I am running for the 23rd Middlesex House seat in the Democratic Primary on February 5th and would be honored to represent Arlington and West Medford in the State Legislature.
I want to serve in the State Legislature to continue work I’ve been doing most of my career – helping children and families – especially those in great need. For the past decade I have led an effort to create private, non-tuition driven schools for low-income young people in urban communities across the country, and in Arlington my colleagues and I on the School Committee have worked within the confines of our budget to ensure that all students receive an excellent education.
I spent three years as a Jesuit International Volunteer working with street children in Tacna, Peru. Despite their poverty, the people of Peru’s slums had a spirit that inspires and humbles me to this day. The experience of working with the poor in Peru and with young people from low-income families across the United States will inform the decisions I make as a member of the State Legislature should I be elected.
Because my professional career has been spent creating student centered schools and because I believe that School Committee members have to make decisions based on what is best for young people, I ran for the Arlington School Committee in 2003. I was elected that year and re-elected in 2006.
During my term as Chair of the Arlington School Committee (2005-06), we re-prioritized our budget to fund an extensive reading program, math support teachers, and more counseling. We addressed serious issues in our English Language Learner and Special Education programs, set high expectations for all students, took steps to better define what students need to know in the 21st century, and created a process that keeps the public informed of the progress the district makes each year on approved goals. In 2005, I chaired a successful override campaign, working with diverse groups throughout the town to pass the largest operating override in the Commonwealth that year. The override prevented catastrophic cuts to town and school services.
I think it’s time for an honest conversation in the State Legislature about revenue. The House of Representatives has been less supportive than the State Senate of proposals to generate additional revenue for the state, including two provisions of the Municipal Partnership Act and legislation that would close several corporate tax loopholes. It is absolutely critical that our representative to the State House of Representatives be someone who understands the challenges we face in Arlington and West Medford, has the skills to advocate on our behalf, and is willing to work with others across the state to address serious issues.
Here are a few priorities:
1. It is time to pass the rest of the Municipal Partnership Act, close corporate tax loopholes, and require combined reoporting by corporations so that tax revenue does not leave our state.
2. While the state’s new healthcare law holds great promise, we must find ways to cover those who are still uninsured and assist the many families who struggle to pay medical bills.
3. The Circuit Breaker Law must be extended to help all citizens on fixed incomes.
4. With nearly 200,000 young professionals leaving Massachusetts in the past seven years for more affordable states, we have to build a state that keeps our best resources, our people, here.
5. Increased job training and re-training is needed to help our citizens compete in the 21st century.
6. The state must appropriately fund environmental programs in order to maintain our parks, protect our water quality, and enforce laws designed to keep us safe.
If you’d like to get involved, please visit www.jeffthielman.com. And if you have ideas or suggestion, please send them along.
I look forward to the campaign.