Candidates in 14th Middlesex Race Focus on Personal Traits
Fourth in a series of stories profiling legislative races that will be decided Sept. 4.
By Alana Melanson
CHELMSFORD -- In a race where the three Democrats running for the primary largely agree on major issues, candidates for the 14th Middlesex District are focusing on the unique things they think they can bring to the Statehouse.
For Benjamin Bloomenthal, of Acton, it’s his years of budget and management experience and leadership roles in different areas of state government, first as an auditor and now as manager of federal programs for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.
For Tami Gouveia, of Acton, it’s her career as a public health social worker, working directly on issues surrounding the opioid epidemic and substance abuse, and experience with advocacy, policy work and coalition building. As former executive director of Tobacco Free Mass, she worked with legislators on a recently-enacted bill to raise the sales age of tobacco products to 21.
Gouveia also has the backing of longtime state Rep. Cory Atkins, whose impending retirement has left this seat wide open for political newcomers to take the reins.
For Christian Krueger, of Concord, it’s his youthful energy, life experience and openness to other perspectives that he feels will help him craft legislation that justly affects everyone. He didn’t attend college and is part of a generation that grew up participating in school shooting drills -- perspectives he feels are lacking in state government.
All three support instituting carbon pricing, single-payer health care and infrastructure investments to make public transportation and roadways more reliable and efficient.
They believe the heaviest fossil fuel users and polluters should pay for their environmental impact that is contributing to climate change.
Gouveia and Krueger said they support investments in renewable energy resources, such as solar and wind, and workforce retraining to help people cross over into jobs that are better for the environment.
“We’ve been through this before, where we’ve had major disruption to our economy, and we got through it,” Gouveia said, pointing to the Industrial Revolution and the computer age.
She and Bloomenthal said companies like National Grid need to be held accountable for gas leaks and overall maintenance of their infrastructure.
“It’s irresponsible of public utility companies to not maintain their infrastructure and then pass the costs onto the consumer,” Bloomenthal said.
If elected, he said he would love to put forward a bond bill to help address the backlog of repair projects at the MBTA.
Gouveia said sitting on clogged roadways or slowly moving trains puts stress on commuters and takes up time they could be spending with their families. She said there are good models of public transit in other parts of the country and world that Massachusetts can look to for examples.
Krueger said he’d like to see high-speed rail across the state, ensuring residents access to good paying jobs. He said road improvements must be made with an eye toward emerging technologies such as driverless cars.
Krueger said he takes a holistic view of the issues, believing access to transportation and health care “tie very much into income inequality.”
He said he wants to find a way to provide free lunch for all public school students across the state.
As a lower-income student, the 2010 Concord-Carlisle Regional High School graduate said he knows what it’s like to have his hot lunch taken away and replaced by a cheese sandwich -- “a symbol of ‘I’m poor’” -- because there wasn’t enough money in his account.
“I’d like to see that no kid has to deal with that,” Krueger said. “You can’t learn when you’re hungry, or feel ashamed.”
Gouveia said it’s unacceptable that people have to forego life-saving and life-improving treatments because they can’t afford health care or declare bankruptcy due to medical bills.
“I have been underinsured and uninsured as a single parent,” she said. “I know what it means to be worrying about not going to the doctor or not getting the care that I need.”
The candidates agree Chelmsford got a raw deal when it lost its single representative and was split up between four districts. All said they would work toward updating state funding formulas to ensure all towns get their fair share and can provide equitable education for students.
Krueger also said he’d advocate for an independent redistricting panel to analyze and redraw representative district lines to be fairer and better group communities that share common interests.
Whoever wins the Sept. 4 primary will go up against Green-Rainbow Party candidate Danny Factor, of Acton.
Bloomenthal said he feels what separates this race from others in the state is the cordiality and friendliness of all of the candidates, many of whom have worked together in the past on progressive issues.
“The district is in extremely good hands regardless of who wins, as far as I’m concerned,” he said.
The 14th Middlesex District includes Chelmsford Precincts 1 and 9, Acton Precincts 1, 2 and 6, Concord and Carlisle.
Follow Alana Melanson at facebook.com/alana.lowellsun or on Twitter @alanamelanson.
Coming Thursday: Reporter Rick Sobey profiles the race for 18th Middlesex District state representative.