Five of Six 8th Essex State Rep Candidates Answer Questions
On September 6, 2022, six Democrats will face off in the primary for the 8th Essex District State Representative seat. There are no Republicans or third-party candidates running. Barring a strong write-in candidate in November, the winner of the primary among the Democrats will be the new state representative for our district.
Marblehead Beacon sent each of the six candidates a questionnaire. Beginning today and through the days immediately ahead of the primary, we will publish one substantive question along with all of the responses. We also will feature some lighter, more personal questions and answers from candidates in coming days.
Editor’s Note: After several emails and two phone calls, the only response we received from Tristan Smith's campaign was from a spokesperson who said the candidate might be too busy to complete the questionnaire. He was the only one of the six candidates who did not submit answers.
QUESTION #1: As things currently stand, the candidate who wins the primary on September 6th likely will be the winner in the general election because there are no Republican or third-party candidates running. Each of the six Democrats in your race has similar positions–whether on climate change, the Fair Share Amendment, affordable housing, or other issues. With that in mind, do you believe it is a problem that your positions will not be challenged or stress tested for the benefit of voters?
Voters provide the stress test. This is an open primary, which attracts Democrats and unenrolled voters with a variety of views. I have spoken with many people who do not agree with me on every issue. I learn from their perspectives, and that’s exactly what I will continue to do if I am fortunate enough to be elected.
Further, voters are interested in who has the experience, will, and skill to advocate on their behalf and get results for our communities. That’s a critical aspect of the job. The relationships I’ve developed through grassroots political organizing are great strengths and a key differentiator in this race.
My ideas and priorities are stress tested every day in my conversations with voters on their doorstep – in fact my platform has been built in large part based on those conversations. I’ve knocked on thousands of doors since starting this campaign, and I’ve had a lot of terrific conversations with voters of all political persuasions on issues where we don’t always agree, but can find some common ground. For example, I’m a long-time advocate against gun violence and I’ve had conversations with gun owners at their front door who come at this issue from a different perspective, but through civil dialogue we’ve been able to agree that our laws should keep guns out of the hands of individuals who are a risk to themselves and others, and that gun licensing at the local level, administered by police chiefs and involving a careful review of the background of each applicant, is the best way to do that. Also that the Red Flag Law, the law that I helped pass in the Massachusetts Legislature, is an appropriate way to ensure removal of guns and gun licenses from individuals who the courts determine pose an extreme risk to themselves or others. I’ve also learned a lot by speaking with teachers about the need for more counselors and therapists in our schools. As a result of those conversations, and my own experience as a parent, I’ll be pushing for more resources for this in the state budget. I’ve also had great conversations about the balance between sustainability and preserving the fishing and lobstering industry in our region. A candidate can learn a lot when they actively listen to voters.
Tristan Smith: Did not respond to questionnaire. See editor's note above.
While I believe we are not as alike as we appear to be, I think it is a major problem that registered republicans do not have the opportunity to take part in this election. I truly believe that every voter should be allowed to choose a primary ballot or ballots should contain both party candidates. Why not be able to split your vote between parties? Many people like to vote for a candidate and not just a party.
It would be ideal to have a Republican candidate to build further clarity on the will of the people in this district, but this primary will include many unenrolled voters that present a broader diversity of perspective than a closed Democratic primary. I do think that there is a robust debate happening amongst the current candidates. It takes some work, but if people look closely they will see that there are differences in our priorities and the depth that we are addressing the issues. For example, I am the only candidate that has any comprehensive plan to address the biggest part of the state budget and an issue for almost every voter - healthcare costs. I have a very detailed plan to address this issue at doug4rep.com. While many people are talking about the problem of climate change and coastal resiliency, I am the candidate with the most detailed and boldest plan to get us to Net Zero. I have also taken a leadership role in getting special interest contributions out of this race. I have also called for a complete rethinking of our transportation system and the development of a 25-year plan to fully modernize our statewide transportation system.
Yes, I do believe it is an issue that our positions are not stress tested. I also believe that it is important for all candidates to be challenged on their leadership style and approach to legislating; we all must be pushed to be as specific and detailed as possible in our plans for implementing our legislative priorities, not simply on what those priorities are. This is how voters will be able to distinguish the candidates from one another and voters can have a greater understanding of the political philosophy each candidate holds.