It is not a pipe dream. All around us, models of community based projects that make our lives better are popping up. Some, like community health centers, have been around for decades. Community development corporations are building affordable housing with non-toxic siding and photovoltaics on the roof. Ex-prisoners are joining together to find ways to become productive members of society. In the Regional Environmental Council of Central Massachusetts (REC), which I have led as Board President, we have created youth jobs that develop leaders, cooperative entrepreneurs, and organic farmers, giving them the skills to work in the greenest of green jobs. We coordinate a collaborative that has all but eliminated lead poisoning in Worcester.
The state should favor and foster community based projects like these, in directing funding in general and in the implementation of forward-looking legislation like the Green Communities Act. As a legislator, I will be a fierce advocate for the grassroots-up rather than the top down approach to solving our problems.
I am honored to have received endorsements from Mass Alliance, Mass Nurses Association, Mass Teacher’s Association, SEIU 1199, Clean Water Action, Neighbor to Neighbor, Sierra Club, National Association of Social Workers, Mass NOW, and Worcester’s Mayor Joe O’Brien.
A little about me and my background: I have been an activist for social justice since I was a teenager. My whole professional career has been in health care, first as a nurse’s aide, then a registered nurse, and now as a chiropractor and small business owner. My husband, David Coyne, and I have played many roles in the civic, religious, and political life of the City of Worcester and Massachusetts as a whole. We have lived in Worcester for 21 years, and every one of those years I have worked on one or more political campaigns for a progressive candidate. Candidates I am proud to have helped to elect include Congressman Jim McGovern, Governor Deval Patrick, Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray (ever since he first ran for City Council), Senator Harriette Chandler, former Senator Ed Augustus, President Barak Obama, and Worcester Mayor Joe O’Brien. Of course I have worked on a few losing campaigns along the way, but the track record of winners has shown me how progressives can win.
We had been in Worcester for barely a year when five Prop 2½ override initiatives were placed on the Worcester ballot. We joined a group of citizen activists who teamed up with a couple of nonprofit organizations to fight for the initiative for education funding. It was the largest 2½ override in the history of Massachusetts, and it passed, while the other four, that did not have grassroots organizations, went down to defeat.
In 2000, when the nurses at Worcester’s St. Vincent Hospital went on strike over the dangerous practice of mandatory overtime, I initiated and led a community network to support the ultimately victorious strike effort.
I was one of the local advocates building support for marriage equality. We organized meetings with legislators, wrote letters to the editor, and spoke out in public forums. We gathered at City Hall on the day the ruling for marriage equality took effect, cheering on the couples who were getting licences and keeping protesters at bay.
My grassroots environmental justice activism, largely in leadership of REC, has included advocating for legislation to address climate change and for safe alternatives to toxic chemicals, which is a key priority not only to the environmental movement but also to the labor movement.
Last year I was honored by the Worcester Democratic City Committee as Woman of the Year. Their big mistake was giving me a chance to speak! I called on my fellow Democrats to stand up for ethical conduct and to promote open and accountable government.
In our campaign we’ve been out knocking on doors, meeting neighbors, and listening to their concerns. On doorsteps and in our neighborhoods, I have spoken with many voters about the issues that touch their lives and impact their hopes for the future. I cherish these conversations and have learned a lot from them. When I hear anger and cynicism about government (which happens frequently), I am careful to try to hear the genuine concern that runs under the negative reaction. I have found that my vision of community-based solutions and a culture of respect resonates with many people who may not share my political framework.
My values and community vision have shaped the way we conduct this race. I am thrilled that we’ve gotten the trust and support of so many volunteers and organizations to enable us to run the kind of grassroots campaign that can win, and can translate into an organization that truly represents the voices, values and ideas of the community. I truly believe that this open communication is a key to good governance and I look forward to bringing that energy and ethic to work with me every day at the State House.
I look forward to answering your questions, getting your ideas, and working together to serve Worcester and Paxton as a progressive Democratic State Representative.