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By Ken Brociner
There are eight candidates vying for the four At-Large seats on Somerville City Council. For most of the city’s residents, trying to figure out who to vote for on November 2 won’t be an easy task. With that in mind, I will offer my own take on each of the nominees in the hope that it may help you think about the four that would most effectively guide our city in the years to come.
I will begin with the four candidates who I believe are the most qualified to represent the approximately 80,000 residents of our city.
Kristen Strezo is the only incumbent At-Large Councilor to stand for re-election, and based on her year and a half of exceptional service on the Council, we would all benefit from giving her two more years to be a strong advocate. women. , workers and the most marginalized members of our community. Its list of supporters is too long to list here, but it includes Ayanna Pressley, Joe Curtatone, the Greater Boston Labor Council and Mass. Women’s Political Caucus.
Justin Klekota has so many impressive credentials that it’s hard to keep up with them all. For example, Justin was instrumental in crafting the resolution that became a key part of the Green New Deal that was passed by both the Mass State government and the city of Somerville.
Klekota is a longtime Somerville resident who has not only been active in progressive politics at the local level, he has also been an outspoken leader in the larger LBGTQ community. As if that wasn’t enough, Justin is also Somerville’s representative on the Democratic State Committee. As such, he has done his best to ensure that progressive views are always incorporated into the ongoing work of the DSC. Of the many professional hats Klekota wears, perhaps none is more important than being a researcher in the fields of breast and early childhood cancer control and the development of new flu vaccines.
Justin was supported by City Councilor Mary Jo Rossetti, school committee members Carrie Normand and Ilana Krepchin, the LBGTQ Victory Fund, the Somerville Fire Fighters Association and several other local organizations.
Tracey Leah Pratt’s campaign was shattered by a serious health emergency that took her out of service from late July to early October. Luckily, she’s doing well now and is giving her all to win one of the four At-Large seats on the Council.
Matt McLaughlin, who by all accounts is one of the most progressive and successful members of city council, had this to say about Tracey:
If I can get people to vote for one person, it would be Tracey Leah Pratt. I don’t support her because she would be the first African American woman to sit on city council, or because our ideals are perfectly aligned with every issue. I support her because I really believe that her voice is needed at the town hall.
Tracey is not a politician. She is an educator both professionally and in everyday life. While some people associate their names with groups or causes for personal gain, Tracey creates groups and advocates for causes in an inclusive and caring way. She helped form the the Just Us Somerville group to represent people of color who felt their voices were being co-opted by people who want to use the movement for their own benefit. She served as chair of the Ward 1 Democratic Committee and helped select the city’s first Race and Social Justice Director.
Jake Wilson’s campaign has also been slow to reach cruising speed. The reason for this says a lot about the kind of person Jake is. He was so focused on making sure Somerville Youth Soccer would continue on a solid footing after passing his leadership on to someone else that for several months he just didn’t have time to do everything in his bid. for the city. Advice. Wilson’s deep and long-standing commitment to hundreds of children and their families throughout our community has been well known for some time. But now that he feels Somerville Youth Soccer is in good hands, he’s knocking on as many doors as possible before November 2.
Jake is a pragmatic progressive who sees himself as an independent socialist who, interestingly, is not aligned with the Democratic Socialists of America. I think he would make a wonderful addition to the city council
Virginia Hussey’s life story is truly fascinating. She was a veteran of the Iraq war who found herself homeless on her return. She’s a single mom and longtime Somerville resident who has coached youth sports and given back to the community in other ways as well. But when it comes to his political views and judgment, his support for William “Stop the Steal” Tauro raises more than a few questions about his suitability for a city council seat..
Three of the candidates vying for the At-Large seats come forward as a list they call “Somerville for All”. Eve Seitchick, Willie Burnley Jr. and Charlotte Kelley have identical positions on all issues – all of which correspond to positions taken by the Boston chapter of the Democratic Socialist of America (DSA).
On most issues, their positions are resolutely progressive. However, they seem to ignore the fact that the current Somerville City Council has proposed or already passed many of the plans that DSA has campaigned on.
Eve, Willie and Charlotte all genuinely (and naively) believe that they represent the forefront of a new movement in America that is being led by DSA. As an actor on the American left for 50 years, I know this state of mind very well.
All three are young and relatively new to leftist politics. In my opinion, their zealous attachment to their new ideology and organizational affiliation is not much different from converts to a new religion.
Another trait they all share is that they see the world in such a simplistic way that they have convinced themselves that the majority of Americans will eventually see the light and embrace their way of thinking, no matter how extreme. extreme of some of their opinions.
For example, all of them support the “abolish the police” movement. Apparently, they don’t mind (if they thought about it seriously at first) that Somervillians who live in the most criminal neighborhoods see this “move” as nothing more than a cruel joke.
On one level, however, the slate “The Somerville For All” understood that their plea for abolishing the police was unlikely to be welcomed by the overwhelming majority of Somerville residents. So what did they do? Hide it from voters. Check out their websites and campaign materials – their support for abolishing the police is nowhere to be found.
Same thing with their explicitly stated goal of making Somerville “the first town in New England history to have a socialist majority on city council.” Aside from what most Somervillians may feel about it, the point is that the “Somerville for All” slate has decided to keep one of their key goals from… the people of Somerville! You certainly won’t find it on any of their websites or any of their posts.
What I find most infuriating about all of this is the frequency with which these three candidates proclaim their commitment to political “transparency”. Perhaps they themselves are unable to see it, but rather than “transparency” a more appropriate word for this strategy would be “deception”.
Ken Brociner has lived in Somerville since 1975. His essays, columns, and reviews have appeared in Dissent, In These Times, the Boston Phoenix, and the Somerville Journal, among other publications.