Opinion guest column

Voting in the Democratic Primary? The MIT Dems endorse these candidates

These candidates offer promising platforms on housing, public transportation, and other important issues.

Primary elections are set to take place in Massachusetts on Tuesday, September 4th. These are pivotal elections, taking place at an important time in our country and in our state. How we vote in September and November will affect issues that directly impact the student population, such as housing policy and transportation reform. But who in Massachusetts isn’t impacted in some way by the housing market or by the effects of a less-than-thriving public transit system? These are only a few of many social policy issues that loom large for all Massachusetts residents. In the primary elections, we vote on which candidates from each party will end up on the general election ballots in November.

To help residents on or near MIT’s campus navigate the Democratic primary ballot, the MIT Democrats are proud to endorse the following candidates. These races are for some of the top positions in the state, including Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, District Attorney for Middlesex County, and the MA-7 seat in the US House of Representatives. They also represent the critical struggle currently taking place all over the country between long-time politicians and relative newcomers fighting to shape the future of the Democratic party and the national political climate.

U.S. House of Representatives, MA-7: Ayanna Pressley

We endorse Ayanna Pressley for Representative for MA-7. While Pressley and incumbent representative Capuano are in close agreement on policy issues, Pressley will likely write and sponsor legislation addressing important social issues including equity for women, poverty alleviation, sexual violence prevention, and racial equality.

We feel that her years of experience as a senior aide and political director for Representative (and then Senator) Joseph Kennedy II and later John Kerry give her a familiarity with the Washington political process that will aid her in her role as Representative. We feel that she has demonstrated her political capabilities well in her position as city councilor. We believe that she will represent MA-7 successfully and prioritize many issues that are important to MIT students, such as affordable housing, immigration reform, and the environment. While Representative Capuano has been a loyal liberal vote in his time in congress, we believe Pressley will better represent a new generation as a progressive voice in the Democratic party.

Lieutenant Governor: Quentin Palfrey

We endorse Quentin Palfrey for Lieutenant Governor. Palfrey is a dedicated civil servant with years of government service under his belt and a track record of strong leadership on the issues that matter most to progressives in Massachusetts.

Quentin previously served as the Executive Director of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) North America here at MIT, an organization dedicated to enhancing the use of evidence-based decision-making in tackling poverty and inequality in the United States. He also served in the Obama Administration in the Office of Science & Technology Policy and the Department of Commerce. He has shown a strong commitment to tackling big issues like systemic inequality, criminal justice reform, health care, education, and voter protection. His ambitious progressive vision, understanding of the importance of data and evidence, and practical experience serving the public make him the most qualified candidate in this race.

Middlesex County DA: Donna Patalano

We endorse Donna Patalano for Middlesex County District Attorney. The criminal justice system unfairly favors the wealthy and privileged, and inequalities persist in how the law is enforced. The district attorney's office has great power to bring fairness and transparency to law enforcement, and Donna Patalano has demonstrated her commitment to making change. She understands racial disparities in sentencing, the failure of mass incarceration, and how cash bail disproportionately hurts the working class. She has also made a commitment to increase transparency in the District Attorney’s office, including thorough data collection and publication. For her consistent support of criminal justice reform and reducing social and economic injustice in law enforcement, MIT Democrats is proud to support Donna Patalano.

Secretary of State: Josh Zakim

We endorse Josh Zakim for Secretary of State because his platform on voting rights would make it easier to vote in Massachusetts, particularly for students, whose voices are underrepresented in state and local politics. Zakim had supported and fought for automatic voter registration at the state level for years before it passed the state legislature this spring. He also supports election-day voter registration, early voting, weekend election days, absentee voting with no need for a legal excuse, and ranked choice voting. This is in contrast to his opponent, who has defended in court the 20-day registration deadline that makes it difficult for students to organize and vote in Massachusetts elections — particularly in primary elections, where the voter registration deadline falls before students arrive on campus.

Zakim is an attorney and community activist and was elected to the Boston City Council in 2013. He has chaired several city committees, most recently the Committee on Civil Rights. Among many other achievements on the Boston City Council, Zakim authored the Boston Trust Act (a ‘sanctuary city’ bill) and co-sponsored legislation to enable a lite version of automatic voter registration in Boston. His valuable experience and commitment to expanding access to the ballot for all makes us proud to support Zakim for Secretary of State.

We hope that these endorsements are helpful and informative for members of the MIT community and surrounding areas. For more information, including to check your own voting registration status, and a guide to all the Democratic primary candidates, please visit vote2018.mit.edu and democrats.mit.edu.

Davi da Silva is a PhD student in HST and the President of MIT Democrats.

Ellen DeGennaro is a PhD student in HST and a member of MIT Democrats.

Burhan Azeem is a Senior in Materials Science and Engineering and a member of MIT Democrats.

Ahmed Elbashir is a Sophomore in EECS and a member of MIT Democrats.