Rare in Massachusetts is there an open seat for anything other than County Clerk or the local Library Board of Trustees. So, when a seat opens up for State Representative, the game of musical chairs begins. That's why it's important to make sure the best and brightest of us, progressives who understand the important issues and want to make things better, have a keen ear for the music.
We, as a progressive movement, need to win this political game that isn't a game at all. There aren't enough forward-thinking people on Beacon Hill as it stands, so now that there's an open seat in my home district of Swampscott, Marblehead and part of Lynn, it's important to make sure we have the most compelling, best candidate possible winning that seat of paramount importance, State Representative. Nothing but the future of our health care system, state budget, environment and educational system is at stake, so it's no surprise that a lot of people are interested in the race. Now is the time - campaign time - to weed through the candidates who want change for the better and the other candidates, wishing for more of the same - special interests getting special treatment, instead of the people of Massachusetts.
As it happens, one of BlogLeft Massachusetts's very own, Lori Ehrlich, has jumped into the race - and I've jumped to support her, taking the unenviable position of Field Director. She's earned her progressive bonafides by being a community leader on the environment for years - and lead she has done. As a leader of HealthLink, a local advocacy group pushing for a strong environment, she's helped clean a polluted reservoir that over 80,000 people now use. She's also built a successful small business as a CPA, which has given her insight into all sorts of things, from out-of-control health care costs to what it takes to build a vibrant local economy.
While she kicked off her campaign about two weeks ago, giving her first speech for supporters and the press on the Swampscott and Lynn line, last night served as the real beginning for me. About 40 of us gathered at her house in Marblehead, enjoying pizza and each others' company, discussing just how we're going to win this campaign so we can bring strong community leadership to Massachusetts for all to enjoy. I was amazed by the turnout, which ranged from local campaign volunteer veterans to my friend and fellow blogger John Hosty, who's so excited about the race that he came, despite the fact that he doesn't even live in the district.
It's clear that a lot of people get it: this is a race that will impact the entire state, a chance to put a true leader in office who's worked for years on the sideline trying to institute change. It's a chance to get that kind of community leader involved on Beacon Hill, changing the culture of how our government works. There's no other way to tackle our health care system, unsustainable budgets (largely because of health care costs) and obstacles in creating a strong and diverse economy than by electing true leaders we can count on.
Hopefully, many of you will do your part to create that change. After all, without the grassroots - your help - Lori Ehrlich will have no chance to hear the music, win the seat and create a strong ally for our entire budding movement seeking to change Massachusetts for the better.