The Issues We Are Facing
Medford and Malden after the pandemic face many crucial issues – some similar, some new. Our homes, environment, and livelihoods are at stake. Nichole has spent her entire life fighting for our working families and she plans to bring her collaborative leadership style and hands-on work ethic to Beacon Hill to address the following concerns of residents.
Keeping our Communities Affordable
Medford and Malden are hubs of rich cultural diversity. The best way to maintain this diversity and build a united district showcasing the best of so many backgrounds, is to ensure with concrete policy that all residents get to call Medford and Malden home without fear of exorbitant and rising rent prices or eviction. Malden specifically has one of the highest eviction rates in the state, and 51% of its renters are reported to be cost-burdened or severely cost-burdened. I have seen far too many working families left with little option but to pack up their things and move from the only community they have known due to our rising housing costs. I have learned that celebrating diversity is empty when not coupled with worker and community centered policy that protects, nurtures, and encourages our residents to lay down roots in our community. I myself have experienced child-homelessness and no one in our district should have to suffer that fate. Let’s retake the community and establish the conditions of housing and confront this crisis head-on. Here is how we do it:
- It is high-time we actually addressed homelessness in our state by adopting a housing-first model that provides permanent housing and support services for people experiencing homelessness.
- Rises in rent must be stabilized with a statewide percentage increase cap, with California and Oregon’s examples serving as models. We also need more votes in the State House repealing the ban on rent control in Massachusetts.
- We can’t celebrate our diversity while not standing up for our tenants. We need to introduce a comprehensive Tenants’ Bill of Rights including the right to organize, the right to counsel, protection from unjust fees and evictions, and more.
- The key to ending the housing crisis is to increase our supply of affordable housing. That is why we must end the decades of restrictive zoning practices in wealthier neighborhoods around our state, and fight for new zoning rules that will encourage development projects like the construction of mixed-income or multi-family housing.
- Ensure that all development projects are built by local, union labor that protects wages and ensures the highest safety standards.
Defending ROE in Mass
With ROE on the chopping block at the national level, we cannot settle for Democrats in office who do not support a woman’s right to choose, life-saving surgery, and the right of all women to have easy and free access to medication and medical assistance. Unfortunately, this is not the case in our district. My opponent is an Anti-Choice incumbent who voted against ROE in MA and has co-sponsored legislation requiring unnecessary waiting periods for women seeking abortion. In a district that is so heavily blue, and who overwhelmingly supports a woman’s right to choose, this is not effective representation. Elected officials need to demonstrate their commitment to the rights of their constituents. We currently do not have that. I will be an unflinching advocate of expanding reproductive rights in our district. We need more investment to ensure that there are no economic or racial barriers to this essential aspect of a person’s healthcare. There is no room to take anything for granted, nor to take this issue lightly: roadblocks to reproductive rights completely obstruct the lives of our residents. Here is what we have to do:
- Build a secure firewall around reproductive rights in Massachusetts so we may remain a state where abortion, contraception medication, and pregnancy care are all entrenched within our State’s laws, with no ability to challenge them.
- Require all health insurance plans to cover all pregnancy care costs without dropping high deductibles or other out-of-pocket expenses on patients. Everyone in our district should have control over their bodies, not just those who can afford it.
- Improve access to emergency contraception and ensure that patients are getting the medication that is right for them. Plan B is not the universal solution, we must inform those who need it that there are other opinions which might suit them better. For instance, Ella is more effective at preventing pregnancy but it is often hidden behind a prescription requirement. In addition, patients should be able to acquire this crucial medication across the counter in a quick and easy manner at a nearby pharmacy.
- Invest in doula care so we can give the physical, emotional, and educational support that our birthing parents deserve throughout the entire gestation period (that is before, during, and after birth.)
- Provide full reproductive healthcare to university students on campus, so that distance is not a barrier to those who need care now.
- Thanks to reproductive rights organizations and activists, we just got the State House to include funding to expand abortion access for the first time ever in their FY23 budget. We need to continue to invest in programs and research that improve upon and streamline access to medication.
Healthcare for All
Poverty brings disease and disease brings poverty. I can confidently affirm this cycle because I was a part of it. I was born with a chronic disability in a household that could not front such high bills, and so I found myself in 30k of medical debt. This issue has to be confronted for what it is: will we let people continue to suffer under crushing debt and preventable illnesses because they cannot afford treatment? Massachusetts needs a healthcare system that does not put a price on life, one that states we will treat all in need of medical assistance. That is why we will:
- Fight to expand Medicare so that all in our Commonwealth are covered.
- Recognize dental care as an essential part of any comprehensive health plan. We will restore full MassHealth adult benefits and integrate medical and dental care.
- Ensure immigrant communities can access medical care and updated information without obstacles of language or false narratives. We do this through extensive community outreach projects in churches, health fairs, businesses, and other partners.
- Work proactively to combat health crises by using the science-based recommendations of public health officials.
- Establish safe patient limits and regulations to ensure privately owned hospitals and healthcare providers prioritize the well-being of patients and frontline healthcare workers over cutting costs.
- Publicly fund and stop closing down essential services. We must ensure all communities have access to healthcare.
- We need to recognize mental health as a crucial element to a complete medical system, especially considering the high mental disorder-related mortality rate in our district.
Standing by our LGBTQ+ Neighbors
In 2022 we should know that our representatives support all their residents, no matter their identity. Yet this is not the case in our district, despite it being blue with a large and active LGBTQ+ community. My opponent voted against marriage equality and when it was found constitutional, he introduced a constitutional amendment that would ban that civil liberty again. He was also one of only twelve Democrats to vote against the state’s landmark trans accommodations bill, which was based on a simple premise that the trans community has the right to exist in public spaces. With the issues that our LGBTQ+ community faces around housing, healthcare, and public discrimination, we need proactive Representatives ready to fight and stand up for the queer community on Beacon Hill. I am seeking office so I can legislate for those who have had their needs neglected and who have been forced to hide their identities for too long. Here is how we show up for our LGBTQ+ neighbors:
- Ensure LGBTQ+ people have comprehensive health care without discrimination from providers. Vital health-care needs like hormonal therapy for transgender individuals, and HIV/Aids medication costs often cost burden members of the community.
- Recognize mental health as an integral part of insurance plans. LGBTQ+ individuals disproportionately suffer from this due to the stigma surrounding their identity and the exclusion they often face in school and work environments.
- Tighten discrimination laws so that no one may be fired due to their identity.
- Provide housing opportunities for displaced LGBTQ+ individuals who are far too often forced from their homes by guardians.
- Secure full reproductive rights for a community which is often discriminated against in this area.
Climate change is an imminent threat that will target our most vulnerable communities first. Its effects are insidious: highway overpasses and car exhaust infect our youth with respiratory disease. Ever-heightening heat waves disproportionately harm low-income families who have no ability to pay for AC and its subsequent energy costs. Recent surveys have found that Malden in particular is getting noticeably hotter and that the increased precipitation and elevating sea levels will pose real threats to our homes and families in Medford. The positive side is that we can address other issues while resisting further environmental disasters and building green resiliency. In the State House we will fight:
- To invest in green infrastructure with green jobs initiatives in order to build the sustainable infrastructure of the future while providing healthy, fairly paid, union represented jobs in the present.
- Fulfill the state’s climate roadmap for Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
- To utilize the Massachusetts Vulnerability Preparedness program (MVP) to secure grants for executing plans of climate resiliency in areas like our own that need it.
- To transition the MBTA to a fully electric fleet and establish an extended, fare-free, and improved public transport system to assist working families and incentivize residents to rely less on their cars.
- To provide assistance to families hoping to make their homes sustainable by creating equitable access to solar energy.
- To support renewable energy initiatives like offshore wind projects and solar farms to produce zero and low-carbon energy supplies to power our energy system.
- To update construction practices according to new research in sustainable development.
- To develop and nourish a series of green spaces so our families are provided with safe, comforting areas for our children to play in. And it is also crucial to our collective health as studies find our district is only heating up further every year and the added greenery will serve to absorb the ever-heightening carbon in our atmosphere.
- To establish a state-wide carbon tax on transportation and heating fuel to raise some $500 to 750 million in revenues for green projects.
- To pass a government mandated new energy building code, so our public institutions can set a standard for future sustainable buildings with heat pumps and.
- To further research on solar energy so we can provide it more readily and accessibly to our residents to reduce carbon in our environment and utility costs for our residents.
A Strong and Equitable Education
Education has the opportunity to be one of the great equalizing forces in our Commonwealth. No matter a child’s religious, ethnic, racial, or economic background, they should be given the same opportunities and an equally rewarding education. In order to pursue this goal, however, we need to catch up our schools to the funding they were promised, and get them the funding they need. Our schools should be inviting spaces for education and socializing and, ultimately, they should prepare our youth to pursue fulfilling career paths. However, this is not possible when we have oversized classrooms, an 18% churn rate in Malden, when we cannot even maintain a fleet of buses, and when we undervalue our educators. We need to prioritize education and this means providing for both students এবং the teachers, paras, and other educational professionals who put so much effort, energy, and – unfortunately – their own finances into our children’s future. That is why we need to fight in the State House to:
- Hold the state to the $1.5 billion promised in the Student Opportunity Act. This bill is crucial to providing the money and resources to districts that have been neglected.
- Create a system of universal Pre-K in our Commonwealth because we know that 3-4 year-olds are already in the process of intellectual development, working families need child care, and no students should enter our public education system with economic disadvantages.
- Establish affordable, high quality education and child care for our working families.
- Provide strong wages and benefits for all of our educators and protect their union power. When our teachers are provided for, our youth will be too.
- Prioritize funding to our public schools, specifically those in historically neglected areas that suffer from this lack of attention and which continue histories of racial and economic discrimination.
- Create a system of free public universities so that no one is denied a promising future merely because they cannot afford it.
- Forgive student loans statewide, because investments in education only make returns when graduates are freed from their personal debts and are able to find stability and put their education to use.
- Ensure mental health support in our schools through providing guidance and psychological services. This is especially important since our district has higher than average rates of middle- and high school depression.
- Increase the number of our teachers of color so that our youth have teaching staff that reflects their identities.
Transportation & Infrastructure
We can initiate great public projects, build beautiful parks, establish a system of far-reaching public transit, and yet all of it is moot if we forget about all these plans and infrastructure the day after we cut the ceremonial ribbon. We need a legislature ready to not only pioneer new policies but also ready to back up the old ones, ready to maintain our roads so we don’t have to pay even more money on our cars, to renovate our ancient plumbing which has saddled us with multiple fines from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for lead infusion, and to build a renewable energy fleet of efficient and fare free public transportation. Furthermore, it is particularly important we address rising sea levels that continue to threaten the Mystic River area – coupled with heavier precipitation forecasts. We need to construct flood resilient infrastructure to protect our residents and their homes. These policies will have the most concrete impact on our residents because our residents use these things every day. To ensure that our working families can save money, get around our district safely and conveniently, and so they can enjoy the full fruits of their tax dollars, I will fight to:
- Attain more grants for public transportation so we can expand coverage, cleanliness, and efficiency. We want to incentivize residents to switch from their cars for public transit for the sake of carbon neutrality and to relieve them of the financial burden that owning a personal vehicle entails. We cannot expect to do this if our transit lacks funding and consequently fails to do its job effectively. In this respect, we also need to…
- Establish a fare-free system so that we are encouraging folks further to use our public transportation. The money working families give through taxes should not disappear in front of their eyes, it should blossom into universal projects that benefit all.
- Switch MBTA to a 100% renewable energy public bus fleet by 2030 and electrify the commuter rail system by 2035.
- Retrofit our schools with green infrastructure and establish proper ventilation requirements for health and well-being of our students and educators. Additionally, students get to learn about the climate crisis they will face in the future and the tools they will have to use to combat it.
- Finally address our ancient piping that taints our water with lead. Malden has the highest percentage of water service lines made of lead in the Boston area. When we turn the faucet on, we should be able to drink the water without worry. I will work with community leaders and establish partnerships with the EPA, the Clean Water Fund, MaldenCore, and other prominent local groups to hold discussions on the most efficient ways to replace our harmful water service lines.
- Increase Medford and Malden’s flood risk management by improving our storm drains, enforcing building codes that ensure structures are meeting minimum floodplain management standards, and nurture and expand nature-based infrastructure like rain gardens and bioswales to soak up rain fall and conduct it into sewer inlets.
An Open & Accessible Legislature
If we are to hold our representatives accountable for their votes, we need to know how they vote in the first place. In Massachusetts we have one of the least transparent government processes in the country. Constituents are consistently in the dark and do not get to see how their representatives are using the power they have been granted by them. This leads to absurdities such as when legislators will champion bills publicly and then kill them in committee to appease the public ostentatiously and then their donors behind closed doors. In addition, we have a far too unbalanced power structure in the House where the Speaker holds a firm authority to monitor and watch over votes, introduce legislation and pass rubber stamped legislation, and appoint and dismiss committee chairs. These realities are not acceptable. Our state process has to be opened up to public scrutiny so we can know the exact consequences of our votes and we must reform our legislative power structure to put more power into the hands of the Representatives so that our communities are better served.
- Make committee votes a matter of public record by publishing House and Joint Committee votes online.
- End the practice of “sending a bill to study” to encourage decisions by committees instead of procrastination.
- Publish committee reports in which the justification for forwarding or killing legislation is made. We should know why one bill or amendment might be passed and another is suppressed.
- Reduce the power of the Speaker of the House by creating a secret ballot for Representatives when they vote for the position, restoring 8-year term limits, and selecting Chairs through secret ballots on the floor.
- Institute an ample and responsible period of review for introduced bills. Representatives should read and consider proposed legislation with the weight and importance it is due. Decisions affecting thousands of people requires more than a few hours to investigate.
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