A Progressive Vision for Massachusetts
I believe that effective local, regional, and state government can make a real and positive difference in people’s lives. As the State Representative for the 15th Middlesex District, I stand up for the values of Lexington, Woburn, and the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Massachusetts leads when we support justice and equality for all our neighbors—regardless of their gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identification, or immigration status. We must embrace our political, cultural, ethnic, and religious differences because our diversity makes us strong. To that end, we must stand up for our values and push back on the regressive efforts coming out of Washington. This includes fighting for our inalienable civil rights, reproductive freedom, LGBTQ rights, the reduction of gun violence, progressive taxation, fair labor standards, a living wage, and protection of the environment.
The political issues I care most about aren't easily distilled into simple topics as they are multidisciplinary, nuanced, cross-cutting concerns. These include equity, excellence in education, environmental sustainability, public health, transportation and smart growth land use.
Click on the topics below for more information.
As a former public school parent and a product of the Lexington public schools, I know what good public education can do for a child. But I also know that the great public education that my children and many other Massachusetts children have experienced is not available to all children in our Commonwealth. There are shocking disparities in educational opportunities across our state and I am committed to fighting against these inequities.
As a State Representative, I place a high priority on investment in our public schools to ensure that no child has less educational opportunity because of where they live, and every child across the Commonwealth has access to a great education and the life-changing empowerment that it brings.
Because the ability to support educational services through local property tax varies greatly across our cities and towns, it is critical for us to fix the formula for determining the local education funding that comes from the State. This funding, known as Chapter 70, is supposed to ensure a fair and balanced distribution of state education funding.
The State recently completed a study of Chapter 70. The report of the Foundation Budget Review Commission was eye-opening. They found that the current formula needed important adjustments to create fair reimbursements for Special Education, METCO, English-language learners at all levels, School Transportation, school-related costs such as teacher health insurance and retirement funds, and school bonding. I deeply believe in the importance of fairness, and have pushed strongly--and will continue to advocate--for adopting the recommendations of the Commission to increase funding and rebalance how it is allocated.
Equal access to educational opportunity also means free all-day kindergarten, especially for lower-income families. Most communities in Massachusetts now offer the important early education benefit of all-day kindergarten, but many charge tuition. We must restore the state’s kindergarten grant funding program, which was cut from the budget in FY2017 so that all of our children can experience the benefits of an all-day kindergarten program.
But all-day kindergarten alone will not be enough to close our state’s opportunity gap. Pre-K education has measurable lifelong benefits and is especially important for the families who can least afford it. I will fight for the creation of a universal Pre-K program in Massachusetts.
Teachers are the backbone of our education system. Attracting and retaining talented teachers is critical to the quality of our schools There is no other profession that can so change the life of a child and forever improve that child’s outcomes. I enthusiastically support our teachers unions and their right to collective bargaining. Our teachers need to be supported in their efforts to ensure they are well compensated and fairly treated.
Higher education is fundamental to the success of individuals and to the continuing economic strength of our Commonwealth. Need-based free and affordable options for college, vocational and technical education are a top priority.
With a personal understanding of the benefits of public education and a practical knowledge of how to implement positive change through policy amendments, I hold education access and quality as key issues of our day and top priorities for my campaign.
Meaningful investments in transit and transportation infrastructure must be a priority for Massachusetts. Increased traffic congestion, outdated public transit, and crumbling roads and bridges make getting around the region an increasing challenge and can ultimately damage our economy. Since the transportation sector is a major consumer of carbon (soon to eclipse the building sector), we need to find ways to encourage the greening of our transportation system. Consequently, I have also been supporting the Regional Ballot Initiatives to give cities and towns an additional revenue tool to levy funds locally in support of transportation. I also support efforts to create Value Capture systems that leverage the new growth in property tax value that is created when the Commonwealth or cities and Towns invest in transportation. This mechanism will provide another option for cities and towns to leverage that new growth and target it to transportation. Finally, I support and have taken votes to endorse efforts to raise the gas tax. At the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, for more than 5 years, as an agency we have been working on numerous position statements and recommendations for increasing transportation revenues.
I believe we will need to be proactive in regulating the new technologies that will become more prevalent, including ride-sharing, and autonomous vehicles to prevent the unintended consequences of an unregulated industry. Without careful measures that incentivize fleets and car-sharing and disincentivize single occupancy vehicles, we will get an increase in trips, reduction in transit use (already being seen today) an increase in congestion, and an increase in carbon consumption. The regulation of these industries should include a VMT fees or tax to discourage single occupancy vehicle trips and encourage ride-sharing. This fee or tax should be dedicated to transit and innovative transportation measures needed in the Commonwealth.
While in Hudson, I served on the Metrowest Regional Transit Authority, and helped to lay the groundwork to create a shuttle to serve that community. While Chair of the MAGIC Subregion of MAPC (the 13 towns in the area north west of Boston), I initiated the first Suburban Mobility Study to evaluate how collaboration can make local shuttle buses more efficient to increase ridership and access to
transit. I was an appointed member of GreenDOT, an initiative to green up the Mass. Department of Transportation. We advised on improving transit and bicycle and pedestrian mobility. I also served on the Healthy Transportation Compact Advisory Committee which had some overlap with GreenDOT in its mission.
While President of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council - MAPC - I was responsible for developing the concept for the Complete Streets Incentive Program. That key Complete Streets program is currently expanding bicycle and pedestrian options across the Commonwealth. I would also plan to continue actively supporting the Complete Streets program and ensuring its funding as well as prioritizing bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.
I am passionate about both Transit and bicycle and pedestrian action and I will continue to focus on funding capital improvements to public transportation. We need to close the "last mile" transit gap that separates our homes and
workplaces from convenient access to public transportation. Bicycling and walking options are a piece of this puzzle. We must focus on using data and technology to improve traffic flow, and we must make real investments in public transportation infrastructure.
Massachusetts must be a national leader in combating climate change and promoting environmental sustainability.
As Selectman, I've worked on local strategies to make Lexington greener and healthier. I’ve helped the communities I’ve worked for win “Leading by Example” awards in the environmental arena. I’ve also shepherded large scale solar projects through the process and made policy decisions guiding energy efficiency choices for a number of municipal buildings as both a staff person and an elected official. Whenever I am faced with a decision regarding energy efficiency, I always choose the most efficient option, even if that means paying more up front.
In the Legislature, I will stand firm on the provisions of the Global Warming Solutions Act and push for better planning to ensure we can meet and exceed our targets. I will strongly advocate for important initiatives including raising the cap on solar net metering, retrofitting State facilities and switching our public vehicle fleet to energy-efficient vehicles. I will look for ways to hold energy companies accountable for plugging their leaking gas pipes to reduce this major source of methane pollution. I will push State agencies to help communities set net-zero energy consumption goals. I will oppose efforts to expand gas pipelines, especially those coming from fracking, or being built through pristine lands. I will promote State efforts to work with local communities to prepare for and adapt to the effects of climate change. Climate must be considered in everything that we do because it is the most pressing struggle we face. Getting it wrong is not an option for our planet and we owe it to our children and grandchildren to lead on this issue.
We must invest in prevention programs, both in physical and mental health to keep our residents healthier and, over the long term, to help lower our costs. We must institute comprehensive policies that make it easier for people to be healthy. More State funding should be directed to programs that emphasize wellness, with education aimed at improving nutrition, measures to encourage physical activity, and strong preventive efforts to vaccinate and screen for diseases so they can be treated early. Preventative efforts must also be focused on reducing substance abuse. We must support programs and policies that ensure equal access to reproductive healthcare for all people. We must improve the very low wages of home care workers, and create a student loan repayment pilot program for licensed, certified social workers working in areas of high need. We need to be prepared, with legislation in place, to provide healthcare continuity for our most vulnerable residents in the event of federal cuts to our Medicaid funding. We must work towards the creation of a single payer health insurance system in Massachusetts that guarantees access, is publicly administered, and lowers the cost of health care. Such a system must be phased in carefully and deliberately to ensure service quality, and, importantly, to reduce disruption and displacement of workers currently employed in the private health insurance industry.
Job Creation & Economic OpportunitY
Massachusetts has a thriving economic engine, with leading Life Sciences, Finance, Information Technology, Higher Education, and Advanced Manufacturing sectors. But we also have a severe deficit of skilled labor, and the sixth highest rate of income inequality in the nation. It is imperative that we create pathways to success and employment opportunities for residents of all skills levels. Widely available vocational and technical education is key, as well as support of small business ownership and downtown economies. We must have the vision to anticipate the effects of automation, such as robotics and autonomous vehicles, on our workforce and be prepared with appropriate job training to enable displaced workers to succeed.
As a legislator, I will always support the right to collective bargaining. I see the role of a legislator as multifaceted – co-sponsoring and supporting pro-labor legislation, walking picket lines in support of workers, advocating for workers when facing problematic employers, and using the office as a bully pulpit to further the goals of working women and men.