Pennsylvania GOP primary that could shape control of the Senate
To give the public a clearer view of three candidates seeking the 4th Middlesex state Senate seat, YourArlington asked them some basic questions. Here are the responses from Cindy Friedman. Nearly all of the same questions were asked of Mary Ann Stewart, whose responses have been published, and Rep. Sean Garballey, whose answers have been requested.
SENATE RACE: Candidate Q & A
The 64-year-old Arlington resident best known for nine years as chief aide to Sen. Ken Donnelly aims to occupy the seat he held following his death in April.
Asked to name her top priority if the state had an unlimited budget, she answered in a way that illustrates her eagerness to serve: "Why limit it to just one?"
She would seek funding for several priorities. "[M]ost state investments are interconnected, so a single-budget investment is not going to fix all of our problems. Therefore, if the state had an unlimited budget, my top priorities would include:
"* Full funding for our public education system, from prekindergarten and early childhood education to community college and higher education;
"* Enough funds to ensure access to affordable and quality healthcare for all of our residents, especially those with a mental illness or substance-use disorder; and
"* Greater investments in transportation and infrastructure expansion and maintenance, workforce training and affordable housing."
She summed up these goals this way: "Our residents deserve excellent public schools, access to affordable health care, a transportation system that works for them, high-quality jobs that lead to greater economic security and safe places to live, work and raise their families."
Noting that the state has limited funds, she was asked what her top priority would be and why?
Again, choosing one is tough. "It is difficult to pick one budget priority since so many important issues require greater investment, especially in light of the federal government's recent proposals to cut funding for education, healthcare, the environment and the social 'safety net' (i.e., access to food, stable housing and workforce training).
"However, if I had to pick a top budget priority, I would continue to focus on economic inequality and investing in our workers first. Our growing wage gap leaves many in our communities behind. All workers must have an opportunity to earn a living wage in order to care for themselves and their families, and our state budget must reflect this priority."
Asked about her position on the so-called "millionaire's tax," Friedman stated it clearly:
"I strongly support the Fair Share Amendment to our state Constitution, because it would create a more equitable tax system and generate an estimated $2 billion per year for investments in our education and transportation systems. I believe it's very reasonable to ask that the highest earners in our Commonwealth who make more than $1 million per year pay their fair share of taxes."
Asked to tell the 4th Middlesex residents who she is and why they should vote for you, she combined her response with the next query: What is your current occupation and previous experience showing how you are qualified to succeed in the Senate seat?
"I have been Sen. Ken Donnelly's chief of staff since he was elected senator nine years ago. Because of the rawness and personal impact of this loss, the idea of jumping so quickly into a contest to replace Ken was daunting.
"Ultimately, I chose to run because of my intense commitment to our shared vision and values, and to the work Ken allowed me to participate in shaping.
"My background as a public school teacher, as a manager in the high-tech industry, as a community activist and parent and especially as Ken's chief of staff has prepared me to hit the ground running with an understanding of the issues that matter most to Massachusetts, and the experience to make a difference in the Senate.
"I understand the needs of the people of the 4th Middlesex District and have answered their questions and helped resolve their problems for over nine years."
She emphasized the personal connection.
"I worked side by side with Ken to secure funding for district schools and local governments and increase access to transportation.
"I worked with Ken to draft and champion legislation to protect workers and their families and ensure a living-wage and affordable benefits; to provide homeless children with early access to shelter; to increase access to services for and reduce the criminalization of those suffering from severe and debilitating mental-illness and substance-use disorders; to reform our criminal justice system; and to increase the availability of workforce training to meet the needs of businesses and increase the economic stability of our residents."
She summed up: "As state senator, I will continue and expand the important work that we have been doing the past nine years. My top three priorities will be:
"1.) Wage inequality and economic opportunity for all;
"2.) Health care, with a special focus on mental health and the intersection of mental illness and our criminal justice system; and
"3.) Transportation issues, especially as it relates to housing, the environment and access to jobs."
May 19, 2017: Friedman's signatures accepted, placing her on ballot
May 5, 2017: Donnelly family endorses Friedman for state Senate
April 24, 2017: Donnelly's longtime chief of staff announces candidacy
This news summary was published Sunday, May 28, 2017.
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