What Is This Election About?

Incumbent Representative Christine Barber and I agree on many issues. We both want to move Massachusetts to renewable energy.  We both support the Student Opportunity Act, which provides more funding to schools that are under-resourced.  We both support immigrant rights and LGBTQ+ rights.  We both support the home rule petitions Somerville has sent to the State House, especially tenant protections.

However, there is an issue she and I fundamentally disagree on, and it’s the central issue of this election.  

The Massachusetts State House has the worst concentration of power and the worst transparency of any state house in the country.1  On most bills, there is no way for us to know how our state reps are voting — their votes are secret.  Decisions about which bills will move forward are made in backroom deals, where a very small number of people decide what legislation will die in committee without a trace.  The concentration of power in the hands of the Speaker is the reason why Massachusetts is unable to pass popular legislation like committing to 100% renewables, the Safe Communities Act, and election-day registration. 

On this issue, Rep. Barber’s voting record is clear.  If we look at all the public votes2 on the issue of transparency or the power the Speaker holds, Rep. Barber has voted the wrong way every single time. See this comparison table:

Anna Callahan

I have signed the Voters Deserve To Know Pledge

I support term limits for the Speaker

I support having chairs and co-chairs be selected by secret ballot of the full House instead of the Speaker

I support rule changes that make all votes, including committee votes, and testimony public

I am in favor of allowing legislators a minimum amount of time to read amendments and bills before a vote

I will use my platform as an elected official to call attention to the corruption in the State House

I support requiring that the Legislature be subject to public records law

Christine Barber

Will not sign the Voters Deserve To Know Pledge

Voted to end term limits for the Speaker

Voted to increase the Speaker’s pay and the pay of his chosen committee chairs and co-chairs

Voted against making committee votes public

Voted against posting public committee votes on the website

Voted against allowing legislators 30 minutes to read an amendment before a vote

Voted against allowing legislators 24 hours to read a bill in committee before a vote

Voted against allowing legislators 72 hours to read a bill before a vote on the floor of the house

This election is about good government. This election is about whether our state reps votes are secret. This election is about whether we as constituents have time to organize around legislation before state reps vote on it. This election is fundamentally about the concentration of power in the hands of the Speaker of the House that prevents us from passing the common-sense progressive policies the people of Massachusetts want, need, and deserve.

  1. Rep Jonathan Hecht talks about this in his interview on Incorruptible Massachusetts.
  2. Included here is every bill for which there was a recorded vote (because most of the time there is no public record) available on the Progressive Massachusetts Legislative Scorecard.