The Enterprise: Congressional candidates strive to stand out at Newton debate | Dave Cavell for Congress

The Enterprise: Congressional candidates strive to stand out at Newton debate

While voters are getting to know the Democratic candidates vying for U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III’s 4th District congressional seat, they can be assured the winner will probably be a well-educated, high-achieving, anti-Trump liberal and Newton or Brookline resident who cares about human rights and the environment.

Seven of the people running for the 4th District seat – Jake Auchincloss, Dave Cavell, Becky Grossman, Alan Khazei, Ihssane Leckey, Jesse Mermell, and Ben Sigel – pitched their ideas Tuesday at a debate held at Boston College and sponsored by the school’s online media daily The Gavel.

While the candidates’ backgrounds and life experiences may differ, the goals they hope to achieve if elected were quite similar. During the debate, the candidates strove to differentiate themselves on diverse topics including LBGTQ+ rights, the environment, student debt and more.

Medicare for All

According to the Associated Press, Medicare for All generally stands for a “single-payer, government-run health care system.”

  • Leckey, a Brookline resident and Wall Street regulator, supported the measure and said healthcare is a human right. She decried “incrementalism,” saying it was time to rise above it.
  • Grossman, a Newton resident and current city councilor-at-large, said, “Families are in crisis” right now, referring to her own mother’s struggles with thousands of dollars in medication costs.
  • Brookline resident Mermell, the former vice president for external affairs at the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, referred to the current situation as a “broken system,” and asked what the cost would be if we don’t tackle the problem. She also said, “We need to de-stigmatize addiction,” and find more beds for treatment.
  • Khazei, a Brookline resident who started City Year, said his father was a doctor who treated everyone whether or not they could pay. He said it is important to build a coalition to negotiate drug prices. “We need to make sure people have choice,” he said.

Student debt and free tuition

  • Brookline resident Cavell, a former state assistant attorney general, said, “This is a crisis,” and revealed that he and his wife are in $300,000 worth of student debt. He also pointed to problems at BC, noting that “Student workers are workers,” and should be paid for their labor.
  • Marine veteran Auchincloss, a Newton resident and current city councilor-at-large, also emphasized the importance of committing funds to early education.
  • “Student loans are crushing a generation,” said Grossman. “We need to be investing in both ends of the spectrum.”
  • Leckey said education is a human right. She said the country should fund students at trade schools and those who are coming out of prison so they can reintegrate into society.

Gun control

  • Speaking from his experience leading troops in Afghanistan and Panama, Auchincloss said, “No civilian needs to own a weapon of war.” Like the other candidates, he supports red-flag laws, universal background checks and other commonsense measures to ensure safety.
  • Khasei said he wants to beat the NRA and said if elected, he’d advocate for thousands of people to testify nonstop for gun control.

LGBTQ+ community

  • Brookline resident Sigel, who worked for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and is also a lawyer, said, “Hate against any one community is hate against all.”
  • Cavell again mentioned BC specifically, saying he was concerned there are LGBTQ+ students on campus who do not feel supported
  • Referring to her time at Planned Parenthood, Mermell said it is essential to provide comprehensive medical information to those in the community.
  • While praising Kennedy’s work overall, Leckey also said she wished he had done more for the trans community.


  • Leckey, an avid supporter of the Green New Deal, said it is essential to check in with frontline, minority communities so they do not get left behind when fossil fuels are eventually phased out and fuel improvements are made.
  • Auchincloss said, “We need to seriously explore nuclear power” if we want the country to be carbon neutral by 2050. He also said reinventing public transit will help the environment.
  • Grossman advocated for the state to be a leader in the offshore wind industry.

Read the original article here.

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