Saturday, May 18, 2013

VOTE May 28: State Rep Race in Downtown Boston

Josh Dawson and Jay Livingstone have put their lives on hold for the Boston residents of Beacon Hill, Back Bay and the West End. They are running to be the State Representative for those neighborhoods. A race that began in late January, with the resignation of the previous representative Marty Walz, reaches its presumptive end on May 28, when voters will pick either Livingstone and Dawson in a special primary.

The district they seek to represent at the State House, the 8th Suffolk, is heavily Democratic-- and both Livingstone and Dawson are Democrats. Whoever wins the primary on the 28th will ultimately win the final election on June 25.

All candidates say their races are important; most even say their elections are "the most important." It's a cliche. And I am not going to argue that this election on May 28 is more important than what might be going on Memorial Day weekend. However, elections without an incumbent are very rare in Massachusetts. The winner on May 28 may be our State Representative for a long time. So I am asking anyone reading this who lives in Beacon Hill, Back Bay or the West End in Boston to vote on May 28.

When I speak to voters, they express concerns about what is going on next door. Here on Beacon Hill, a major effort is under way to earn a local public school (even more local than the school proposed for a site near North Station). Residents also worry about local development; a relatively recent proposal to build a large structure where a garage is near City Hall met fierce opposition. Voters also worry about trash and safety. They care about the Esplanade and traffic created by construction on public road ways.

These are local concerns. Our local elected officials impact them. Which is why you should vote in your local elections, such as the special primary for the 8th Suffolk State Representative on May 28.

State Representatives vote on budgets that give money to local municipalities, helping them provide education, public safety and public services. They protect the pubic parks owned by the State. They make sure values the voters care about are reflected in state legislation.

If you live in the 8th Suffolk district, you might not know that your district has a long rich history of representation. Former Congressman Barney Frank held the seat. As did a man with the last name Roosevelt. It's considered an activist seat; it's owner is known for being particularly loud in representing its constituents. Representative Walz often spoke on issues that the State House doesn't even have jurisdiction over, including local education and development issues. Voters in the 8th Suffolk district have come to expect-- even demand-- to see their State Rep everywhere.

State Representatives matter. This Tuesday, May 21, the Boston Ward 5 Democratic Committee will host an event to talk about how they matter. The 7 p.m. panel at the Community Church of Boston at 565 Boylston Street will feature former State Rep Paul Demakis and current State Reps Aaron Michlewitz and Byron Rushing.

The polls will be open on May 28 from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. There won't be a line. Take a few minutes to review the websites for the two candidates, Josh Dawson and Jay Livingstone. They differ on key issues. Download a free voters' guide from the Boston Ward 5 Democratic Committee. Make a decision and get out there and exercise your right to vote.

Experts I have spoken to say the turnout on May 28 will be about 1500. That ridiculously small number will decide who represents the West End, Beacon Hill and Back Bay on what most voters say are their number one issues. That small number will pick the person who we will expect to be omnipresent in local affairs. That small number will help define the political feelings of this area in Boston for months to come. I urge you to be one among that small number.