Our first question for Chang-Diaz was why she decided to jump in. Her answer, not surprisingly, is that voters deserve to have their elected officials both represent their policy values, and uphold a high standard of conduct, accountability, and transparency. She said that the Second Suffolk is “a very progressive district,” and that she and Wilkerson probably agree on most policy issues. But, she said, voters are “ready for a change.” Wilkerson’s legal and ethical problems are well known to district residents, Chang-Diaz said, and voters who “want to be proud of their leaders” now find themselves “having to make excuses.”
I brought up the issue of crime, which has hit the Second Suffolk district particularly hard. Chang-Diaz said that the people of her district are upset and angry about the violence in their community. But the good news, she said, is that “we know how to tackle these issues,” since the strategies adopted in the 1990s worked. What is lacking is the political commitment to return to those strategies. She added that the problem is that funding both from the feds and from the state to pursue proven strategies like community policing and summer jobs programs has been deeply cut.
I asked whether crime was the biggest issue in her district. She replied that there is rarely one single “biggest” issue, but that there were four interrelated issues that seemed to be at the top of most voters’ lists: Boston public schools, public safety, affordable housing, and accessibility of health care.
Chang-Diaz has thought a lot about those issues, particularly education, since she was once a public school teacher. We asked her about the always-contentious issue of charter schools. She replied that she valued the innovations that charter schools, pilot schools, and other alternatives could bring to public education, but she believes that the formula governing the funding of charter schools needed to be refined so that it doesn’t harm public schools too much. On affordable housing, Chang-Diaz backed a statewide approach to the problem, noting that both property taxes and rent increases are driving district residents out of the neighborhoods they have lived in for years, and a concern that the middle class is becoming endangered in the city of Boston.
We asked whether Chang-Diaz was finding that district residents are aware of, and concerned about, Dianne Wilkerson’s various legal problems. She said that she’s found that people are even more aware than she had expected, and that many are ready for a change. She added that, while many are of the view that everyone makes mistakes and deserves a second chance, Wilkerson has had more than her share of second chances.
We also asked about the logistics of a sticker campaign. Chang-Diaz noted that she has hired Michael Albano, one of the few operatives with experience running a sticker campaign (Albano ran the only successful sticker campaign for Senate in recent history). She said that a sticker campaign entails an unusually large “voter education” effort, which she believes helps her, since there’s more to voting than just checking a box – the voter has to make an affirmative election of whose name to write in, or which sticker to affix to the ballot. It’ll be interesting to see the extent to which that dynamic affects the race.
Wrapping up, Chang-Diaz said that she deeply loves the district that she hopes to serve in the State House, and promised that no legislator will be working harder on behalf of his or her constituents than she will.
I haven’t seen any recent polling on this race, so I don’t have a good sense of how things are going. Last I heard, which was several weeks ago, Chang-Diaz’s internal polling showed her closing in on, but not yet catching, Wilkerson. Anyone out there living in or near the district have a sense of how things are going now? And are there any further rumors about yet another candidate jumping in?
…one assumes Diaz’s people will read your post, can someone answer this question?
(Sorry for not posting the answer earlier.) They’ve talked on several occasions with the Boston Elections Department, who will do the first cut on which votes go to whom. The standard is, predictably, “the intent of the voter.” But the Department has refused to give specific answers to what will and will not count.
In other words, they know they may have a hanging chad situation, and they specifically want to ENCOURAGE it by not making the process transparent?
It just defies all reason. What am I missing here? If Wilkerson is up by 60 votes, and there are 90 variations of mispellings like Somia Diaz or Samyia Diaz that are simply up to an elections official…doesn’t this end up in a disaster?
Am I a bad person for hoping that this happens?