Areas of Focus
Housing should be codified as a right in our Commonwealth, and we must be vigilant in pursuing policies that seek to address this phenomenon where the market has clearly failed. We must pursue the conversion of state-owned properties for affordable housing, the establishment of a regional land bank, and the creation of incentives that discourage short-term rentals at the expense of year-round rentals. We also must ensure that there are reasonable tenant protections in place to keep renters in their homes. The current approach which utilizes tools like the 40B program and various state funding mechanisms for local initiatives is not working given the enormity of the problem.
Medicare for All
In 2006, we led the nation by passing the Healthcare Reform Act which served as a model for the Affordable Care Act at the federal level. That was 16 years ago. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is time for MA to lead the way again by finally delivering a simple and efficient way of delivering healthcare to its people through Medicare for All. Every developed economy in the world has some form of the universal healthcare system to distribute services in a cost-effective manner, and they typically cover all of their citizens at nearly half the price exacted in the United States.
Standing up to hate and prejudice
While our region prides itself on inclusion, we still have opportunities to ensure all our residents feel welcomed and valued. In a district with less exposure to those from different backgrounds — we must call out hate, loudly and clearly, in all forms whenever it occurs. As a community, we must stand strong to protect the dignity of immigrants, the LGBTQIA+ community, and religious minorities from acts of intolerance. Presenting a united front that embraces the diversity of our community will show the world that hate has no place on Cape Cod.
The Outer Cape is a region that has struggled to attract primary care physicians and nurses due to the high cost of living and lack of housing. For those seeking care at Outer Cape Health Services, this means extremely long wait times for appointments and basic medical procedures. Public sector involvement is required to help address this issue which affects the public health of our community.
The cost of childcare is rising at an unsustainable rate and there is a lack of affordable options in our area for our young and working families. With the Common Start bill, H.605 having been introduced in the most recent legislative session, we must fight for its passage to ensure that there is a range of both affordable options in the region as we plan for the future.
Education is an investment and should be strengthened in our society. Our public schools should be fully funded across the Commonwealth and young people who are accepted to a state college or university should not be burdened with unsustainable student debt upon graduation. Further, our public places of learning should be thriving community centers that should benefit the public at large with options for continuing education and meaningful civic engagement.
While overall statewide numbers have slightly improved with regards to overdose deaths – our region continues to be among the worst affected in the Commonwealth. We need results, not rhetoric. Given that this is a tremendously complex issue, it is understandable that many well-intentioned initiatives have been fractured or incomplete. Much more can be done, and we must have an earnest conversation within our communities about how to address this crisis with public health and human dignity in mind.
Caring for our Seniors
High cost of living, high property tax bills from exploding home valuations, lack of affordable housing, geographical isolation, and lack of public transit create unique challenges for the seniors in our community – especially Veterans and those who are living on a fixed income. We must ensure that senior care — from transportation, to health care, to community engagement needs — are met.
Public broadband has been shown to offer better service at lower rates in many communities and can be a catalyst for economic development. Chattanooga, TN is a prime example of a location that has implemented this model and has since become a magnet for the tech industry due to the reliability and affordability of its broadband network. The OpenCape network is an excellent start to this concept, and the state should make available more funding to boost its expansion.
Small Business Support
Small businesses are the bedrock of our local economy, and we must foster an environment that enables their success. We should seek to create an environment where we produce and consume more locally, allowing money to remain in the community. Regional economic development with a focus on small businesses is paramount. We need more bottom-up deductions and must work with our local & community banks to help increase access to credit.
Areas of Focus
2035, not 2050
Recently, the MA house of representatives passed a bill committing MA to carbon neutrality by 2050. 2050 is too distant for our planet and especially our Cape Cod community, which will be disproportionately affected by more powerful storms, sea-level rise, and ocean acidification. Meanwhile, Germany has recently proposed a bill to rely completely on renewables by 2035. We should lead by example and commit to completely carbon-neutral energy generation by 2035.
Modernize the Electric Grid
Switching to electrical transport will double our electricity demand. Both increasing demand and complete commitment to renewables is impossible without modernizing the electrical grid, which is currently built for fossil fuels. We propose a radical change to the electrical grid in MA, by introducing local grid-level battery installations that will enable a completely carbon-neutral future. It will give autonomy to local communities to manage their energy use, eliminate energy waste and enable locals to sell all of their household solar at a fair price.
While Massachusetts alone cannot change the world, we live in one of the wealthiest states in one of the wealthiest countries in the world. We can lead the way, yet currently, we do not. We need to be bold on climate. We want to provide state support for emerging climate technologies that can make a difference, shouldering the risk to speed up the wide-scale adoption of technologies that will in years to come have a global impact. It’s the only way to lead. We seek to achieve this by fostering an entrepreneurial environment through state funding and reducing legislative hurdles for green technology.
Using our Expertise
MA has incredible expertise in environmental technologies through our universities. Yet that research goes out of state to become business, in complete contrast to the biotech sector. We want to learn from our own successes: the marriage of talent, technology, and government support. We have invested over $2 billion in biotech since 2008 to create an ecosystem that works. We must emulate that with green technology to drive the innovation that will save our planet.
State Budget Priority
At present, we only dedicate .5% of the state budget to environmental protection. We should make a commitment to increase this share to 1% of the overall state budget. There is a significant return on investment in doing so, and our communities would stand to reap the benefits given that our region’s economic health is directly connected to its environmental health.
The state government has an enormous role to play in addressing this issue as it helps to protect a region whose environmental health impacts a tourism-based economy which generates a significant portion of state tax revenues. The creation of the Cape Cod Water Protection Fund in 2018 was a positive step; however, more can be done in addressing this problem including support for ecosystem restoration, as well as incentivizing homeowners to reduce the amount of nitrogen that is put into the natural environment.
We should guarantee that every citizen of our Commonwealth has access to clean drinking water. The proliferation of chemicals such as PFAS in the drinking water on Cape Cod is a deeply concerning development that requires far more urgent attention given the fragile nature of our sole source aquifer on Cape Cod.
Combat Plastic Pollution
Scientists project that by 2050, there may be more plastics than fish in our oceans. Broken down over time, microplastics from our waste get into the food web and eventually into the seafood which we consume. Single-use plastics choke our roadways, beaches, and public spaces. The extent of this problem is vastly understated and the utility of these products is outweighed by the long-term damage they cause to our environment. Massachusetts could be a leader in terms of reducing our planetary footprint. We must lead by phasing out single-use plastic products while moving towards suitable alternatives.
Plymouth is home to the widely controversial former Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant facility. For the protection of citizens and the surrounding environment, we must ensure that the site is properly maintained and that Holtec Corporation is subject to regulations that will prevent accidents or disasters that will harm our district. This includes ensuring NO dumping of radioactive water into Cape Cod Bay.
Nearly 30% of MA carbon emissions come from household heating, mostly from gas boilers. The switch to heat pumps for carbon-neutral household heating is inevitable, and we should encourage such changes to happen as fast as possible. The current rebate system is a good step, but we must ensure there are enough skilled workers in MA to enable a fast transition away from fossil fuel heating.
It is no secret that we are encountering more frequent intense weather events, and our region is extremely vulnerable to coastal flooding. If the current climate modeling holds true – things will only get worse in the decades to come. We must work with science to deal with these changes now, as it will only be more costly in the future with continued inaction.
Areas of Focus
Massachusetts is the only state in the country where the Governor’s office and members of the Legislature are exempt from laws requiring the release of public records and Massachusetts is ranked as one of the least transparent governments in the nation. Despite extensive oversight at the municipal level, in Massachusetts, the higher the office, the less accountability there is. This is a hallmark of a broken system and it needs to change. Committee votes should be made public, legislators should have at least 72 hours to review legislation they are expected to vote on, and there should be term limits on the Speaker of the House who wields far too much power in controlling the legislative agenda of our Commonwealth.
Fair Pay for Staffers
In early 2018, the passage of H.B. 58 raised pay for state legislators – but left out a crucial component: increased pay and budget for staffers. These public servants work long hours for little pay and often have to take second jobs to meet the outrageous cost of living in the Boston area. We must support the efforts of MSHEU to unionize on Beacon Hill. Further, many elected officials don’t have enough staff to handle their district casework as well as their legislative priorities while extra staffers are used as bargaining chips by House Leadership in order to get rank and file Reps to conform to their agenda. As a professional legislature, elected officials should have enough staff to do the people’s work and staffers should be paid with dignity. Further, staff should reflect the diverse communities which make up our Commonwealth.
Public Funding of Elections
Elections should be a contest of ideas – and money should not block individuals with good ideas and a commitment to serve from stepping forward and running for office. Many of our problems in state government stem from a lack of good legislators who are truly accountable to their communities, as the barriers to entry to run for office are high. At the state level, we should be doing everything we can to bring people into the political process, and prevent special interest money from influencing our politics. Healthy debate is good for democracy and public service should be about a genuine devotion to the public interest, not carving out a lucrative career.
Massachusetts is home to some of the world’s most prestigious universities and research institutions, while our technology sector makes up an increasing share of our economy. We should leverage these assets by finding ways in which we can use technology to help eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse in our State Government. Open-source programs and a focus on harnessing data to improve government efficiency and increased service delivery should be a top priority.
State Holidays for Elections
Election Day should be marked as a celebration of civic engagement, and our Commonwealth should do everything possible to make it easier for people to vote. Election Day should be made a state holiday to afford the working men and women of our Commonwealth the opportunity to vote, without fear of penalty from their employment.
Same-Day Voter Registration
We should be making it as easy as possible for people to vote. Same-day voter registration should be the minimum standard and legal MA residents should be automatically registered to vote in the community where they reside when they become of voting age.
Ranked-choice voting gives the voters the best avenue of getting the leaders desired by the electorate without “wasting a vote.” Coupled with public funding of elections, it would ensure healthier competition for public office which is good for our democracy. It should be pursued in the Commonwealth.
Taxpayers expect their money to be spent wisely and in a manner that advances the public interest. We must make the current bidding process for state contracts more fair, transparent, and confirm they abide by a fiscal litmus test.