Slavit Baylis Part II: “We Cannot Continue With Fossil Fuels”
Editor’s Note: Each of the six candidates for State Representative of the 8th Essex District sat down for a conversation with Marblehead Beacon. Last week, we covered Diann Slavit Baylis’s personal and professional background. This week, we are focusing on some key issues she finds most relevant to her campaign.
Combating Climate Change
Slavit Baylis sees the environment and climate change as major priorities if elected. An avid surfer, she longs to surf at King’s Beach in Lynn, but it is polluted and frequently unsafe for swimming. It is an infrastructure issue so large it requires funding beyond the local level, notes Slavit Baylis. She wants to be a “cheerleader'' for this project, which she believes is essential to allow people to safely enjoy the coast and will contribute to local property values and to tourism revenues for local businesses.
The electrification of the Newburyport/Rockport commuter rail line is essential to Slavit Baylis’s clean-energy goals, which she notes will allow the use of smaller trains that can run more frequently. Slavit Baylis has called for an environmental review of the Peaker Plant in Peabody, which is used during high-demand times like we have experienced during recent heat waves. While Peaker has been grandfathered to allow the use of fossil fuels, Slavit Baylis explains, “we cannot continue with fossil fuels…we need to find out how we can make this better for the environment.” Her goal is to accelerate the move to 100 percent clean energy in electrical generation, including transitioning all trains and requiring all vehicles to be electric. Slavit Baylis stresses her support of the policy goals outlined by the Massachusetts Climate Action Network.
When pressed, Slavit Baylis acknowledged that for her plans to be viable, electric cars must become more affordable for consumers, and the charging station infrastructure improved dramatically. If elected, Slavit Baylis will seek to be appointed to the Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change.
Gun Violence Prevention
Slavit Baylis prioritizes her fight against gun violence as well. At the time of this interview the House’s proposed bill–which Slavit Baylis strongly supported–sought to make Massachusetts require police chiefs to have face-to-face interviews with firearm license applicants. A last-minute bill agreed by the House and Senate last weekend was delivered to Governor Baker’s desk for approval. It is reported that the final bill does contain the proposed face-to-face language. Angus McQuilken, Slavit Baylis’s husband, campaign manager, and past Democratic candidate for political office, interjected several times during the interview to underscore things he believed were important. With respect to firearms licensing, he said, “just to clarify…discretionary licensing has been the standard in Massachusetts…and that is what the House voted to reaffirm. Discretionary licensing is not new, it is the pillar around which our most-effective-in-the-nation gun laws are built.”
Slavit Baylis’s commitment to preventing gun violence is personal, she says, as someone close to her died of gun violence, which reinforced her commitment to making Massachusetts communities safe. She supports the work of Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, an organization co-founded by her husband. McQuilkn added that he and his wife participated in 2018 in a bicycle ride with Hands Up for Gun Safety (HUGS), a Topsfield-based organization. The group pedaled 210 miles over three days from Topsfield to Newtown, Connecticut, where they were met by Sandy Hook Promise, a non-profit founded by families who had lost members in the Sandy Hook school shooting.
When it comes to education, proper funding is Slavit Baylis’s top priority. “Money is a good start,” she explains, because it is funding that leads to hiring good teachers and expanding needed personnel for English as a Second Language (“ESL”) instruction. We must “invest in our children,” she says, something that is particularly important to Slavit Baylis given the stress students have experienced as a result of Covid-19 and the school shootings across the country. She laments the difficulty in finding professional counseling help both in school buildings and in private practice, and believes that the state revenue surplus should be used in part to increase counseling services for students, though she did not note the role of Massachusetts General Laws, Part I, Title IV, Chapter 62F, which mandates that–with few exceptions–surpluses may not be diverted in this way. Slavit Baylis also is committed to the METCO program and its continued success in the district, though she notes that she is uncertain whether Swampscott participates in the program in the same way that Marblehead does.
We have a lot of issues coming up in the district,” Slavit Baylis says, and we need to be able to adjust and figure out what we want and that is why it is an important time to run for office.” Slavit Baylis’s campaign website may be found here.
Editor’s Note: The author of this story, Jenn Schaeffner, is on the steering committee of the group PowerUP!, on which another candidate for the 8th Essex District–Terri Tauro–serves. Prior to launching Marblehead Beacon, Schaeffner contributed to Tauro's campaign. Additionally, Marblehead Beacon co-founder Lena Robinson and her family have been close to one of Slavit Baylis’s opponents, Jenny Armini, and her family for more than 25 years. Robinson’s husband, Dwight Robson, has donated to Armini's campaign.