Sunday, November 4, 2012

Election Day coming up

I've tended to stay away from overtly political posts, but it's a tough thing to avoid entirely because city planning and infrastructure is a necessarily political matter. Also, the biggest political day of the year is coming up, this November 6th. I just want to mention three Massachusetts candidates, briefly, who are running in contested elections this fall, and why I support them.

This list is composed of only Democrats because I find their priorities and values to be generally in the right place, and balanced. Unfortunately, the Republican party has become dominated by unhinged lunatics who threaten our economic growth as well as the religious liberty of non-Christians. They also seem intent on diverting as much money as possible to further highway construction, and rewarding their suburban and exurban base with more government resources and borrowing. I have trouble seeing why anyone who cares about cities, or urban issues, would be able to cast a vote for a Republican -- as long as that party continue to behave in this destructive manner, they are unfit to govern.

Elizabeth Warren

For me, Elizabeth's strength is on economic issues, particularly her work on the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau and reining in out-of-control banks. I also find the rest of her platform acceptable, and I know that she will work with President Obama if he is re-elected. Although her platform doesn't include too much explicitly on transportation, it does include this:
If we invest now in 21st century energy, over time we can lower the costs of production for all of our businesses. Right now, renewable energy is forced to compete with old, dirty energy sources like oil and coal that get billions in special breaks from Washington.

We need to upgrade our aging roads, bridges, mass transit and rail, water and sewage lines, port infrastructure, broadband internet - the basic pieces it takes to manufacture goods and to get them to market.
She also has a section on issues important to urban households, which is more than I can say for her opponent, who seems to treat Boston as a place for photo-ops, and nothing more.

Mike Capuano

For the most part I find Mike to be agreeable and a good fighter on issues important to my area as well as the nearby cities which I also follow. Then again, sometimes he gets weirdly pessimistic.

Here's what his website has to say about transportation:
I will continue fighting to increase access to public transportation by extending the Green Line into Somerville, making improvements to the Fairmont Line, advancing an Orange Line stop at Assembly Square, and making progress on the Urban Ring. An enhanced public transportation system will give residents greater options, increase access to employment opportunities and help protect the environment.

Will Brownsberger

The only competitive local election, in my area, this year is the State Senator for the Second Middlesex and Suffolk district. And this is perhaps the most important competitive election in terms of importance for direct, local issues. I am happy to report that State Senator Will Brownsberger is an excellent candidate. From a recent interview, when asked about his priorities, he responded:
1) The MBTA – addressing its maintenance backlog and financial sustainability.
Further on:
Business leaders agree that public transportation is the top jobs issue in the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District. [...]
So, a top priority for job creation in the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District is efficient public transportation. That starts with putting the MBTA on a sound financial footing that allows it to reduce its maintenance backlog. The MBTA's inability to properly maintain and update its core resources will lead to further degradation of service over time. Additionally, we need to look at measures to improve service on the Green Line, which serves much of the district -- changing traffic signalization on the major thoroughfares that it shares with vehicular traffic may help. Finally, longer term, we need to advance plans for improving circumferential transit service -- connecting Longwood to the other great concentration of research in Kendall Square area and also to residential areas from Everett to Roxbury where many hospital workers live. This inner belt transit concept [Urban Ring] has been on the drawing boards for years, but has been stalled by the Big Dig financial crunch.
Will has been State Senator for two years and his district stretches from his native Belmont all the way along Commonwealth Avenue to Arlington Street in the Back Bay. As you can see on this map, his district includes the Central Subway through the Back Bay, portions of Fenway/Kenmore, and the "B" branch through Allston/Brighton. So his territory includes a very heavily traveled portion of the Green Line. Which is why I'm happy to see that he takes it very seriously.

Not only that, he also is very interactive in the community, and even invites everyone to call his personal cell-phone or write to his direct e-mail address if they have issues to talk about. He updates his website frequently and personally responds to all the comments posted on the articles. It's a level of transparency and openness to which I hope that all other members of State Legislature aspire.

Whichever way you vote, the most important thing is that you remember to go out and do so by Tuesday, November 6th. And pay attention to those local races, some of them could be quite important.

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