• Democratic Primary, Sept 4: Capuano, Patalano, Massie, Zakim, Tingle

    In this issue:

    Why I’ll be voting in the Democratic Primary on Tuesday September 4th (the day after Labor Day) for:

    • Mike Capuano for Congress (7th Congressional District),
    • Donna Patalano for Middlesex County District Attorney,
    • Bob Massie for Governor,
    • Josh Zakim for Secretary of State, and
    • Jimmy Tingle for Lieutenant Governor

    Mike Capuano for Congress (7th Congressional District)

    Mike_Capuano.jpg

    A great deal has been written about this race and there is a lot of passion and energy for change among supporters of Ayanna Pressley, who is challenging Mike Capuano for this seat.  I get that, and I understand the power and social and political message of a progressive young black woman running against an old white man in a majority-minority district.   

    I want to share my perspective on why I want to see Mike re-elected.  And I encourage you to read the best article I have seen that compares the two candidates, in the progressive on-line journal The Intercepthttps://theintercept.com/2018/08/18/mike-capuano-ayanna-pressley-massachusetts-primary  

    In full disclosure, I have known Mike Capuano and his family for over 30 years.  He is a constituent of mine in Ward 5 in Somerville, and I worked in his administration when he was Mayor of Somerville for three years in the Mayor’s Office of Human Services as a planner, grantwriter, and liaison to social service agencies, and as the Grant Manager in the Somerville Police Department.  So I am certainly NOT an objective observer in this race.

    However, I will tell you that while I thought Mike was a good Mayor, I did NOT support him when he first ran for Congress in 1998, in a field of 10 candidates.  I supported former State Senator George Bachrach, because I thought at the time that Bachrach was more progressive on national issues than Mike.  Capuano had been associated with the Bill Clinton/Al Gore wing of the Democratic Party, which was much more moderate than the progressives that I supported on national issues.

    I am supporting Mike Capuano now because he has done a terrific job as our representative in Congress.  I believe he is the best person for this job.  He has represented the progressive politics of our district well, and he has been doing it with great energy and passion now for 20 years.  

    Mike is tough enough to take on Trump and the Republicans but practical and experienced enough to work with them when possible.  And it may be possible if the Democrats retake the House.  Mike knows how to get things done.  He got $1 billion for the Green Line Extension -- with a Republican president and Republican governor in office.

    Mike has seniority in key committees in the House, which will enable him to have a big impact if the Democrats retake the House. One may not like or approve of the seniority system, but Mike Capuano would have a lot more power and influence than Ayanna Pressley would, to advance our progressive agenda in the next two years in Congress if the Democrats are in control of the House.

    Mike is as progressive as Ayanna Pressley on domestic issues.  She has said, “We will vote the same way but lead differently.”  Mike has been a passionate and tireless supporter of domestic progressive causes and issues.  I do think there are significant differences between the two of them on foreign policy issues, as you will see if you read The Intercept article linked above.

    Therefore, I want to talk to you about U.S. foreign and military policy.  This is something I care deeply about.  I worked in the arms control and disarmament field in the 1980s, mostly for small non-profits advocating for the nuclear weapons freeze, against U.S. military intervention in Central America, and for cuts to the military budget.  Our nation has the most powerful empire in the history of the world.  Our leaders (Democratic and Republican) rarely talk about or acknowledge this, but “the military industrial complex,” a phrase coined by Republican President and former general Dwight Eisenhower (he knew!), dominates our nation’s policies, politics, budget and priorities – under both Republican and Democratic presidents.

    Mike has been one of the most radical and progressive members of Congress on foreign and military policy.  He not only voted against the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, he opposed the Libyan war and sued President Barack Obama on Constitutional grounds because he did not get the support of Congress for U.S./NATO intervention there.  Mike has been courageous on Israel-Palestine issues, taking positions that actively support a two-state solution.  He has consistently voted to cut the military budget and use the funds for transportation, infrastructure, affordable housing, education and other domestic needs.

    With a President like Donald Trump and a Republican Party that has no values except to reward the rich and powerful and increase its own power (through extra-legal means if necessary), we need experienced, practical and tough politicians like Mike Capuano in Washington.

    P.S.  I have nothing against Ayanna Presley, I wish her the best and hope and expect that she will continue her great political career.

    Donna Patalano for Middlesex County District Attorney

    Donna_Patalano.jpg

    I am supporting Donna Patalano because she would bring fresh energy and a focus on racial and restorative justice to the DA’s office.  I don’t know her well, but I have heard her speak with knowledge and passion about what she would do if elected to improve the criminal justice system in Middlesex County. 

    In writing this, I am going to quote extensively from what a couple of my colleagues, Ward 1 Alderman Matt McLaughlin and Ward 3 Alderman Ben Ewen-Campen have written about her. They have been more involved in her campaign and know her better than I.

    Ben wrote, “Why is this race so important?  As the ACLU puts it, ‘District Attorneys are the most powerful people in the criminal justice system.  They decide who gets charged with a crime – and determine how most criminal cases are resolved.  This means these elected officials have tremendous impact on people’s lives and our communities…’”

    Matt wrote, “I am supporting Donna Patalano because she understands the story of criminal justice does not begin at an arrest.  Donna is a highly-qualified attorney with experience as a prosecutor and defender who wants to do more with the position of DA than locking people up.  She wants to address the systemic problems that lead to crime.  I spoke to Donna about the need for drug courts in Somerville that prioritize treatment over revolving door incarceration…She is going to bring a refreshing perspective to criminal justice and law enforcement.”

    Donna Patalano has leveled some withering criticisms on the practices in the current DA’s office.  For example, as Ben Ewen-Campen wrote, “Today the [incumbent DA’s] office does not collect or make publicly available data on prosecutions. There is no way to hold the incumbent accountable for any racial disparity in who is charged, indicted, diverted, dismissed, offered plea bargains, or brought to trial, because the data is not available.  Since the incumbent was appointed in 2013, pretrial incarceration in Middlesex County has doubled, despite an arrest rate that has declined by 35%.  This represents a drastic increase that is not happening in any other county…”  These are not the actions of a District Attorney that I can support.

    Donna shares my values and commitment to equity, transparency, and criminal justice reform and I hope you will join me in voting for her. You can read the Boston Globe’s endorsement of Patalano here.

    Bob Massie for Governor

    Bob_Massie.png

    I have known Bob Massie for several decades.  Bob’s entire life has been filled with courage, passion, and drive.  Born with hemophilia, Bob has triumphed over several serious medical challenges. His experience with our health care system has not only made him a strong advocate for a single-payer, Medicare-for-all system, but also enables him to connect with the many people who have had health issues.

    Bob has created or led several internationally-known organizations including Ceres, the Global Reporting Initiative, the Investor Network on Climate Risk and the New Economy Coalition.  He’s lived in Somerville for over 30 years, and he and his wife Anne Tate, an actively-involved expert in urban planning and design in local Somerville development debates, raised three children here.  If you want to learn a little more about Bob Massie, Bill Shelton wrote a wonderful article about him in the May 5, 2017 Somerville Times.  You can find it online here.

    The people of Massachusetts would be far better off if we had Bob’s intelligence, integrity, and breadth of experience as our Governor.  One of government’s most important roles is to help people in need.  Republicans – yes, even more moderate ones like Governor Charlie Baker – always cut public services, especially to the people who need them the most.  I want to live in a Commonwealth where we care for people who are in desperate need.  Bob Massie does too. 

    I could go on and on about his support for transportation, the environment, racial justice, workers and trade unions, women’s rights, immigrants, etc. – but let me just say that Bob shares my values and activist orientation.  You can find information about his positions on the issues on his website: www.bobmassie2018.com

    Massachusetts has a history of leading the nation in economic innovation, a sustainable environment and thriving democratic ideals. Our next Governor should be someone who has made those ideals his life’s work. As the environmentalist Bill McKibbon, founder of 350.org, wrote in his endorsement of Bob: “We need vision. We need action. And above all, we need leaders and politicians who are not just going to say the right words, but will do the hard work.  Massachusetts could lead the nation and the world.  Bob Massie will get it done.”

    P.S. I have nothing bad to say about Jay Gonzalez, I will support whichever Democrat wins in their run against Governor Baker.

    Josh Zakim for Secretary of State

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    Josh Zakim is a young, dynamic, energetic activist who has been serving on the Boston City Council and advancing progressive causes there since 2013.  If elected as Secretary of State, he will take over an office that has been staid and not very innovative, and transform it into one that empowers and aids diverse people in our Commonwealth.

    In full disclosure, I don’t know Josh well, but I did go to high school in New York City at the Fieldston School with his mother, Joyce (Wolff) Zakim.  The fact that a bridge was named after Josh’s father, who was a great man (see the Boston Globe article below for some background on Lenny Zakim), is NOT a reason to vote for him, in my opinion.

    In Massachusetts, the Secretary of State’s office is best-known for overseeing voting and voter registration, but it has other powers as well, including regulating corporations and the securities industry, overseeing release of public records, the state archives, and the state Historical Commission, which has the authority to give out $50 million in tax credits a year.  Josh has great ideas and big plans to modernize and improve the management and policies of the Secretary of State’s office; you can see them on his website.  This is an area where the incumbent, Bill Galvin, has been competent and honest.  There is something to be said for that, but Josh believes much more can be done with these powers, and I agree.

    If you want to read an article that provides some background on the candidates, the office and a good overview of this race, see

    https://www.boston.com/news/politics/2018/06/04/josh-zakim-bill-galvin-massachusetts-secretary-of-state

    I want to concentrate my endorsement discussion on voting and registration because this is the key reason to vote for Josh over the incumbent.  There are significant differences between the two candidates.  In his 20 years in office, Bill Galvin has been slow to extend voting and has opposed some measures to make it easier for people to vote.  Josh, on the other hand, supports an array of policy changes that would make it easier for people to vote, without in any way increasing the likelihood of voter fraud.  In fact, Josh has talked a lot about the need to protect our voting records from interference, something the incumbent has not taken any significant steps on.

    This is a statement from Josh’s website that reflects how I feel about voting, which we should see not as a privilege, but as a right:

    “Voting is one of our most fundamental civil rights as citizens. But in Massachusetts, the birthplace of American democracy, both registering to vote and voting itself have become too difficult for too many people. The numbers simply don’t lie - turnout in our state primaries over the past two decades has plummeted by 30% and Massachusetts currently has over 680,000 eligible but unregistered voters. Josh is running for Secretary of State to be a champion of voting rights and voting access. As we’ve done on so many other progressive issues, it’s time for Massachusetts to lead on voter participation and expanding access to the polls. With the Trump administration's constant assaults on democracy, it’s essential that we make sure everyone’s voice is heard in Massachusetts.”

    Some of the things that Josh will advocate for which Secretary Galvin has opposed are: same-day registration; automatic voter registration; weekend election days; and no-excuse absentee voting. 

    The Boston Globe article linked above says, “From the start of his campaign, Zakim has centered his campaign around voting rights, calling for policies to boost voter turnout, including same-day registration (which 17 other states, including three in New England, have), expanded early voting, and weekend elections.” 

    I have seen in local Somerville elections that state regulations can make it harder for people to vote. This is especially true of young people, who tend to move more often than older folks, and low-income people, who also tend to move more often than wealthier folks. 

    I hope you will join me in voting for Josh Zakim for Secretary of State.

    Jimmy Tingle for Lieutenant Governor 

    Jimmy_Tingle_2.jpg

    I’ll be honest: I haven’t been following this race closely, and I don’t think Lt. Governor is a very important position.  I have met both of the Democratic candidates.  I have known (though not well) and enjoyed Jimmy Tingle for many years.  He has been a presence in Somerville doing political comedy to help community organizations raise funds.  He has been an outspoken progressive, a hilariously funny and cutting social and political critical voice in our times.  Jimmy has a working-class background and manner, which may appeal to voters who do not connect easily to either party’s candidate for Governor. 

    Jimmy has been outspoken on issues of war and peace and U.S. military policy.  As a result, he has received a strong endorsement from Massachusetts Peace Action.  In addition, he is funny!  There is not enough humor in politics.  We will all enjoy the contest for Governor more with the levity and biting humor that Jimmy would surely inject into the campaign if he is the Democratic nominee for Lt. Governor.

    For all these reasons, I will be voting for him. 


    Sincerely,

    Mark Niedergang

    Ward 5 Alderman

    617-629-8033

    Mark@MarkNiedergang.com

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