Why we’re with Joe

Kennedy 'shows up for Massachusetts'

OPEN A NEWSPAPER today, and you’ll find feverish headlines about Democratic primaries. You’ll hear political pundits discuss who should drop out or who shouldn’t run or where resources would be better spent.

But primaries are not about the punditry; they’re about the people. People, who deserve candidates unafraid to have their ideas tested. People, who benefit from choice and vigorous debate. People, who ultimately are the ones to say whether an elected official has earned the right to serve. Primaries energize and engage the electorate — they’re good for our party and good for our democracy.

An upcoming Senate primary in Massachusetts between Sen. Ed Markey and Congressman Joe Kennedy III has set off this debate locally. Over four terms, Joe has built an impressive record for the people of this Commonwealth. He’s smart, capable, and hard working. We are excited that he appears poised to jump in. When he does, we’re with him.

As mayors, our highest priority when it comes to partners in Congress is a leader who shows up. And Joe shows up for Massachusetts. His first initiative in office was the launch of Tour 34, open office hours where he personally meets with constituents in all 34 cities and towns in his district.

His first speech in the House of Representatives was made in honor of Dr. Irving Fradkin, a 92-year-old education advocate from Fall River. His first major congressional hearing was used to shine a light on the plight of former nuclear workers in Attleboro, stricken with cancer and forgotten by the government they had served; Joe’s advocacy helped secure over $25 million in additional benefits. His first pieces of legislation focused on manufacturing and vocational schools, using the model of Massachusetts to shape national economic policy.

On top of his congressional duties, he has helped lead the state’s science, technology, education and mathematics (STEM) education efforts for six years. Under both Governors Deval Patrick and Charlie Baker, Joe traveled to every corner of the state to fight for education equity. He has stood alongside local advocates here in the Commonwealth to ensure equality for LGBTQIA+ citizens, expand access to reproductive care, and defend voting rights. And few have worked more tirelessly, thoughtfully, and diligently to give voice to those suffering from mental illness and substance use disorder throughout Massachusetts.

He shows up in our fire houses, our community health centers, our manufacturing floors and our schools. He listens to our residents and employers. He answers our telephone calls and responds to our emails. He is laser focused on us.

It’s fitting that, when Joe was chosen by the Democratic Party to respond to President Trump’s 2018 State of the Union address, he eschewed the traditional Washington setting and stood proudly in one of our Gateway Cities, surrounded by the local community at Diman Regional Voc-Tech.

The Fall River Herald News said it best: “Trump will stand behind the podium. Kennedy will stand in the fire, among the children of working people, among the children of immigrants, among the children of the poor, in a government-run school that gives out education without thought to wealth, or social class, or color.”

 As mayors we know how much we need leaders who will stand in the fire. We know how much presence counts. There is a reason the most recent polling has Joe up by double digits. Massachusetts voters see him, know him, and trust him.

These are undoubtedly trying political times for most of us. Donald Trump is a threat to nearly everything Massachusetts stands for, and we must be united in our efforts to stop the chaos and destruction he has wrought.

But the truth is, we need leaders who know how to fight more than just one man; we need leaders willing to change the system and heal the divides that gave us President Trump in the first place. Joe Kennedy will take on the system that is leaving too many communities across Massachusetts without enough affordable housing, public education dollars, and mental health beds. It’s the system failing to keep dangerous guns off our street, to create jobs that pay enough to take care of a family, and to protect the cities and towns whose infrastructure is already under siege from climate change.

No one would look at the results in Washington and say it’s reflecting the will of the people of Massachusetts. Railing against inertia in our federal government while simultaneously criticizing anyone who dares to consider running against the status quo isn’t good for our party or our country. We need a change. And that starts with leaders who show up in our communities, listen to our families, and carry their fight to Congress.

Meet the Author

Meet the Author

We believe in Joe Kennedy’s leadership and endorse him for the US Senate.

Kim Driscoll is mayor of Salem. Ruthanne Fuller is mayor of Newton.