Tristan Smith Part II: “Labor Built This Country and Can Do it Again!”
Editor’s Note: Each of the six candidates for State Representative of the 8th Essex District recently sat down for a conversation with Marblehead Beacon. Last week, we covered Tristan Smith’s personal and professional background. This week, we are focusing on some key issues he finds most relevant to his campaign.
Smith owns a hybrid Honda Clarity, which at 45 miles per charge allows him to easily cover the entirety of the district he is campaigning to represent. He stresses that adding more charging stations throughout the community is a high priority. “We are not there yet,” he notes, and “should not put the cart before the horse.” He envisions charging stations installed in all multi-family homes and apartment complexes in the future. Other important steps to combat climate change, according to Smith, include the expansion of solar and offshore wind power-generation capabilities. With the many academic institutions operating in Massachusetts, “we should harness the brain power of engineering professionals to prepare the electric grid so that….when consumers are ready to go electric…the grid is ready for them”.
While acknowledging that some workers may be displaced as we move from non-renewable to renewable energy sources, Smith says he would support climate bills that include training for fossil-fuel industry workers to transition to twenty-first century green tech jobs and offer them the “first crack” in the hiring process. “Labor built this country,” Smith emphasizes, “and can do it again.”
Smith also noted that the building he lives in recently converted from oil heat to electric heat pumps. Mass Save participated, something he believes could be offered to incentivize landlords to make the transition more affordable and practical
Smith is also a proponent of enhanced public transportation in Massachusetts, which he would like to see modeled on the European system. This includes electrifying existing lines on the commuter rail network. He also vowed to fight to expand the MBTA Blue Line Subway, which currently stops in Revere, to Lynn. He is concerned about the traffic in Bell Circle in Revere and how the development at Suffolk Downs over the next several years will affect congestion and traffic patterns. If elected, he would propose a major transportation infrastructure project for Route 1A, which currently is not included in the proposed development. He emphasized that “Bell Circle… is between us and the city!”
Smith views teachers as the lifeblood of our education system and integral to students’ social and emotional wellbeing, but notes there is room for improvement. We should ”tweak our focus,” he says, and calls for civics-focused learning, particularly in high school, because we are not all “going to be mathematicians…or scientists but we are all going to visit a ballot box.”
Smith advocates a strong sex-education curriculum in public schools schools beacuse it is essential to prepare students to go out into the world. Teachers and staff must be honest with students and provide an inclusive environment for everyone, he notes, including LGTBQ+ students. School districts have a “tough balance to strike,” he says, wondering what would happen if parents did not want their students to be taught civics or history because they felt the curriculum had some kind of “slant” to it. This could become “a slippery slope,” Smith explained, and ultimately, it is “the teacher’s job to determine what is taught.”
“Housing is a statewide issue that is dealt with on the municipal level,” says Smith. He would like to see the state expand beyond existing programs. In particular, Smith supports block grants to towns and cities that build affordable housing. The grant could be used for anything the municipality deems necessary; for example local harbor or waterfront improvements or construction of a sports complex.
Smith notes that he has met with the director of Swampscott Public Housing and the head of its tenant association during the course of his campaign. There are a lot of maintenance issues on existing properties, Smith contends, and suggests that we must upgrade this housing before we can build more, but also stresses the importance of both improving and increasing our public housing stock.
Smith’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 Smith’s opponents, Jenny Armini, and her family for more than 25 years. Robinson’s husband, Dwight Robson, has donated to Armini's campaign.