Serving You As State Rep
How I'll Do It, the Independent Way
These are the four jobs I will do as your State Rep:
- Constituent Servant
- Local Government Advocate
- Committee Member
- Policy Voice and Vote
All the other members will have a fifth job -- Party Activist -- but as an Independent, I'm free of any obligations to advance a partisan agenda.
On The Job: Constituent Servant
Every legislator -- from Town Meeting Member to U.S. Senator -- must fully embrace the role of constituent servant. The member is a guide and counselor to each person in the district who seeks answers and services from the government. It's not necessarily a commitment to be an pure advocate all the time -- sometimes constituents seek things that are not possible -- but the member owes it to the constituent to try to open the doors so that the constituent can make her or his case.
In my political experience, the biggest hang-up to effective constituent services is that some politicians are very competitive about who takes credit for helping a constituent. This is not a problem with me. I'm happy to work closely with all my colleagues at the State House to share networks, connections, ideas, resources, and to let them take all the credit (and more).
I will also take a fresh look at how constituent service is done and come up with a number of new ways to improve upon it. I know I'll do that because that's exactly what I've done in every other job I have had -- see some connection that others have missed and figure out how to streamline the process and use new technologies in a creative way.
What you'll get from me is:
* a commitment that everyone, regardless of party affiliation, deserves a chance to make a case to the government;
* an open collaborative effort to coordinate with my colleagues and to streamline the delivery of constituent services; and
* a commitment to innovate and use the latest technologies to serve the district.
On The Job: Local Government Advocate
This is the job where my Independent status will be most helpful. Free from any obligations to support a state or national party platform, I'll be able to focus exclusively on the agenda set by the local governments through their duly elected officials.
The State Rep is the link between the local government and the state government, and to me, the loyalty is clear: the State Rep is there to advocate on behalf of the local government.
A State Rep can not get anything passed alone. Even though a specific need may have a limited impact, the State Representative needs to have good collegial relations with the other members and recognize that it is just as important to help other members take care of their own specific local legislative concerns.
On the Job: Committee Member
The bulk of the legislative work is done through the committee system. There are 28 joint committees (with members from both the House and Senate), and an additional nine committees in the House itself. There is plenty of work to do.
I bring unique expertise and experience to the State House -- I know there is no one else at the State House with my background: Ph.D. economist, senior White House official, chief of staff for a Massachusetts non-profit, developer of large software systems, investor in technology start-ups, Wall Street quant, business school faculty member, experienced political field operative, and local official. I'm a free agent -- "Put me to work!" is what I'll say -- and I know someone in leadership will take me up.
On the Job: Policy Voice and Vote
The final job is to vote on legislation and to have a soapbox from which to talk about policy issues large and small. On the campaign trail, voters have a keen interest in these topics, especially on the cultural issues of gay marriage and abortion rights. (I'm pro-gay-marriage and pro-choice, by the way. And you can find more of my positions here, at 'hot topics'.)
But when one looks at the actual roll call votes of the State House, a striking fact is how few close votes there are. In the last two years, the 2011-12 term, there were 375 roll call votes, and only one was decided by less than 10 votes. The Speaker of the House in Massachusetts has tighter control over the flow of legislation than in almost any other state, and it has been this way for years.
The lesson here is not to pin too high a set of expectations on your next State Rep to single-handedly change important policy. He or she is not going to be Speaker next year, and under the current rules of the game, that's really what it takes. What you can expect from me is that I am committed to bringing to the public the full story, in real time, of how policy is being shaped and influenced at the State House.
While many candidates might talk about openness and transparency during the campaign season, only an Independent candidate can really deliver on it. The Independent, like me, who has received the authority by the voters through election over both a Democrat and Republican will be able to resist the institutional pressure to keep the best details behind the closed caucus doors.