Saturday, July 26, 2008

Endorsement: Sonia Chang-Diaz

In 2006 I voted for Sonia Chang-Diaz because I could not understand how an incumbent State Senator could forget to put herself on the ballot for reelection.

This year, I am voting for Sonia Chang-Diaz because I think she is the better candidate.

Two years ago, I did not know much of what I wanted from my State Senator. The 2006 election for the MA 2nd Suffolk Senate seat was a bit of a circus. Since no Democrat had filed signatures to be on the ballot, the only way to vote was to write in for a candidate. I arrived at the voting booth in September 2006 for the primary with six stickers in my hand, each with Sonia Chang-Diaz's name on it. It took three of them for me to actually vote according to the directions (the stickers didn't quite fit, and I was panicked if it wasn't perfect, my vote would not count).

We all have had two years to learn more about Sonia Chang-Diaz, and it is now clear that her views and priorities match mine more closely than her opponent's.

To me, priority number one for state-level officials is to build our Boston communities by encouraging young families to stay and establish themselves. Just last night I attended a going away celebration for two good friends and neighbors that are leaving Boston. It reminded me of the numerous other friends who have already left; in fact, it's pretty much conventional wisdom that when you graduate from a Boston-area school, you only stay in the city until you get married. After that, there's no way to afford being here.

The issue of Boston young professional flight is hard to solve, and I don't profess to have a good set of answers. But education is a good place to start. The education system in Boston is in continual need of attention and out-of-box thinking. Education is priority number one for Sonia Chang-Diaz.

As the son of a former elementary school teacher who taught me Kindergarten, I support any creative approach to improving Boston's schools. Education is one of the primary reasons why young families stay or leave.

I look forward to Sonia Chang-Diaz's leadership on education, and I desperately anticipate her participation on the Storrow Drive Tunnel issue. The Storrow Drive Tunnel (and the Longfellow Bridge, for that matter) is in critical need of restoration. The State is currently performing preliminary repairs to the tunnel, but they are nowhere near the level of work required. Planning to fix the tunnel will be a sticky mess. An attempt by the State to usher a public process last year that would address the traffic and community impact of the repair (not to mention what the tunnel would look like after the work is done) fell apart. For Beacon Hill and in my opinion, the Storrow Drive Tunnel will be the number one public issue facing my next State Senator during the early part of the next term.

Much of what I expect of my State Senator for public process issues, such as the tunnel, is to be present. The Chang-Diaz campaign told me this week to expect that Sonia will be an active listener, and will coordinate closely with my State Representative, Marty Waltz. This participation will be very important. The State has indicated that the current preliminary work will be complete by early next year, when the public process for the larger Tunnel refurbishment will start over.

If there is one opinion that I hope Sonia Chang-Diaz will adopt from her opponent, it is strong opposition to the prospect of casinos in Massachusetts. As so many have said, the proposal by Governor Patrick to build casinos is short-sighted. It lacks creativity and frankly is a band-aid to fix the budget issues-- not a long-term solution. (As someone who grew up near two casinos in southeastern Massachusetts, I am not a fan of them.) We should demand that the Governor look for other approaches that solve the budget crisis in a more fundamental way. It's easy to be negative; and I profess I don't have an answer to this problem either, but I think we can do better than building casinos.

Sonia Chang-Diaz has been very visible on the campaign trail. It appears she wants to meet every single voter at least twice during this campaign. I admire her dedication, and I have no doubt she will be just as visible when she is elected. I can't wait to work with her to rectify the issues that concern me and my neighborhood.

I will be voting for Sonia Chang-Diaz in the Massachusetts State Primary, scheduled for September 16.

No comments: