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July 29, 2005

Pat Jehlen on health care, education, and transportation

A little while back, we sent a brief questionnaire to the four Democratic candidates for the vacant Second Middlesex Senate seat.  Pat Jehlen and Joe Mackey promised they would respond; no word so far from Paul Casey or Michael Callahan. 

Today we received Pat Jehlen's responses, and we are pleased to present them below.

But first, a reminder: the primary for this election is on August 30.  The primary is critically important, as it will determine which of the four Democrats listed above gets to beat take on the lone Republican in the race, Somerville alderman Bill White, in the Sept. 27 general election.  However, many residents of the district will likely be on their summer vacations on August 30.  If you will be out of town, be sure to secure an absentee ballot before you go.  (Not sure if you're in the district?  This site will tell you.)  Turnout is everything in special elections, so make sure you vote for your candidate!

Read on for Rep. Jehlen's answers...

Health care: do you support the Health Access and Affordability Act, which would move toward universal health insurance through a combination of employer mandates and expanding MassHealth, and would be funded by an increase in the tobacco tax along with other sources?  Other options on the table include Governor Romney’s individual mandate – would you support that approach?  Would you go even further than any of these proposals, and if so, how?

Just this week I talked to a woman who works in an insurance company.  She said individuals and small businesses are dropping their policies rapidly.  It’s just not affordable.  But the increase in uninsured people leads to poorer health as people defer treatment, and to higher costs as they use uncompensated care.

The Health Access and Affordability Act is the best of the incremental solutions, and I strongly support it.  It has the kind of organizational support that gives it a chance to pass and expand coverage.

I support expanding MassHealth and restoring benefits such as dental care. I am the lead sponsor of a bill to extend benefits to the elderly and disabled.

I certainly oppose the Governor's proposal to penalize those who cannot afford the exorbitant price of health insurance; his plan creates a lot more bureaucracy without addressing the real problems.

I have been a long time supporter of single payer universal healthcare, as proposed in the Mass. Health Care Trust bill.  Until care is truly universal, and paid for by broadly based, progressive taxes, we will continue to have people denied basic care that they need and deserve and our system will be unfair and inefficient. 

Finally, I support the constitutional amendment which would make access to affordable health care a constitutional, enforceable right.   If passed, this amendment would increase pressure on the legislature to adopt a comprehensive solution.

Education: do you see a way to continue to encourage the innovation that charter schools can bring without hampering the necessary process of improving the public schools?

My first commitment in public office has always been and will always be to adequate and equitable funding for public schools. The current charter school funding formula drains scarce resources away from our public schools. Until we come up with a formula that doesn’t unfairly penalize the children in district public schools, I will support (and have voted for) a cap of the creation of new charter schools.

The current Board of Education is too uncritical of the charter school experiment, and too unwilling to require evidence that there is real innovation and that it is shared with other public schools.

There are, however, ways to encourage innovation within the public schools. When I was a member of the Somerville School Committee, I started an alternative education program, within the school system, that is still going strong 20 years later.  Since then, Somerville has started a two-way bilingual program, UNIDOS.

Transportation: do you support extending the Green Line to Tufts?  To West Medford?  And what can the state do to avoid the kinds of mishaps and cost overruns in the Green Line extension that have plagued the Big Dig?

I am a strong supporter of the Green Line. I got money into the Transportation Bond Bill for the Green Line extension. This improvement in transportation will reduce traffic and reduce air pollution.

Where should the stops be and where should it end?  That’s still up for discussion.  I have been listening to the concerns of the folks in West Medford recently, who have differing views about the Green Line. I think we can have a solution that works for West Medford. This is a determination that needs to be made in collaboration with the community. As a State Senator, I will make sure that the State works closely with the affected communities.

In answer to the second question, I think that we need to stand strong against corruption and cronyism in the bidding process. Citizen involvement is important to safeguarding a fair and efficient process.

Anything else you’d care to add?

I am running for State Senate because I believe we need a voice for funding for our schools and health care for all. We need a Senator we can trust to always stand up for a woman’s right to choose and the rights of gay and lesbian couples to marry.  I have 15 years of experience in the State House as a progressive legislator with an excellent record. I would love to have your support in bringing my principled leadership style to the State Senate.

Posted by David at 10:29 AM in Massachusetts | Permalink


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I hope no one minds my self-centered updates on this race, but I wanted to add that my street got canvassed by Jehlen volunteers this week. This follows a personal call from Pat Jehlen and a previous call from the campaign along with e-mails. I also was polled a few days ago by an unidentified campaign.

I got a mailing from Mackey yesterday and one from Casey a long time ago, and one professional call that people here said was probably a non-volunteer canvasser for one of the other campaigns. I'm a registered Democrat who votes religiously so if this is any indication of the ground game one month before the primary, Pat Jehlen is kicking every other candidate's ass to the curb, at least in Somerville.

I'm almost worried that they're reaching the saturation point, because I've identified myself as a definite voter a few times already but we still keep hearing from them. For the sake of the volunteers, I hope the database gets updated soon. It's pretty unpleasant to recanvass someone who's already given you a definite answer one way or another and who is not considerate.

Posted by: Brittain33 | Jul 29, 2005 10:38:57 AM

I hope no one minds my self-centered updates on this race

Not at all! To the contrary, I'd love to hear more about these kinds of experiences from district residents. This race is not being heavily covered by the press, so less formal channels are the best way for everyone to keep tabs on what's going on.

Posted by: David | Jul 29, 2005 10:45:59 AM

so, where does jehlen stand on the green line to west medford?

Posted by: the troll | Jul 29, 2005 4:36:28 PM

where does jehlen stand on the green line to west medford?

Straddling both tracks, clearly.

Posted by: Brittain33 | Jul 29, 2005 8:15:47 PM

In response to Brittain33:

I did some phone banking for Pat Jehlen about two weeks ago. I called on behalf of MassEquality, one of the largest Massachusetts group aiming to maintain gay marriage in the state. It appears that Pat Jehlen is the strongest candidate among the four, but the Republican candidate actually is her stiffest competition, and it is a hotly contested seat. In terms of the gay marriage question, the seat is a vacancy due to the death of the previous holder, who was pro-gay-marriage. If Pat doesn't win, we risk losing that seat and it makes it more difficult to turn down the Amendment at the next constitutional convention that threatens to end gay marriage.

So this is a really big deal from that aspect, as well as all the other aspects listed above (education, health, etc.). I'm sorry if I was one of those people that called you... :-P But I'm really glad to see that forces are mobilizing and that people are extremely passionate about this race. What is likely happening is that you're getting visited and called by numerous different organizations because so many are weighing in on her side. That's a really good sign, but it does lead to repetition of canvassing. I guess that's the nature of politics in the U.S.; everybody has their own agenda, and they just go it alone.

Posted by: Russell | Jul 30, 2005 11:55:29 AM

So Pat jehelan is just a body for one vote?

Posted by: the troll | Aug 1, 2005 11:09:44 AM

No, she's not just a body for one vote. Russell spoke primarily about one issue (gay marriage), but he also gave passing mention to education and health care, which are two of her strongest areas of concern, and she goes into her position on each at length above.

As for the green line in W. Medford issue - from what I understand she supports it, but she's not the type to unilaterally ram it down the throats of the residents. She'd rather work with people to come to a reasonable solution that's acceptable to all parties involved.

Posted by: eury13 | Aug 1, 2005 11:55:08 AM

Hmmm, "reasonable solution acceptable to all parties"
That doesn't work here. Either she favors it extending beyond Tufts to West medford or she does not. Either way she will piss one side off. Is she being Kerryesque. Commit Pat, one way or the other.
This is oner reason she will not get strong numbers in most parts of Medford. She also will run weak in Winchester and Woburn. As for Somerville, Mackey is chipping awsy.
That's not saying Jehelen won't win. She may, but I do not see her as a strong legislor or politician. This green line extension shows weakness.
And don't give me this "she stood up to Finneran" crap.

Posted by: the troll | Aug 1, 2005 12:25:55 PM

The West Medford extension is not a zero-sum game. Lots of people in West Medford want the T extension, some people are concerned about the effect on traffic and roads there. So if the legislature comes up with a way to extend the T while meeting some of the concerns about traffic, which seem to have some weight to them, things will roll forward and no one's going to be permanently pissed off. This is well within the realm of the possible.

I would be surprised if she were to present a full-fledged solution to a complicated problem like this. It's enough for her to say that she disagrees with kneejerk rejection of the extension while acknowledging there are issues to be worked out before it can go forward. The West Medford issue is relatively new. No one was talking about it before the Green Line moved to the front burner. What's wrong with this approach?

Posted by: Brittain33 | Aug 1, 2005 1:39:49 PM

The only thing complicated about it is the fact that some oppose it, and some want it. Long time medford residents, (those most likly to vote) do not want it. Young professionals currently living there want it. These tend to be progrssive types who for the most part only vote, if they do, in general elections.

Posted by: the trool | Aug 2, 2005 1:12:22 PM

Long time medford residents, (those most likly to vote) do not want it.

So if this is important to the race, have the other candidates come out against extending it to West Medford in order to win those votes?

Posted by: Brittain33 | Aug 2, 2005 3:14:51 PM

I don't know about others. As for this being new issue this is an issue ripe for a campaign such as thisd. Issues like this are what drive m,ost local elections.
But we are talking about Jehlen and why she won't take a position on it. She wants to appeal to progressives who primarily live in Somerville and Hillside section of Medford. Some are in west medford. Progressives want extension for themselves but also for enviornmental reasons. (even though no effect on enviornment)
So a good progressive like Jehlen will not come out in this election and piss off her base who she needs to get off their ass in August and vote ( not easy). She also needs more then a handful of votes in west medford and winchester if she is going to win. They do not want extension. So she is playing game. I'm sure other candidates have similiar game going.

Posted by: the troll | Aug 3, 2005 10:55:30 AM

"I would be surprised if she were to present a full-fledged solution to a complicated problem like this."

Wow, you really think she is great Britaan. Unless you are in her circle.

Posted by: the troll | Aug 3, 2005 10:59:56 AM

I'm not in her circle, but I've been open about supporting her, but what the hell is your point about my comment? I would have said the same about any of the four candidates, the same as you've said "any good candidate" wouldn't answer a question or put info on his web site if he didn't have to.

Now I think you are trolling.

We don't know what Pat Jehlen's volunteers are telling people in West Medford about the Green Line or about other issues. There is a progressive message that gets young professionals off their asses and into the booths, we saw that in the Sciortino and Schofield races, particularly in the latter where you predicted people wouldn't vote for him and they showed up. It doesn't live or die on the Green Line.

People like this are not getting involved in alderman races but they are tuning into special elections. Jehlen's volunteers find these people and talk about their candidate in terms they understand. We'll see on Election Day how successful it is, but I can tell you from experience that it's not as hard as you think to energize young voters for state primaries any more.

Posted by: Brittain33 | Aug 3, 2005 12:08:55 PM

touchy touchy touchy
Jehlen strikes me as very weak and not someone who will be able to "bring home the bacon" which is more important to urban areas like somerville and medford then the same ole litmus test democratic issues.
P.s. do not confuse sciortino's victory with this race.
Plus, my sources tell me he could be in trouble if right candidate runs against him. Some are considering.

Posted by: the troll | Aug 3, 2005 12:35:47 PM

Also, point about your comment is that every candidate says what she says, much like deval patrick, yet somehow, whenb she says it you think it is great. I don't see what makes her great. She has no recoird of working "with people". By that I mean the people who can actually do something for the district, not her own personal progressive agenda.

Posted by: the troll | Aug 3, 2005 12:38:44 PM

Jehlen strikes me as very weak and not someone who will be able to "bring home the bacon" which is more important to urban areas like somerville and medford then the same ole litmus test democratic issues.
P.s. do not confuse sciortino's victory with this race.
Plus, my sources tell me he could be in trouble if right candidate runs against him. Some are considering.

I don't think either of these points is unreasonable. I may disagree, but I don't think they're unreasonable. You're taking what I said and running with a whole lot of other things on your mind that have nothing to do with me.

I'm voting for Pat Jehlen for certain reasons. I defended her comments on the Green Line extension because I thought you were wrong to call her out on the basis you did, a few weeks after telling us that any candidate who volunteers a position on a controversy is stupid. You're taking that and turning it into me being won over by her comment on the Green Line extension or thinking she can do no wrong. Well, no, I know you reduce a lot of people to one-note wonders or labels but you don't know me or the reason why I'm voting for her. That's deliberate on my part.

I'm not touchy, but if you're going to shift the conversation from Pat Jehlen to me with a personal comment like "Wow, you really think she is great Britaan" the conversation is going to get personal. I don't want to waste my time with that, and neither should you.

Posted by: Brittain33 | Aug 3, 2005 2:48:43 PM

Touchy touchy touv\chy
Wjhat makes Jehlen soo great in your mind? I just don't see it. That is all.
I poijnt out flaws and you jump on me saying I changed the subject. You brought up Jehlen as a good candidate and someone to vote for. You brought up sciortino's victory anmd made the comparison.
I stand by my comments. She is a weak state representative and would be a weak state senator. Regardless of how many headlines she grabs.

Posted by: the troll | Aug 3, 2005 2:57:02 PM

P.S. i have to check my notes...lol. But volunteering a controversial position when it is not a majo\r campaign issue and taking a stand on an important relevant issue are different. I assume I meant the latter in this case.
Like the dems have litmus test issues, so do districts and this is one of them.

Good to know you arew trying to remmebr the brilliant points I have made over the past several months. Thanks for your continues support Britaan.

Posted by: the troll | Aug 3, 2005 3:00:17 PM

Always a pleasure.

Posted by: Brittain33 | Aug 3, 2005 3:29:20 PM

It is unfortunate to hear so many individuals and small businesses are dropping health insurance policies. Health insurance is a major aspect to many lives.

Posted by: California Health Insurance | Nov 4, 2005 3:41:36 PM

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