As part of our Election 2022 coverage we asked both candidates vying to be the Democratic nominee for the 21st Middlesex State Representative District. There are currently two candidates running against each other in the September 6 State Primary – incumbent Ken Gordon and challenger Timmy Sullivan. For these Candidate Profiles we asked each candidate a set of five questions to get their thoughts on a variety of topics.
Here on Timmy Sullivan’s responses:
- What is your motivation to run for this office?
I am a life-long Burlington resident, and I want to be a champion for the residents of our district. Massachusetts is facing bigger challenges than ever before– we have the fastest growing average of student debt in the country; Burlington perennially faces a water crisis, and our energy costs are too high; and the Massachusetts legislature is one of the least transparent in the country. I am running for State Representative to strengthen our public schools and colleges, win an affordable, green future, and take on political corruption.
I’ve spent the last six years advocating for my community. I played a critical role in pushing UMass Amherst– the state’s largest public emitter– to be on track for 100% renewable energy by 2032! As the Executive Director of a state-wide education nonprofit, I’ve helped bring Massachusetts closer to guaranteeing debt-free public college for all residents. It’s time to bring a fresh perspective to the State House. I will tackle corruption in the legislature, invest in Burlington’s water infrastructure so we have clean drinking water, lower our energy costs with renewable energy, and help families afford the growing costs of childcare and healthcare. I am glad to be part of our community, and I want to make sure we continue building a Burlington where every family can thrive.
- What are the top priorities you would focus on if elected?
I will be a champion for our public schools and colleges; win an affordable, green future for our community; and take on political corruption. I will fight to strengthen our public schools and colleges, reduce education costs for families, and enshire public education as a right for all residents. Doing this entails passing universal child care and pre-kindergarten; guaranteeing debt-free public higher education; increasing mental health resources in schools; hiring and retaining more educators of color; and supporting teachers’ right to bargain for fair contracts.
I am the only candidate with a published plan for the environment– and my plan will reduce energy costs for residents in our district. To save families money while protecting our natural resources means that we need to transition to 100% renewable energy, and create a regional public energy grid. I think we have a great opportunity to build a ton of solar in Burlington’s commercial district that all our residents could benefit from. I also have a plan for our water– I will prioritize safe drinking water in schools, fight to bring at-home filtration systems to the district, target the root causes of elevated PFAS in our water, and invest in water-capture systems at our public buildings to save as much of the limited MWRA safe drinking water for consumption.
It’s also time for us to take on political corruption. The Massachusetts legislature lets State Representatives take private votes within committee, keeping constituents in the dark and leading to undemocratic decision making. This is wrong. I am the only candidate in this race pledging to make every vote I take a matter of public record– because it’s your right as a constituent to know how I will vote, and I honor that right.
- What do you think the state should do in the aftermath of the Supreme Court overturning Roe. v. Wade?
It is very important that Massachusetts codified the ROE act into law. Our Commonwealth needs to continue to model the best practices with respect to healthcare and reproductive justice by also passing several other key policies that protect people. Firstly, we need to ensure that everyone seeking an abortion in Massachusetts actually has access to that legal right by passing universal, affordable, and inclusive healthcare. I support passing a single-payer program in Massachusetts to save money, guarantee universal full-spectrum coverage, and increase healthcare outcomes. I will also advocate for legislation to make medication abortion available at public colleges as well as bills that expand access to contraception and family planning. We also need to pass the Healthy Youth Act, a bill to support our public schools with comprehensive and inclusive sexual health education.
It’s also important to note that many legal scholars argue that overturning Roe. v. Wade opens the door for SCOTUS to also target Obergefell. v. Hodges (same-sex marriage) and Loving. v. Virginia (interracial marriage). I am someone from the LGBTQ community who is in an interracial relationship– I understand the risks here, and will organize to protect everyone in our community from that place of knowing what’s at stake. We should pursue constitutional amendments that enshrine these essential privacy rights– of love and reproductive health care– in our state constitution to ensure Massachusetts is a safe haven within the country.
- How do you think the state should proceed with firearm legislation in light of changes at the federal level?
In 2018 I worked for Senator Elizabeth Warren and helped compile survey data for the report issued by her office titled “Keeping Schools Safe: Perspectives from Massachusetts Educators and Families.” That report taught me that Massachusetts has the lowest rate of gun deaths in the nation. It also clearly demonstrated that stakeholders see strong gun laws as the #1 strategy to reduce gun violence. I agree– by reducing the prevalence of guns in our community, we reduce the risk of gun violence. After the latest SCOTUS ruling led to the overturning of New York’s gun laws, we need to make sure Burlington’s next State Representative will have the energy to stand up to some powerful interests that will turn to our state next. To this end, I also believe we need to pass strong anti-corruption policies to make sure all decision-making in our state government is of the will of the people rather than well-funded special interests. I will introduce legislation that requires disclosure of all lobbyist meetings, open constituent access to committee meetings, and making sure the votes I take as a State Representative are public.
- How would you help the district recover from lingering effects of the pandemic?
I’ve witnessed the pandemic from many angles– my mom is a nurse; one of my brothers is a small-business owner in town; my two younger brothers graduated from Burlington High School during different stages of the pandemic; I’ve worked from home since 2020; and most members of my family have caught COVID-19. I know first-hand how multi-faceted the impacts of the pandemic have been, and that’s why I know we need multi-faceted policy solutions that uplift everyone in our community. Firstly, the pandemic showed us the importance of high-quality, universal healthcare coverage as a right. It’s time Massachusetts makes itself a leader on healthcare again by enacting a single-payer program, which I will proudly push forward. I will also address the skyrocketing cost of living. Working from home, the war abroad, and the profiteering of utility companies have all driven our energy costs through the roof! My plan for renewable energy is really a cost-savings plan for families to lower all of our energy costs. We must invest in fare-free public transit to save costs on fuel, reduce our energy emissions, and restore vibrancy to our downtowns and shopping centers. I will also make sure the state invests in affordable housing so that everyone in our district is able to afford to live in the community they love.
We can afford all of this by making sure our economy is fair and works for all of us. What I mean is that large private institutions that don’t pay any money in taxes– such as Harvard– or luxury real-estate developers can afford to pay their fair share into our economy so that working people in our district are no longer squeezed. It doesn’t make any sense to me that a sub-minimum wage worker bussing tables in a Burlington restaurant, or new parents working while caring for young ones, or a grandparent helping to put their grandchild through college, pays more money in taxes than large, untaxed private institutions who have profited enormously during the pandemic. As your State Representative, I will make sure our economy is fair and that we make strong investments in the places we call home.