I voted for David Rogers in the Democratic primary but I will be voting for Jim Gammill in the general election for three reasons:
1. I think Gammill is the best qualified candidate. He has held high level positions in government, academia, business and the non-profit sector. He has the wisdom and perspective that accrue to someone with that experience. He is a budget expert and former finance professor while the legislature is mainly populated by lawyers. Also Gammill, at 58, does not aspire to higher office; his energy will be focused on serving the district and improving governance in the Massachusetts legislature.
2. Massachusetts and its cities and towns face grave long-term financial challenges and I’m not persuaded our current legislative leaders can fix them. For example Belmont owes its present employees and retirees future health insurance and other benefits that, when discounted back to the present, amount to approximately $200 million, more than two times the annual town budget. According to former Belmont Warrant Committee Chairman Michael Widmer “There is no way that Belmont or virtually any other community can ever pay for this obligation … .” This is not a problem that can be solved by Belmont; it requires action by the legislature. Our previous state representative, Will Brownsberger, deserves great credit for leadership on pension reform, but there is still a long way to go. Gammill, as a non-partisan budget expert, has much to contribute, and no political axes to grind.
3. Both houses of the Massachusetts legislature have been controlled by Democratic majorities since the late 1950s. This will not change in the foreseeable future. While I side with the Democrats on most issues, it is impossible to ignore the consequences of this uninterrupted one-party reign. The last three speakers of the Massachusetts House are convicted felons. The Ware report on the Probation Department patronage scandal made it clear that present leadership in the house and senate was part of the patronage system, if not criminally culpable. Gammill has made open government a key part of his platform. Maybe Belmont, by electing a progressive independent, can be the start of something new and refreshing in Massachusetts politics.
Vincent Stanton, Jr.