Democratic special election candidates greet students
Published: Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 02:09
Four candidates for the Massachusetts’ fifth congressional district special election assembled in the Sophia Gordon Hall Multipurpose Room last night to meet the Tufts community and discuss their election platforms in an event sponsored by Tufts Democrats.
Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, Massachusetts State Senator Will Brownsberger (D-Belmont), Massachusetts State Senator Katherine Clark (D-Melrose) as well as Massachusetts Representative Carl Sciortino (D-Medford) greeted Tufts community members and then delivered addresses on their plans for the contested role.
Each candidate is vying for former Democratic Congressman Ed Markey’s position in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Markey resigned this past June following 37 years of service and since then has been serving in the United States Senate.
The Democratic primary will be held on Oct.15 and will be followed by the general election on Dec. 10.
Jacob Wessel, president of Tufts Democrats, explained that his organization sponsored the event in the hopes of generating enthusiasm for the coming congressional election and allowing students to make the best informed choice as possible about which of the candidates to support.
“We are encouraging people to get involved in all of the campaigns,” Wessel, a senior, said. “One of these people will be our Congressperson for quite some time, so it’s important to get students into it.”
Koutoujian spoke first at last night’s event. He described how his pursuits in law and criminal prosecution have led him to feel strongly about the issues he is addressing as a candidate, including gun control, education and women’s reproductive and working rights.
“I believe women should be entitled to equal pay for equal work,” Koutoujian said. “This is not a campaign issue. This is something I’ve been fighting for for decades.”
Koutoujian proposed several ways to support the middle class, saying this would contribute greatly to a national economic turnaround. He said he would do so, in part, by countering the Supreme Court’s decision to allow corporations to make unlimited political expenditures.
“I am completely against ‘[Federal Election Commission] vs. Citizens United,” Koutoujian said. “The Constitution says ‘We the People,’ not ‘We the Corporations.’ We ought to pass an amendment to abolish this ruling. Trickle-down economics have not worked in this country.”
Brownsberger followed by describing his aspirations for the United States economy and how he would work to fulfill them by attending to issues such as education, immigration and climate change.
“As I come into the prospect of running for Congress, economic issues are at the top of the list,” Brownsberger said. “The transformation we’re going to see over the next few years ... I think it’s going to be great. There’s a federal role in driving that and I want to be a part of it.”
Brownsberger also vowed to act against criminalization of certain minor offenses, such as the possession of marijuana, due to the negative social repercussions of current federal policies.
“We should reduce the number of things people can get in trouble for,” he said. “Starting with marijuana — let’s legalize that, let’s get that over with.”
Clark spoke of her excitement to once again be involved in a political campaign, an experience she went through just three years ago when running for the State Senate. She said that the nation’s current political climate made her all the more determined to seek higher office.
“When we see extremist Republicans willing to assure that our economy is hindered, that we aren’t extending affordable health care to 30 million people ... this is exactly what we need to stand up against,” she said.
Clark spoke of her ambitions to introduce stricter gun control laws and widespread educational reform to Congress. She also cited the many environmental and economic benefits of combating climate change, something which has been a critical feature of her campaign.
“It’s something which will preserve our planet,” Clark said. “It’s good for protecting public health, economy and agriculture, and it’s good for creating jobs right here.”
The final candidate to speak was Sciortino (LA ‘00). He spoke in depth about his experiences at Tufts and how his involvement with on-campus student organizations had inspired him to enter a career in politics.
“I was originally a biology major ... and did not expect to become involved in politics,” Sciortino said. “But my time here in active citizenship meant a lot to me.”
He acknowledged that he has faced a great deal of opposition as a political figure, but said that this has only heightened his determination to succeed.
“It’s about taking on some of the toughest fights without shame, without embarrassment and figuring out a really good campaign to run,” he said.
Following the event, several of the candidates reflected positively on the assembly.