By John Stefanini
FRAMINGHAM – Looking at the letters to the editor, Facebook likes and comments, photos of people campaigning for the state representative candidates, one thing is absolutely clear: where each candidate garners their supporters.
Why are most of Priscila Sousa’s volunteers, supporters, donors and validators from the district, while most of Margareth Shepard’s are from outside the district?
Throughout my political life, I have witnessed time and time again, well-intentioned power brokers north of Route 9 trying to control decision makers from our south of Route 9 neighborhoods. In fact, we’re accustom to this behavior. However, watching the level of intensity coming from outside the district in this race has been profound.
The imbalance of thought and experience in our government, and the north vs south mindset, has let issues go ignored for too long. It is why two-thirds of our students ride buses for hours each day; why our four-year olds do not have the same early childhood education like their crosstown peers; environmental justice sites are endlessly talked about, but not cleaned up; local traffic concerns, like crosswalks, go unaddressed; Downtown business owners’ concerns ignored; and monstrous unaffordable apartment buildings tower over our homes, built with inadequate parking and planning.
Priscila Sousa, raised and educated in southside neighborhoods, is the only candidate committed to building a new school on the Bethany property, which was selected by a unanimous School Committee vote and supported by the Council and Mayor, and is prepared to secure necessary funding to cleanup Mary Dennison Park, 350 Irving Street and General Chemical.
She sees the issues facing our neighborhoods — she has experienced them. She is ready to be the advocate we need on Beacon Hill to bring state resources to our city to fix the problems that have been ignored for too long.
Meanwhile, her opponent’s view is influenced by individuals who do not share in this same experience and explains why she repeatedly voted against the best interests of her neighbors. Her passive leadership style is found in her public voting record from the Council.
Shepard sided again and again with the former Mayor against the interest of our residents to postpone and cut the school budget in the middle of the pandemic, block local traffic improvements, including at Bethany Road and Winthrop Street, spike water and sewer rates, keep high salary and allow stays at local hotels for former mayor, stalled the cleanup of contaminated sites, and create more apartments with fewer protections for our neighborhoods.
Her voting record and her lack of engagement with southside neighborhoods are some of the reasons why the folks who know the district, know it’s people and businesses, know Priscila is the best choice. It’s Priscila’s home.
As a former five-term State Representative, I know what it takes to serve our community at the State House. Our district needs a strong leader, who will use her voice to tirelessly work on South Framingham’s behalf on the issues important to us, not Beacon Hill insiders. We need a collaborator who works with everyone and understands the people she serves.
Priscila Sousa has the energy, passion and purpose to be our voice.
District 8 City Councilor John Stefanini and his wife, daughter, and yellow Labrador live in the 6th Middlesex District.