• My endorsements: Markey, Barber, Fontes, Jehlen in Sept. 1 Democratic Primary

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    In this issue:

    • Why I’m supporting Ed Markey, Christine Barber, Helina Fontes and Pat Jehlen in the Democratic Primary
    • A short guide on how to vote in the primary election – by mail, vote early in person, or on September 1 in person

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Why I’m supporting Ed Markey, Christine Barber, Helina Fontes and Pat Jehlen in the Democratic Primary

    I’m writing to share with you who I am supporting in the Democratic Primary election.  Election Day for the Primary is Tuesday, September 1, but this year voters also have the option of voting by mail or voting early starting August 22.  See the end of this newsletter for detailed information.

    Here’s why I am endorsing these candidates.  I am interested in your thoughts and would discuss my choices with you over the phone.  Thank you for your consideration of my opinions.

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    U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez & Senator Ed Markey, co-sponsors of the Green New Deal

    Ed Markey for U.S. Senate

    For 37 years, Ed Markey did a superb job as a U.S. Representative in Congress, and he has been a tremendously effective leader in the Senate for the past seven years.  He has worked closely with Senator Elizabeth Warren to ensure Massachusetts has a strong voice on the issues that matter most to us, and she has endorsed him.

    Ed Markey has been a leader on so many critical issues for the future of our country and our planet. It's easy to forget about Markey, especially given the prominence and charisma of Elizabeth Warren.  Markey goes about his job with quiet, unassuming dedication. Even though the Senate has become a black hole where good policy goes to die since Mitch McConnell and the Republicans took it over in 2014, Markey continues to give America hope as the originator of bold legislative ideas such as:

    I first met Ed Markey in 1984, when I was working on the Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign for a non-profit organization in Brookline called the Institute for Defense and Disarmament Studies.  This was the time when President Ronald Reagan was talking about fighting and winning a “limited” nuclear war.  The Freeze Campaign put a million people in the streets of New York City on June 12, 1984 to protest against this insane idea, and Ed Markey was that movement’s champion in Congress.  He secured Senator Ted Kennedy’s support for the Freeze proposal and got it passed through Congress in opposition to the Reagan Administration’s policies.  In recent years, Ed has been a leader on nuclear non-proliferation issues in Congress.

    Markey has been a passionate advocate for environmental causes.  He is best known as the primary Senate sponsor of the Green New Deal, which if passed would transform energy use and the economy in the U.S. and create millions of new, good jobs to build up our nation’s renewable energy infrastructure.  He’s also a leader in energy policy and helped create the legislation that enabled President Obama to negotiate a 54.5 mpg fuel-economy standard for the 2025 model year.  Markey has stood up to oil companies and toxic waste polluters.  

    Markey has been the main architect of federal telecommunications policy, guiding the creation of millions of jobs — including many in Massachusetts. He is a national leader promoting an innovation economy. He has been a staunch advocate for consumers, taking on monopolies in the cable television, telephone, and electricity markets.  

    Ed Markey will continue to lead the fight to support health insurance for all, to protect women’s reproductive choices, and for gun control.  Long before it became popular and mainstream, he was an advocate for gay rights and equality under law for gays and lesbians, and for equal pay for women.  He is a strong supporter of LGBTQ rights.

    If you believe that America needs powerful solutions to systemic problems like climate change, racial injustice, and the dysfunction of our democracy, vote for this principled and accomplished leader who has devoted more than 40 years of his life to public service.

    The challenger for Markey’s seat is Joe Kennedy, the U.S. Rep from the 4th Congressional District.  Kennedy is presenting himself as a younger, more energetic, progressive voice for the future.  It is true that he is younger, but Joe Kennedy is not more energetic than Ed Markey and he is certainly not more progressive.  Most important, Ed Markey has, over and over, for decades, developed and championed some of the most important and most significant legislation in Congress.  He has a record of putting forward big ideas, big plans, and big legislation and getting a lot of it passed.  Joe Kennedy does not come close to these accomplishments.  Yes, Markey may be old, but he is not tired, as evidenced by his introduction and championing of the Green New Deal in recent years.  Joe Kennedy would be a decent Senator for Massachusetts, I am sure, but he will not be the visionary and leader that Ed Markey is.

    I did some phone banking for the Markey Campaign this week.  It was a wonderful experience talking to voters, whether they support Markey or not.  Many people I spoke with actually thanked me for calling them!  If you would like to help Markey get re-elected, they need volunteers to phone bank to reach voters and to get out the vote.  If you can help, please go to: edmarkey.us/metronorthgotv  

    If you would like a yard sign, you can order one here: tinyurl.com/MarkeyYardSigns

    (I have a few extra yard signs; if you want to stop by at my house and get one please email me and I will leave it for you with your name on it.)

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    Christine Barber for State Representative, 34th Middlesex District (Wards 4 & 7 in Somerville and parts of South Medford)

    If you live in the 34th Middlesex District I urge you to vote to re-elect Christine Barber (www.christinebarber.org).  She has done a terrific job of representing Somerville.  She has championed a bunch of home rule petitions that the City Council passed on a range of issues.  She has been a leader in the State House on health care reform, affordable housing, environmental issues, public health, criminal justice reform, police reform and racial justice.  She is a strong advocate for working families, public education, good jobs, responsible development, public transportation and the Green Line extension. 

    I have known Christine Barber for 10 years.  She is a smart, honest, hardworking, and experienced community leader and advocate on the local and state levels and brought those skills and experiences to the State House.  She is thoughtful, articulate, personable and really connects with people.  She knows how to work with other State Reps and the leadership of the State House to get things done.  She brings people together to come up with solutions.  Here is an article that shows the trust, respect and confidence that she inspires in community leaders: https://somerville.wickedlocal.com/news/20200720/column-somerville-residents-of-color-support-barber-for-re-election

    The challenger for this seat, Anna Callahan, is someone I like and respect.  But Christine Barber has been doing an excellent job under challenging circumstances and deserves to be re-elected.  Callahan’s main criticism of Barber’s record is that Barber has been unwilling to fight the State House leadership and Speaker Robert DeLeo on a bunch of internal governance issues related to transparency and the non-democratic and dictatorial way the House functions under the current leadership.  Unfortunately, Speaker DeLeo and his leadership team do run the State House in an unconscionable way.  But they have the support of a large majority of members in doing so. 

    So progressive State Reps like Christine Barber are faced with a terrible choice: They can fight the Speaker, but then he will use his power to put them in a position where they have very little influence or power to pass legislation to help the people they represent.  Or, they can make compromises with the powers-that-be, get along to some extent, and retain the ability to get some important legislation passed.  I believe either of these approaches in the State House is reasonable.  It is an unfortunate choice, but an unavoidable one at this time.  I would not criticize a State Rep who fights the powers that be and can’t get significant legislation passed.  Nor would I criticize a State Rep who makes some compromises so that they can get policies and legislation passed that will change things for the better and improve their constituents’ lives.  Hopefully, some day in the not-too-distant future, enough State Reps will be willing to fight the Speaker to force a change in the rules of the House so that there is transparency and democracy in that body.   I am confident that Christine Barber will be part of that movement when the time comes.

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     Erika Uyterhoeven         Catia Sharp

    No endorsement for State Representative 27th Middlesex District -- Catia Sharp vs. Erika Uyterhoeven for the seat being vacated by Denise Provost (most of Somerville)

    I have decided not to make an endorsement in the race to fill the seat that Denise Provost is vacating.  We voters have a difficult choice between two capable, experienced, progressive, but very different candidates.

    I want to thank and honor Denise Provost for her service as our State Rep and before that as an Alderman-at-Large.  In both positions she has been a principled, forceful, smart and a persistent advocate for progressive legislation.  Hers will be big shoes to fill.

    The candidates, Catia Sharp (https://sharpforsomerville.com) and Erika Uyterhoeven (https://www.electerika.com), each bring significant abilities and experience to the table.  Both are progressive and support necessary legislation on the full range of key issues like affordable housing, health care, public health, policing and the criminal justice system, and climate change. Either one would do a good job of representing our district in the State House.  We are fortunate to have this difficult choice!

    However, I believe they will have very different approaches to the job.  As I wrote above, I believe there are two very different approaches that a progressive State Rep can take to the job at this time.  I will let you decide which one you think is best for our district, the City of Somerville and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  Let me spell out what I see as the primary significant difference between these two impressive candidates.

    House Speaker Robert DeLeo and his leadership team run (dominate might be a better word) the State House in a non-democratic and dictatorial manner.  But they have the support of a large majority of members in doing so.  Votes are often not recorded or unavailable to the public, legislation dies in Committee without any report as to why, and there is little transparency.  It is not clear to me that this will change in the next few years…but who knows; many unexpected things do happen in politics. 

    As I discussed above in reference to Christine Barber, currently, and for the foreseeable future, a progressive State Representative is faced with a terrible choice: They can fight the Speaker, but then he will use his power to put them in a position where they have little influence or power to pass legislation to help the people they represent.  Or, they can make compromises with the powers-that-be, get along to some extent, and retain the ability to get some important legislation passed.  This is a horrible choice to have to make, especially in a state like ours which is supposed to be progressive.

    I believe that it is reasonable and honorable for a progressive State Rep to take either of these approaches in the State House.  It is a sad, frustrating, enraging and unfortunate choice, but an unavoidable one.  I would not criticize a State Rep who fights the powers that be and can’t get significant legislation passed.  Nor would I criticize a State Rep who makes some compromises so that they can get some progressive policies and legislation passed that will change things for the better and improve their constituents’ lives.  (Compromise is essential to getting things done in politics.)  Hopefully, some day in the not-too-distant future, enough State Reps will be willing to fight the Speaker’s power to force a change in the rules of the House so that there is transparency and democracy in that body.   

    I have met face-to-face with both Catia Sharp and Erika Uyterhoeven, read their materials, researched their backgrounds, read many articles about them, attended several debates, and spoken with many people who are more knowledgeable than I am about the workings of the State House.  I believe that, if elected, Sharp would be an effective policy advocate and legislator and would work well with colleagues to get things done.  On the other hand, Uyterhoeven will fight the Speaker and his leadership team from the get-go (she has already been doing this from the outside as an advocate), and will stand on principle and help lead the charge for more transparency and democracy in the State House, which could lead to more progressive legislation.  (There will need to be changes in the State House leadership and rules if the progressive legislation that Somerville needs to deal with our serious problems is to pass.)  Which is the best approach?  I do not know so I am not making an endorsement.  But I believe that either of these candidates will do a good job of representing us.

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    Helina Fontes for Governor’s Council, District 6 (includes Somerville, Medford, Cambridge, parts of Boston and more than a dozen surrounding cities and towns)

    I am supporting Helina Fontes (www.helinafontes.com) for Governor’s Council because she would bring a community-based and much-needed perspective to the Governor’s Council.  Her experience as a leader working in social service and mental health organizations will bring awareness and knowledge about the people who are often affected by judges’ decisions and the criminal justice system.

    In case you -- like most voters -- don’t know what the Governor’s Council does: The Massachusetts Governor’s Council meets weekly to record advice and consent on warrants for the state treasury, pardons and commutations, and recording advice and consent to gubernatorial appointments such as judges, clerk-magistrates, public administrators, members of the Parole Board, Appellate Tax Board, Industrial Accident Board and Industrial Accident Reviewing Board, Notaries and Justices of the Peace.  These are important Boards and positions, and their decisions and actions affect thousands of peoples’ lives.

    Helina Fontes has years of experience working in nonprofits, and human services, working directly with individuals impacted by mental health, addiction, incarceration and other traumatic life events. She is currently the Program Director of a Mental Health non-profit located in the Northeast region, with offices located in Lynn, Lawrence, Lowell and Malden. Under her leadership, her program promotes and supports recovery, which enables the persons served to remain and reintegrate into their communities

    Her personal and professional experiences working with the Massachusetts judicial system will inform her work on the Governors Council, which is responsible for vetting and approving judicial nominations and appointments, commuting sentences, and appointing probation and parole board officers.

    She wrote on her website, “As a woman of color, I have seen and experienced first-hand the devastating impacts that our current justice system has on individuals, families and communities. As a mother, I have endured the pain of my own son’s incarceration. As a program director, I have witnessed individuals in mental health distress sent to jails and prisons who would have been more appropriately served by community-based treatment programs.”

    I have never met Helina Fontes and I do not know a great deal about her.  But the incumbent in this position, Terrence Kennedy, who I have met at the Memorial Day Parade, does not communicate about the issues before the Governor’s Council or about his votes.  As far as I can tell, he does not even have a website, and his Facebook page has little substantive information on it.  The only time we hear from him is when he is up for re-election.  After 10 years of this non-representation, it is time for a change.

     

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    Pat Jehlen for State Senate 2nd Middlesex District (Somerville, Medford, Winchester and North Cambridge)

    Please vote to re-elect Pat Jehlen (https://www.patjehlen.org) to the State Senate.  Pat Jehlen has set the standard for what an elected official can accomplish and how an elected official should serve their constituents.  And she has been doing this for decades.  In my work as an elected official, Pat Jehlen has been an inspiration and a shining example to me of how it should be done.

    Her progressive credentials are unquestionable.  She was supporting progressive policies long before they were popular in Somerville and often paid the price as she was criticized mercilessly by more-conservative politicians and newspaper publishers in the City for years. She has never hesitated to take a principled stand, even when that stand was unpopular.  She has worked hard and communicated effectively to convince many people to re-examine their views on a wide range of issues.  She is a superb communicator and publishes a detailed newsletter that informs us about important issues and debates.

    In addition to being outspoken (in a quiet but effective way), Pat Jehlen has been able to attain leadership positions in the State Senate where she has had a major impact by crafting progressive legislation and ensuring enactment of pay equity, criminal justice reform, education reform, healthcare expansion and climate justice.

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    A short guide on how to vote in the primary election – by mail, vote early in person, or on September 1 in person

    Election Day for the Democratic Primary is Tuesday, September 1, but this year voters have two other options: voting by mail or voting early.  Voting is more complicated this year than in the past due to these three options.  Don’t hesitate to call or email the Somerville City Elections Dept. if you have questions: elections@somervillema.gov or call Constituent Services -- 311 from a landline or (617) 666-3311 from a cell phone.

    Many voters received an application for an absentee ballot in the mail but if you didn’t you can request an application from your City Elections Dept. or the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s office.  You can find the application for an absentee ballot here: https://www.somervillema.gov/sites/default/files/2020-vote-by-mail-application-primary.pdf or here: www.MailMyBallotMA.com

    In Somerville and Medford, there will be early voting at City Hall every day from Saturday August 22 through Friday August 28.  In Cambridge, early voting is on the same days, but there are several different locations.

    You can also vote at the polling place in your precinct on Tuesday, September 1, just as we have always done.  Please note that in Somerville, the locations of five polling places have been changed, so you may want to check the City Elections Dept website if you are going to vote on September 1: https://www.somervillema.gov/elections

    If you live in Medford, you can contact Janice Joyce, Executive Secretary, jjoyce@medford-ma.gov
    781-393-2491 or go to: http://www.medfordma.org/departments/voter-registration/

    If you live in Cambridge, contact your City Elections Dept, elections@cambridgema.gov or go to https://www.cambridgema.gov/Departments/electioncommission

    I hope this has been helpful!  If I can be of any help to you figuring out how to vote, please call or email me

    Mark Niedergang, Ward 5 City Councilor

    mark@markniedergang.com

    (617) 629-8033

    www.markniedergang.com

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