Op-eds:

August 24, 2018
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JP Progressives: Who we endorsed and why

By Andrew Breton, Ziba Cranmer, Nikki Kong, and Kristin Johnson

This year, JP Progressives created a member-driven endorsement process. It starts with a candidate questionnaire, forum in JP, and community conversation among members. Our Steering Committee makes a majority recommendation communicated to our hundreds of voting members. If 60 percent of voting members support a candidate, they receive our endorsement, and more importantly, the volunteer advocacy of our motivated grassroots members. (For our surveys, videos, and detailed endorsements, visit our Facebook page at bit.ly/2I7gPqY.)

This process affirms our commitment to respect different viewpoints and then strive to come together. Because we are a ‘big tent’ organization housing a range of progressive viewpoints, steering committee members retain personal autonomy to publicly support other candidates. The organization’s endorsements and where we direct our time and resources, however, reflect the priorities of the majority of our members. If you like what you see here and would like to volunteer—or if you disagree with some of our endorsements and want to make your voice heard in our community in the future—we welcome your input! We believe that whoever does the work should get a vote, and you can participate in our next vote by emailing us at [email protected] and volunteering with us or coming to one of our events.

The upcoming Sept. 4 primary election has close races with big implications for Jamaica Plain and Boston. This primary election provides opportunities to become a more progressive and just community. JP Progressives have spent months tracking these races and we encourage you to support these progressive candidates. Not only should you vote for them on Sept. 4, but we invite you to support them however you can in these final days of their campaigns.

Because we are here to serve our neighbors in Jamaica Plain, we start with the local races.

State Representative Races (JP Districts):

11th Suffolk District: Liz Malia

Liz is an ever-present and reliable advocate for her constituents’ progressive priorities. She is dedicated to constituent services and co-sponsored 13 of the 16 bills on the Progressive Mass Legislative Agenda, which is a critical step in bringing a bill to a vote. She has led on criminal justice reform, mental health, combating the opioid epidemic, and affordable housing over her career, and we should re-elect Liz Malia to continue that work.

15th Suffolk District: Nika Elugardo

Nika is a talented woman of color running on a bold progressive platform including fully-funding public education, reaching fully-renewable energy by 2050, and securing a single-payer healthcare system. She is a former aide to Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz and has 20 years’ experience in economic development and bridging diverse viewpoints to achieve progressive outcomes.

We believe our Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez, a man of color, shares our values, but has not leveraged the power of his new position as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee to pass important legislation on education funding, immigrant protections, and climate change. Instead, he voted with the speaker at nearly every opportunity and received a C-plus from the Progressive Mass Legislator Scorecard.

Suffolk County Races

District Attorney: Rachael Rollins

Alongside the 30 plus member organizations of the Justice for Mass coalition, we endorse Rachael Rollins. The DA is a pivotal role in implementing criminal justice reform. Rachael brings a progressive vision for the office and critical management experience required to implement a change agenda. To avoid splitting the progressive vote between three progressive candidates and losing the race to the more conservative Greg Henning, progressives must coalesce around a single candidate. Rollins’ broad appeal among progressive groups makes her the best choice.

Register of Deeds: Katie Forde

Katie was the recipient of JPP’s Golden Clipboard Award for her activism and in 2016 she lost by only 600 votes to now-incumbent Stephen Murphy. She is dedicated to progressive values and the potential of this office to serve the community’s housing needs.

Congress:

7th Congressional District: Ayanna Pressley

This congressional district is one of the most diverse, progressive, and unequal districts in this country. We believe it should be represented by the rising star Ayanna Pressley. She is an active, bold, passionate progressive who will not only vote the right way but will also be a policy leader fighting for systemic change at the national level.

We believe that lens matters and Ayanna brings a focus on issues that urgently need a champion and impact communities of color, women, and children. Congressman Capuano has done a fine job for this deep blue district, but after two decades, we can’t wait any longer to bring different voices to the Massachusetts Congressional delegation.

Constitutional Offices:

Secretary of State: Josh Zakim

Josh will bring a fresh perspective and a passion for modernizing our democratic institutions to expand participation and transparency. As progressives, we see the value of a more activist secretary of state pushing for critical reforms aimed at boosting voter turnout and improving access to public records. Josh supports same-day voter registration, ranked-choice voting, and other pro-democracy modernizations. After 24 years in office and opposition to some voting reforms, it’s time for the incumbent Bill Galvin to step aside.

Governor: Jay Gonzalez

Jay is a solid progressive who is on the right side of all progressive issues such as implementing fair taxation, building a single-payer health care system, transitioning our economy away from fossil fuels, and improving public transportation. He is experienced in the workings of Beacon Hill from his time in the Patrick Administration. His campaign is best situated to defeat the well-funded Republican Charlie Baker.

Lieutenant Governor: Jimmy Tingle

Tingle brings an inspirational message, an engaging personal story, and likable charisma to the Democratic ticket. Tingle has demonstrated commitment to progressive policies and an ability to effectively communicate our shared values to voters outside traditional liberal bastions like JP. For evidence, watch his fantastic convention speech online (bit.ly/2Mqirz7). Oh, and he’s all about fixing the T.

The authors are members of the Jamaica Plain Progressives steering committee, writing on behalf of the voting members of JP Progressives.

In push for reentry funding, Legislature stepped up

In the final flurry of important and worthwhile legislation making its way through the Legislature this session, lawmakers deserve special recognition for making sure critical funding for reentry programs that help change the lives and build the futures of men and women transitioning from incarceration to the community did not fall by the wayside.

The Conference Committee budget recommendation included $5 million to establish a competitive grant program under the Office of the Commissioner of Probation that will allow non-profit organizations to seek funding for community-based residential reentry programs. And when Gov. Baker vetoed half of that funding, both the House – led by Ways & Means Chairman Jeffrey Sánchez – and Senate rallied opposition that led to successful votes to override the veto and keep the full funding intact.

This was no small victory. The reentry funding comes at a time when organizations providing vital support to men and women trying to start over after incarceration are struggling in Massachusetts. At least four programs have either closed or dramatically scaled back over the past two years because of a lack of funding. Last year, the Massachusetts state budget included just $90,000 for reentry. That’s less than the cost of incarcerating two people in state prison for a year.

With this funding, an estimated 800 men and women will receive intensive case management along with support finding housing, employment, connecting with substance abuse and mental health treatment, and more. These are all key components to providing individuals a solid foundation on which to build a new life.

Data show that these services are sorely needed in Massachusetts. More than two-thirds of people leaving county jails and more than half of those released from state prisons in 2011 were re-arraigned within three years. Participation in a reentry program, however, can reduce recidivism by up to 25 percent for individuals considered at high risk to re-offend. For too long, Massachusetts has not invested in this proven strategy to reduce crime, change lives, and strengthen its communities.

That’s why more than eight months ago, Community Resources for Justice, a reentry services provider headquartered in Boston, began to raise awareness of the dire need for state funding. Soon, the call for funding became a chorus that included defense attorneys, prosecutors, law enforcement officials, community leaders, elected officials, and dozens of individuals and organizations urging change.

Lawmakers on Beacon Hill heard us, and they listened. Sánchez and others made securing this funding a top priority and never wavered. We are thankful that this important element of criminal justice reform is moving forward.

John J. Larivee is President & CEO of Community Resources for Justice.

Lew Finfer is Co-Director of the Massachusetts Communities Action Network and a leader in the Jobs not Jails Coalition

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