eighteen to ensure their safety and health
  • Ensure that the taxes that cover the cost of the new system are less than what people have been paying for copays, deductibles, and premiums

Fair and Just Society

I will fight for all those who are under-served by our government and treated unfairly by society: LGBTQ+, immigrants, homeless, incarcerated & formerly incarcerated, people of color, veterans, renters, students, elderly, disabled, children, parents of small children, and many more. We must fight against all forms of oppression, from racism & homophobia to pro-corporate legislation that transfers money to the rich.

Before COVID, the US had higher inequality than at any time since 1929, and wealth inequality has only skyrocketed since then. Massachusetts has the 6th worst income inequality in the country, ranking in the top 6 for both millionaires per capita and billionaires per capita. The myriad reasons for our shameful inequality are systemic in nature. I believe we must tackle inequality from all angles, including through a lens of intersectionality; women make 80 cents for every dollar a man makes, and Black women make just 62 cents, for example. In order to fully address inequality, we must also address racism, sexism, and other injustices against historically marginalized groups.

Our current inequality is also a direct result of policy. For too long, our government has primarily served the wealthiest among us, and the corporations that serve them. While tax reform does not tackle the systemic causes of inequality, it should absolutely be a part of the solution. To that end, I support:

  • The Fair Share Amendment, also known as the “Millionaire’s Tax” which would generate an additional $2 billion/year to go towards education and infrastructure
  • A tax on corporations that pay their CEO more than 100x their average worker
  • Raising the capital gains tax to 8.95% (with exemptions for low- and middle-income seniors)
  • Global Intangible Low Taxed Income: Taxing a portion of corporations’ US profits in offshore tax havens
  • Replacing the flat corporate minimum tax with a graduated minimum tax
  • Taxing wealthy private university endowments
  • Making Payment In Lieu Of Taxes (PILOT) graduated based on each nonprofit’s ability to pay
  • A Massachusetts Public Bank which would save cities and towns millions of dollars they currently pay to Wall St banks