From a change in climate to a campaign against climate change, here’s where the winds are blowing
While many in the region are focused on Annissa Essaibi George and Michelle Wu in the race to lead Boston, just across the Charles, two candidates emerged from Somerville’s preliminary election to replace longtime mayor Joe Curtatone.
Will Mbah and Katjana Ballantyne both opted to leave Somerville’s City Council for a shot at the mayor’s office. Ballantyne is a local government veteran with seven years on the council, while Mbah packs more progressive street cred, including endorsements from the Sunrise Movement and Our Revolution.
Curtatone has not yet endorsed his potential replacement (check our partners at the Somerville Wire at binjonline.org for more coverage of Somerville races and an exclusive interview with outgoing mayor Curtatone).
Meanwhile, back in Boston, the City Council is about to shift significantly, with four councilors sacrificing their seats for mayoral runs, while Councilor Matt O’Malley simply gave up his seat. The Boston Globe recently characterized the final two mayoral candidates as “old Boston” (Essaibi George) versus “new Boston” (Wu), and a similar thing could be said about the council scrum.
Only two at-large incumbents remain—Michael Flaherty, and Julia Mejia. Name recognition alone will likely propel them back on, leaving the remaining six candidates to vie for the two remaining at-large seats. Bridget Nee-Walsh is an iron worker with the expected union support that comes with that background. David Halbert works for MIT’s Educational Justice Institute. Carla Monteiro is a social worker for Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Boston Children’s Hospital, and Ruthzee Louijeune is a lawyer and an affordable housing advocate. Erin Murphy is a teacher and the police union favorite. While Althea Garrison, who has far more experience running campaigns than actually winning them, is also in the mix.
In West Roxbury and Jamaica Plain, Kendra Hicks finished in first place, followed by former Boston School Committee member Mary Tamer. Hicks ran a strong grassroots campaign, while Tamer has support in West Roxbury, including from outgoing Councilor O’Malley.
Real estate broker Brian Worrell is facing former state Rep. Evandro Carvalho to represent Mattapan on the council. Tania Fernandes Anderson led the ballot to serve Roxbury, while 28 votes gave perennial election loser Roy Owens the opportunity to once again keep talking about abortions while running for local office. -Zack Huffman
The next state election is a little over a year away, but that has not stopped former state Sen. Ben Downing from campaigning to be our next Democratic governor, on an environmentalist platform.
If elected, he promises to convert the state to 100% clean electricity by 2030, and to convert all non-electric energy use to clean energy by 2040.
Downing is relying on his record as a former five-term state senator during which he frequently worked on climate policy. For three of his terms, he chaired the Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy Committee. After leaving office, he worked at Nexamp, a clean energy company.
Now a resident of Eastie, Downing is a strong supporter of fare-free transit and a Massachusetts Civilian Climate Corps, plus opposes all new fossil fuel infrastructure in the state and hopes to require at least half of all climate spending to directly benefit environmental justice communities. Having served in the state senate during the administrations of both Republican Charlie Baker and Democrat Deval Patrick, Downing said he noticed a significant drop in urgency around climate issues once the former took office, from the procurement of offshore wind to connecting clean energy to the grid.
“I think what we saw from the Baker administration was lip service without urgent action, certainly not the prioritization that climate requires, and definitely not a prioritization around equity and justice principles,” Downing said. “I think the governor has looked at it and said, What do I have to do so that people think I’m doing something?”
Read our full interview with Downing here. -Jon Lamson
Democrats in DC continue to use their control of the House, Senate, and White House to leverage votes in the 2022 midterm elections.
Hey, it’s easier than actually getting policy work done.
Part of this posturing and ineffectiveness might be the result of aging leadership among the Dems, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is in her second consecutive term leading the House after promising to step aside by 2020. It could also be because Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is spending more time sparring with conservative Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema than making inroads on the GOP’s legislative blockade.
Most recently, the party has realized that by doing very little about Texas’ draconian abortion ban, they have an issue they can run on. It’s also telling that the latest Dem win on a national scale involved sinking millions of dollars into saving California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s ass in a recall election.
That recall effort was largely driven by conservatives’ anger over mask mandates. It was an absurd stance, to be sure. To beat it back, Dems simply did what they are best at: point at the opponent and declare, Hey, at least we aren’t them! -Zack Huffman