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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Thursday, February 22, 2024

Op-ed: Diversity and inclusion is on the March 5 ballot

On March 5, Massachusetts Democrats will have the opportunity to renominate U.S. President Joe Biden and elect local Democratic State, Ward and Town Committee members. Students nationwide are a vital part of the Democratic coalition, and through voting and volunteerism, Tufts University students can help elect local fair-minded, forward-looking leaders.

I’m Justin Klekota, your Democratic State Committeeman, and it’s been an honor representing the Second Middlesex District including Somerville, Medford, Cambridge and Winchester. I am the first open member of the LGBTQIA+ community to win this seat. Together, we organized dozens of phonebanks drawing hundreds of volunteers for the Biden-Harris Administration and Senate Democrats, knocked on thousands of doors and advocated successfully for climate and mail-in voting legislation that is now law.

This year, the stakes are higher. My opponent Rand Wilson is running on a divisive and discriminatory platform that aims to eliminate half of the State Democratic Party by targeting “Black, Hispanic, LGBTQ+, disabled, labor, senior, veteran, French and Portuguese speaking, and youth” members elected to the Democratic State Committee to increase diversity, including many who have served over 20 years.  

After months of attacks by Wilson, most recently in his 2023 State Democratic Convention resolution that was near-unanimously rejected in subcommittee, I feel compelled to defend my DSC colleagues and make it clear the Democratic Party must remain the “big tent” embracing diversity if we are to defeat “Make America Great Again” Republicans. 

Contrary to the claims in Mr. Wilson’s failed resolution and platform as published on Medium, every member of the DSC is democratically elected by the presidential primary ballot, at a caucus or by the DSC members; no members are “appointed.” Wilson’s claims that Diversity “add-on State Committee members are not elected from or held accountable to the constituency groups they purport to represent'” and that “they are not nominated by the Afro-American, disabled, or LGBTQ+ or other constituencies that they are purported to represent” reflect a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of diversity in our party.

People of color, LGBTQIA+ and disabled members are elected as equal partners to represent the entire party; not elected to represent only their race, orientation or disability as Wilson suggests. Wilson’s implication that African-American, LGBTQIA+ or disabled persons only be elected by members of their race, orientation or disability is discriminatory. Segregating voters by race, disability and orientation is undemocratic and contrary to our values as Democrats.  

“One person, one vote” is our core mission as Democrats: Only allowing people to vote for their race, disability or orientation diminishes everyone and fractures the Democratic coalition that made history by uniting to elect Deval Patrick, Maura Healey, Barack Obama, Biden, Harris and many others. 

Why would anyone choose this divisive platform? Wilson believes his platform benefits “young adults and a growing number of working-class voters [who] are being seduced by the far right.” Our Democratic Party deserves better.

On March 5, if you believe in Democratic Party strength through diversity and oppose discrimination and segregation, I ask for your vote. Being a long-time progressive activist in our local community, which includes Tufts, and a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, I understand the importance of diversity and inclusion; it’s about fairness and it’s our path to victory in 2024.

Respectfully Submitted, 

Justin Klekota

Democratic State Committeeman