It was our first in-person meeting since Covid hit – no Zoom - all masked. Thirteen members and five guests met for business and holiday spirit at the Town Hall, 491 Main Street. Guests were Christina Minicucci, 14th Essex District Rep, who is to be our new State Rep after the November 2022 elections (the rep district was changed due to 2020 census results); Rick Parker, West Newbury Select Board; Laurie Heyman; Christina Eckert; LaNita (Ann) Dykes.
Chair Jim Sperelakis and several members brought seasonal snacks laid out a la buffet style.
Jim opened the meeting by acknowledging the joy of seeing everyone (or parts of everyone) in person. He then introduced State Rep Christina Minicucci, asking her to lay out her legislative priorities. She explained that she lives in North Andover, had worked on many campaigns but had not at all considered running herself until friends encouraged her. She stated her strengths are connecting people with resources and problem solving, with strong interests in education, environmental protection, climate, reproductive rights and “gas safety” (given the natural gas line explosions the took place in Lawrence just after her election), and the CSO (combined sewage overflows) into the Merrimack River. As State Rep for Lawrence, Methuen and part of Haverhill, 55% of her current district population is “gateway cities”. That will change markedly after September.
Jim asked her about the disbursement of ARRA funds to cities and town and organizations, monies from the federal government. She explained her action was to poll town/city managers about their needs and to work with other Reps and with State Senators. She noted that our current State Rep Lenny Mirra put in no requests. She also noted that Senator Bruce Tarr was “great” in this process.
Member Joe Heyman asked Christina to explain the redistricting process. She offered that the process took many, many hours and much compromise, but that finally a plan was agreed upon, with Lenny Mirra’s acquiescence. However, in the end he was the only Rep to vote “no." Rick Parker asked on what committees she serves: Public Safety and Homeland Security, Ways and Means, and Municipalities. He encouraged her to get on the Transportation Committee. She stated she has a very serious interest in that area, but the Reps get to be on three committees.
The Chair closed this portion of the meeting by asking Rep Minicucci what we could do to help her prior to the election. She listed the need for campaign volunteers, postcard writing, hosting “meet and greets”, funding, offering information on how regional school districts work, and letting her know “what is on our radar”. Her website is “Christina4Rep.com”.
Jim then introduced Ann (LaNita) Dykes, Newburyport, who ran the new mayor Sean Reardon’s campaign. She is now running Senator Diana DiZaglio’s State Auditor campaign; website: DianaforMass.com. Needs include funding as the top priority; further, she has to obtain 5,000 signatures/15% of the convention delegates to get on the ballot. The convention this year will be hybrid. Diana has one opponent thus far, Chris Dempsey from Boston.
Member Jessica Azenaro presented an update on the Kathy Pasquina Civic Engagement Scholarship. She reported that last year apparently due to Covid we had only one applicant despite guidance counselors encouraging students to apply. This year with school back in-person we hope for more. Jessica said she will need essay readers in the spring to vet the applications.
Jim gave the Treasurer’s report on behalf of the absent Rob Phillips: current balance $1,269.24. Donations from members are encouraged! The WNDTC share of proceeds from the 3T & 2 C summer brew event were $593.36. It was moved, seconded and vote unanimously to approve the expenditure of $63.75 to reimburse David Belsky for expenses related to the website, and to extend that approval for a two-year period, cost not to exceed $100 per year. Jim extended kudos to David for his excellent work on the site. David said submissions for the site can be sent to him at wnbydems(at)gmail.com.
End of meeting discussion main points were the fact that Governor Baker will not run again. Democratic possibilities mentioned were Attorney General Maura Healey and Quentin Palfrey. The Convention this year will be held at the DCU Center is Worcester on June 3-4. The time window to hold the annual caucus to elect delegates in February 4 – March 17. Guest Rick Parker expressed serious concern about the national effort by Republicans to get elected to local boards and to become election officials. This view was backed strongly by Barry Fogel.
The meeting adjourned at 8:35 pm.
The West Newbury Democratic Town Committee shares the outrage, revulsion, and grief over the killing of George Floyd by law enforcement officers recently in Minneapolis. This loss and the loss of so many others before Mr. Floyd are a symptom of America’s deep and long-standing structural racism—impacting equal access to justice, healthcare, education, housing, and economic opportunity. We call on all Americans to exercise your rights through peaceful demonstration and a commitment to vote for candidates who will effect systemic change. By actively participating in democracy, we can ensure that our federal, state, and local leadership share and exercise the principles of true justice.
We urge all police departments to enthusiastically embrace the principles identified in the final report of President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, issued in 2015 and supported by the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association. We also urge all departments to implement the eight actions for reducing violence against civilians identified by Campaign Zero. These actions have been proven to directly reduce incidents of violence against civilians while also reducing assaults on police officers. The #8cantwait policies are within the purview of most departments to implement quickly and without legislative or executive action.
Resources you can use to learn more and take action:
West Newbury Democratic Town Committee
June 5, 2020