Committee Chair Jim Sperelakis called the meeting to order at 7:03 pm.
Seventeen members and fifteen guests attended.
The first order of business was to vote in Becc O’Brien as a member. Jeanne Pucci moved and David Belsky seconded that motion, and Becc was voted in unanimously.
Secretary Pat Skibbee explained that our constitution requires members to attend at least 50% of scheduled meetings in a year. She suggested that there are a number of people on our roster who have not met that standard for several years. According to the constitution, to remove these people from membership their names must be read out at one meeting and then can be voted on in the next meeting. It was agreed that Pat would write a letter to each of them explaining the situation and asking for their response.
The agenda for the meeting focused on presentations by five candidates for various offices preparatory to the November 2022 election.
First to speak was Chris Dempsey, candidate for State Auditor. He stressed his credentials and experience for the office, saying that both his parents were public school teachers, that education is a top priority for him, he has a Harvard MBA, worked under then-Governor Duval Patrick as Assistant Secretary of Transportation; also, he is very strong on government transparency, will be a “robust and aggressive” auditor, was a leader in the fight to NOT have Boston host the Olympics, and co-created an app that enables T riders to learn the exact times of the arrivals/departures of public transportation, and will be an advocate for “carbon accounting” for any contracts the state considers.
Quentin Palfrey, candidate for Attorney General, was introduced by WNDTC Vice-Chair David Belsky. He stated his priorities as preserving democracy, climate action, LGBTQ rights, education, combatting gun violence, affordable housing, health care (He is an advocate for a single-payer system.) He will be, he said, “the people’s lawyer”, and previously worked as an aide to John Tierney, Assistant Attorney General in MA leading the Health Care Division, and in the White House under Barack Obama as Senior Advisor for Jobs and Competitiveness. He has been active in voter protection for many years, and most recently served under President Biden as Deputy General Counsel for the Department of Commerce.
Virginia Leigh, candidate for Essex County Sheriff, spoke next. She characterized the proper role of the sheriff as being the steward of the inmates, responsible for their care, rehabilitation and re-entry back into society. She explained that so many inmates come out of jail in worse shape than when they went in, that they are less supported and less able to function productively in society than before their incarceration. She is bi-lingual (Spanish) and has been working with prisoners as a social worker for 12 years. “Hurt people hurt people”. She sees robust clinical support, rehabilitation not retribution, as the way to lessen recidivism and crime.
Secretary of State candidate Tanisha Sullivan of Brockton presented her background (activism in civil rights, Chief Equity Officer in a public school system). She would like to see Massachusetts be a role model for the rest of the country as a defender/promoter of democracy and voting rights, seeing herself as “Chief Democracy Officer” of the Commonwealth. She has been a corporate attorney for 20 years acting on behalf of small businesses.
The final presenting candidate was Adrianne Ramos for State Rep. Because of redistricting, our rep district was scheduled to become the 14th Essex with incumbent Christina Minicucci of North Andover as our rep. Christina recently decided not to seek another term. In her place as candidate is Adrianne, also of North Andover. Christina Eckert of Boxford, previous candidate two and four ago respectively, spoke highly of Ms. Ramos. Adrianne is a lawyer by profession and stressed that she has made this decision in a “mindful” way, that her career has included work in the Probate and Family Court in assisting immigrant children and families fleeing violence. Her priorities, which she stressed are not a complete picture because she is only a few days into the race, include teen mental health, education, and affordable housing. She will have a Republican opponent, also from North Andover.
Member Jessica Azenaro reported on the Kathy Pasquina Civic Engagement Scholarship Committee, saying that she has one application and that it is excellent, from student Alex Peterson, and he will be receiving the $1,000 scholarship.
A long, informal conversation ensued, focused mostly on the rep race and getting the necessary 150 nomination paper signatures by the May 3 deadline, as well as logistics for that campaign.