Continuing our introduction of our strong, informed, active candidates running for State Rep on the North Shore in 2018 – allow me to introduce Allison Gustavson, candidate for 4th Essex.
Stay informed about Allison’s campaign, and find out how you can help at AllisonGustavson.com
Why are you running for State Representative/why should I vote for you?
I’m running because I believe our future depends upon how we proactively address the critical issues facing our district: education, our environment, and our economic and fiscal well-being. I’m a parent, former teacher, small business manager and community volunteer, and I know how to work hard. I’m running against a 20-year incumbent whose views are out of step with the majority of people who live here; he has an A rating from the NRA and long held an “Opponent” rating from Planned Parenthood, and I think we can do so much better for our community.
Who is your personal hero and why?
Nobody can inject a feeling of power and agency into my being as quickly as Barack Obama. I can name many others whose work and lives I admire deeply and profoundly, but from the moment I first became aware of him, Obama awakened in me the sense that my life can be oriented effectively (and with pleasure!) towards the service of the greater good. His presidency certainly wasn’t perfect, but he was, I believe, a model of thoughtful, devoted, deeply intelligent integrity that married knowledge with conviction towards creating the highest possible vision for both himself and our country, and I need only see a photo of President Obama to be viscerally reminded of all he represents to me.
What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about the power of authentic conversation to transform perspectives and bridge perceived barriers between people with disparate worldviews. I believe it is possible and necessary to create an environment in which we can move beyond a binary approach to the issues and decisions we face as individuals, communities, and society in general; our culture has become too entrenched in a “yes/no” “with us/against us” approach to the complexities of social and political life, and I believe deeply in the power of facilitated dialogue to transcend those perceived boundaries and arrive at a position of mutual understanding, if not agreement, to compromise and move forward. I am equally passionate about working tirelessly to ensure that while life inevitably involves experiences of challenge and hardship, we can each fulfill our individual and collective potential to live a dignified, purposeful, connected life.
What are your ideas on gun violence, the environment, elections & voting rights, education and/or healthcare?
On gun violence:
I support common sense gun laws because I believe that doing so is an expression of love of life and of our children, mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers. Such laws do not violate our freedoms any more than requiring seat belts in cars or fences around swimming pools violates our freedoms to drive or swim.
I am one of the approximately 90% of citizens who support regulations that promote gun safety, and I believe that language matters. Phrases like “arming teachers” or “hardening schools” have been inserted into the national conversation to numb us to the inherent absurdity of the proposal and move the needle towards accepting the idea that more guns will make us safer. They will not. We need better gun safety, not more guns.
On the environment:
Every town in our spectacular coastal district is approximately located 100 feet above sea level. We really are on the front lines of climate change, which—as we have experienced with recent flooding—is a direct threat to our daily functioning. I not only support legislation that shifts us away from the carbon-heavy practices that are responsible for climate change itself, I am also committed to collaborating with all stakeholders, both public and private, to bring proactive, innovative infrastructural solutions to the inevitable challenges wrought by climate change and extreme weather. With bold leadership, our charming coastal district will become a model for climate change adaptation and restoration for the rest of the country.
On election laws/voting rights:
I founded Essex County #6 Indivisible with the vision of creating a new, vigorous, and ENJOYABLE forum within which to reinvigorate civic engagement in our community. Even in Essex County, only 58% of voters regularly vote in elections. But an informed, empowered, activated electorate is foundational to our democracy and affects nearly every aspects of our lives. I believe we must support measures that encourage voter participation and empowerment, such as Automatic Voter Registration, and strenuously object to those that seek to undermine such participation, including my opponent’s proposed Voter ID bill.
It’s time to recognize that such a vision must include educational excellence for all children at every level; this is not only a moral imperative, it is also in the best interest of all Massachusetts communities. Everywhere I’ve gone, from a Regional School Finance Forum to meetings with school committee members to local online groups of concerned parents, I’ve also heard the same sense of desperation: “Please fix the Chapter 70 Educational Funding Formula.” It is incomprehensible, unfair, and long overdue for an overhaul. I’m very glad to see that there is some movement in the Legislature towards addressing this issue, but that funding formula has plagued our schools and short-changed our children for far too long.
When the state incentivized the regionalization of schools, districts were promised fully funded transportation. That promise has not been kept, and towns have been forced to make cuts and pass override after override to compensate. This is unaffordable, and unsustainable. It has drastic repercussions on town budgets and personal wallets, and forces towns to make impossible choices between the budgetary needs of families and the education of its children. And since the benefits of full-day kindergarten are indisputable, it is, quite frankly, astonishing that in this day and age, two of our towns still don’t offer it.
We can and must do better here in Massachusetts, where we have always been leaders. It’s time to think big and move beyond our current state of “chronic short-termism” if we want to see this district thrive from its classrooms to its clam flats.
Our healthcare system is clearly broken, and that broken system has cascading consequences that affect every other aspect of our lives and our society, from our small businesses’ ability to compete to our schools ability to function and fund their basic needs to citizens, young and old, who are prevented from receiving the treatment they need due to an inability to pay. We were the first state in the nation to provide universal healthcare, and we must use the unparalleled resources at our disposal to squarely repair what we all know to be an unnecessarily crippling and overly complex healthcare system that in no way prioritizes health. I support the exploration of a single-payer healthcare system in Massachusetts as the route to a system that balances the needs of our residents with the cost of providing for a high standard of care.
A vote for you is a vote for PROACTIVE, ENERGETIC LEADERSHIP.
Why should I vote for you?
You should vote for me because I have the power to re-energize this community, to include all of us—whose lives are deeply affected by the decisions made on Beacon Hill—in the legislative process, and ensure that our values are truly represented at the State House.
We are at a critical moment in the American story, and our leaders at every level must set a bold and pragmatic vision of stewardship for our district and recognize that the issues of our time are all deeply connected to each other and to our daily lives. I believe a healthy society asks itself critical questions and engages with complex issues in a mature and civil manner. I am running for this office because I believe we are living in extraordinary times that call for EACH OF US to bring our power and agency, our skills and gifts, directly into the civic process itself. We live in a spectacular district; our towns are rightfully proud of their rich history, their open spaces, and their unique charm and character. As your next representative, I will work with you every day to imagine and build a future of which all of us—from our youngest children to our eldest seniors, and those of us that fall somewhere in between—can be equally proud. It’s time to elect a new leader for State Representative in the 4th Essex District, and I hope you’ll join me.