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October 09, 2020 in Local Government and Civic Engagement

CCYP 2020 VOTER GUIDE: STATE SENATE

Know Your Candidates!

As a service to our members and the Cape Cod community at large, CCYP has compiled a series of non-partisan VOTER GUIDES for select local races in the 2020 General Election.

For this guide, we invited candidates running for the Cape's two (2) State Senate seats - representing the Cape & Islands District and the Plymouth & Barnstable District - to answer a short questionnaire. The candidates' unedited responses are presented below, along with their campaign website and social media handles.

Some candidates did not respond to our questionnaire; their names, information, and campaign websites are provided for reference.

NOTE: as a 501(c)3 nonprofit, CCYP is nonpartisan and does not endorse any candidate or political party. We are providing this information solely for the purposes of voter engagement and education.

Need more election details? See our Voter Resources section below.

Ready to dive in? Scroll down for candidate responses.

Voter Resources

MA Voter Information Search. What's my district? Where do I go to vote? What will my ballot look like? Use this easy search engine and arrive at the polls prepared.

Find Your Early Voting Location! In-person early Voting is available Oct. 17 to 30.

Early Voting by Mail. Oct. 28 is the last day to apply to vote by mail in the General Election. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this option is available for ALL voters and you do not need an excuse to vote by mail this year! Visit the State Secretary's website to learn more or contact your Town Clerk to apply.

State Ballot Questions. A series of Ballot Questions will appear on all ballots statewide. Read a summary on the State's website.

League of Women Voters Personalized Voter Guide. Enter your address into the Vote411 search to see candidates and preview your ballot.

Learn More about Policy and Civic Engagement Opportunities with CCYP. Join the CCYP Public Policy Committee, learn about Town Board/Committee/Commission vacancies, and more.

CAPE & ISLANDS DISTRICT
Cyr
Julian Cyr (D - Incumbent - Unopposed)

Website: https://www.juliancyr.com/

Facebook: @Julian.S.Cyr

Twitter: @JulianCyr

1. CAPE COD’S FUTURE. What are the three (3) most pressing issues facing Cape Cod today, and how would you address them if elected?

The Cape and Islands need solutions to weather and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, reign in housing costs, and protect our fragile environment.

Like all Cape Codders, the COVID-19 pandemic has upended our lives and presented a whole host of challenges, as well as opportunities. Working in partnership with civic leaders, the business community, health care providers, and community stakeholders like CCYP, I helped to establish the Cape Cod Reopening Task Force. We’ve tackled every issue imaginable, from consistent communication to the public regarding case numbers and steps they can take to keep themselves and others safe, to the urgent needs of child care, food security, and housing. The Reopening Task Force has provided a platform of collaborative leadership that’s made a huge difference for Cape Cod during this crisis. This will remain my top priority as we enter a difficult fall and winter.

As Senator for the Cape and Islands District, our future success depends on who can make a life here. Young people need a chance to raise families in our towns, and old adults deserve to stay in the communities they’ve helped to build. Reigning in housing costs for Cape Codders is perhaps the biggest piece of this puzzle. I have been a vocal supporter of incentivizing the development of rental housing available to residents across the income spectrum; establishing tax-free savings accounts for first time homebuyers; expansion of by-right zoning for accessory dwelling units and multi-use districts; and building infrastructure necessary to connect new housing with sewers, regional transportation, and economic hubs. Yes that demands state action in terms of zoning reform, but it also means town-by-town organizing and activism.

The Cape and Islands are uniquely vulnerable to the impact of a changing climate and environmental degradation. In the aftermath of recent Nor’easters that caused widespread damage, I quickly secured millions for climate resiliency — money to rebuild piers, dredge harbors, restore salt marshes that help absorb storm surge, and safeguard our communities through rising seas. We’re also leading the way with the nation’s first off-shore wind farm on the Eastern Seaboard, which when completed will turn Cape Cod into a net exporter of clean renewable energy. Much of our livelihood relies on pristine marine waters. To protect water quality for future generations, Cape Codders face a $4 billion price tag to clean up nitrogen pollution in our embayments and estuaries. I drafted legislation to provide $1 billion in state relief for wastewater projects across the region via a Cape & Islands Water Protection Fund, and got it signed into law; the fund is already realizing millions of dollars in property tax relief. Environmentalists and business leaders have hailed it as the most significant legislation for the region in a generation.

2. ECONOMIC AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT. What is the single biggest opportunity for economic and workforce development on Cape Cod, and how would you leverage it if elected?

Reigning in housing costs for workers and healthcare costs for employers is paramount for Cape Cod’s economic and workforce development.

To provide housing options for working Cape Codders, we need more housing units. Yes that can be achieved in part through the housing policies previously discussed (see above response), but we also need to invest in the infrastructure to realize housing production that fits our needs, specifically wastewater treatment. The Cape & Island Water Protection Fund is arguably the most significant opportunity for housing production on Cape Cod. Now in its second year, the fund is providing millions of state dollars to invest in wastewater infrastructure in our villages and along our main streets. That means housing production that protects our natural environment but leverages existing downtowns for denser, mixed use development. Additionally, I serve on all three joint committees with oversight on housing policy in the Legislature. As zoning reform and housing productions bills move through the Legislature, I already have a seat at the table when it comes to these vital bills.

I want to ensure that health care across the Commonwealth is affordable, accessible, and universal— that’s why I have led on healthcare policy as State Senator. I have heard from employers and employees alike that health insurance costs are a barrier. I have filed legislation that would require the state to compare our total health care spending with our projected health care spending in the Commonwealth implemented a single payer health care system; if after several years the “Single Payer Benchmark” outperformed our actual health care spending, the state’s Health Policy Commission would be tasked with developing a single payer implementation plan and submitting it to the Legislature. Healthcare costs in the form of insurance premiums paid by employers are increasing, even amidst the pandemic; for small businesses on Cape Cod who want to do right by their employees and provide health insurance, these escalating premiums inevitably suppress wages. A meaningful single payer option would allow employers to take dollars otherwise spent on insurance and raise wages, which would mean more dollars in workers pockets.

3. CIVIC ENGAGEMENT. If elected, what specific actions would you take to bring our community’s youth, working age young adults, and young families to the table in regional decision- and policy-making processes? How would you encourage and engage the young people of our community to take on leadership roles with local issues, like economic and workforce development?

I am eager to continue to work with my generation of Cape Codders and people of all ages to solve pressing challenges. To reign in housing costs, we need to organize town-by-town to make sure the voices of young professionals and their families are heard at Town Meeting. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it is crucial that we work together on developing solutions that meet people where they’re at in their lives and their recovery. And we need young professionals to advocate for solutions that both preserve our fragile environment and create the housing units we desperately need. As state Senator, I have listened and worked collaboratively across all 20 municipalities I represent — I’ll continue doing this in my third term.

4. CHALLENGES FOR YOUNG RESIDENTS. CCYP has consistently found through our independent research that young workers on Cape Cod face a number of significant barriers to successfully live and work in the region. The top three challenges that have been identified are: unaffordable and insufficient housing options;a lack of jobs that pay a living wage for our region (i.e., median income for Cape Cod is lower than the state overall, while cost of living is higher); and a lack of investment in infrastructure and services that support year-round quality of life for young people and families (i.e., child care, reliable internet as a public utility, investment in schools/public spaces). What resources or solutions would you propose and/or advocate for to help support young working age adults in these key areas of need?

One of the biggest challenges for young professionals on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket is being able to save for a down payment. I know this firsthand -- like many Cape Cod young professionals, I too am single and renting. I am proud to have filed legislation to make it easier for first-time home buyers to save for a single-family home in the Commonwealth. The bill allows any individual to open an account with a financial institution and designate the account, in its entirety, as a first-time home buyer savings account. The first time home buyer savings account is tax deductible during each tax year. Displacement is not only an issue in Boston, but impacts communities on the Cape as well. I am a vocal proponent of policies to increase the rights of tenants, allowing rents to stay in houses after the house was foreclosed, and funding for people to stay in their homes. I will continue to make affordable and workforce housing a top priority.

Childcare workers take care of us as we first enter the world, and in return Massachusetts should ensure we treat their profession with dignity. The $15 minimum wage legislation that we passed in 2018 will help to increase the salary of these workers, but more must be done. In Massachusetts, families pay on average $1,100 for childcare, on par with the median state rent and fully a third of the median household income. We can address these disparities by adopting a universal pre-K model, and moving education into the public domain. I am proud to fight for additional funding for early childhood education programs at the state level. However I believe we can move faster here on Cape Cod. I am part of a coalition, of which CCYP is a member, to advance universal pre-K and early education town-by-town. Already, Mashpee, Provincetown, and Wellfleet have moved forward with some level of municipally financed early education. I’m excited for what’s possible as we work to organize for town meetings in spring 2021.

Student debt is a burden on most everyone I know who is around my age. It is clear that the system of financing higher-education is not working. We must increase state funding for college students and develop tools so that colleges can keep their doors open without burdening students with increasing debt. I support providing at least two full years of post-secondary education free of charge to all Massachusetts high school graduates through our system of public and community colleges and universities. I believe education — including higher education — is one of the most worthwhile investments we make as a society. I support vocational education and training in the trades for all students, and would support increased investments in these programs.

5. AGE-DIVERSE COMMUNITIES. Massachusetts has one of the highest median ages in the country, with Cape Cod/Barnstable County one of the fastest aging regions in the State. The media narrative both locally and nationally is that “young people are fleeing Cape Cod.” However, the demographic changes we are seeing regionally - and their root causes - are much more complex than this. Describe your role as a potential elected official in helping to reshape the Cape’s narrative and cast a vision for our region that attracts and keeps young people on the Cape? If elected, would you advocate for a comprehensive, regional marketing strategy to attract and keep young people on the Cape as other New England states (VT, NH, Maine) have done? What else would you do to ensure that our region prioritizes age-diverse communities

As someone who grew up in Truro and returned here to make a life, I’ve known the challenges of keeping young people here because I’ve lived them. Today, I proudly represent the Cape & Islands District in the Massachusetts Senate, where I am the youngest member. In my adolescence and through college, I worked summers in my family’s seasonal restaurant, so I know what it takes to sustain a seasonal business on Cape Cod. The COVID-19 pandemic has hit Cape Cod workers and businesses hard, however the pandemic is also providing opportunities. People who are fortunate to be able to work remotely are realizing that they can work and live on Cape Cod. This modest population influx is welcomed news, considering the sobering demography of prior decades. However to successfully seize the moment, Cape Cod needs to be serious about housing production, especially for those who work in our hospitality, tourism, and cultural sector. Without addressing housing, the influx of younger workers who are able to work remotely may displace others who can’t afford the high cost of housing. We need to be more aggressive than ever in advancing affordable and workforce housing, moving forward on wastewater infrastructure, providing quality and affordable early education for young families, and push for robust broadband connectivity. The pandemic has provided an opportunity that we otherwise wouldn’t have had; the question is whether the region can meet the moment and recover in a way that prioritizes age diversity.

PLYMOUTH & BARNSTABLE DISTRICT
Senator Susan Moran 1
Susan Moran (D - Incumbent)

Website: www.votemoran.com
Facebook: @SusanMoranforStateSenate
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Vote_Moran
Instagram: @votemoran

1. CAPE COD’S FUTURE. What are the three (3) most pressing issues facing Cape Cod today, and how would you address them if elected?

As your Senator, I will continue my commitment to the economic impacts of climate change, infrastructure modernization, and community sustainability. In only the past 100 days I have delivered vital resources back to the district to address the technology needs of our schools, to ensure that our bridges remain the lifeblood of our tourism and small business economy, and passed legislation to create new industry and jobs that will not only turn our focus back to the oceans that surround this district for increased and sustainable food production but also begin to mitigate the ravages of nitrogen pollution in our watersheds and intercoastal waterways. All of our efforts to make our economy more sustainable and more able to withstand times of crisis like we are currently experiencing will require developing the new ideas that will provide for our children's future.

2. ECONOMIC AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT. What is the single biggest opportunity for economic and workforce development on Cape Cod, and how would you leverage it if elected?

There has never been a more clear opportunity to re-invent the way we live, work, and play. Our region has the ability to model what a sustainable community could look like. As your Senator, I will seek new ways to increase our commitment to the new normal. Changes to the way we think about and devote resources to our infrastructure improvements will make it easier to lessen our commutes, guarantee healthcare access, and allow new and established families to build a life for themselves in our district. Across this district, many families are spending far too much time apart. These are quality of life issues that we have the opportunity to change now. We can reduce drive times and emissions by fostering remote workforce development, we can keep our children and teachers engaged through a wider investment in broadband access, and we can revitalize our fishing industry and address our climate woes at the same time. These are only some of the opportunities that a prudent, thoughtful, and engaged community can take advantage of if we commit to a re-examination of our infrastructure strategies.

3. CIVIC ENGAGEMENT. If elected, what specific actions would you take to bring our community’s youth, working age young adults, and young families to the table in regional decision- and policy-making processes? How would you encourage and engage the young people of our community to take on leadership roles with local issues, like economic and workforce development?

Exactly as it is for people of age, the youth and young families must see a future for themselves in our district if we are ever to expect that will be successfully encouraged to engage in our conversations about policy. As your Senator, I will continue my dedication to community affordability and sustainability. I believe that if young people and in turn, young families see that it is plausible that in their future they will be able to find a good job, to afford a good home, and to send their children to good, safe schools, our ability to engage them in the decision making process will naturally become a bi-product. Civic engagement is about inclusion; I will continue to seek solutions to these barriers to make these kinds of futures a reality and look to promote inclusion as I do.

4. CHALLENGES FOR YOUNG RESIDENTS. CCYP has consistently found through our independent research that young workers on Cape Cod face a number of significant barriers to successfully live and work in the region. The top three challenges that have been identified are: unaffordable and insufficient housing options;a lack of jobs that pay a living wage for our region (i.e., median income for Cape Cod is lower than the state overall, while cost of living is higher); and a lack of investment in infrastructure and services that support year-round quality of life for young people and families (i.e., child care, reliable internet as a public utility, investment in schools/public spaces). What resources or solutions would you propose and/or advocate for to help support young working age adults in these key areas of need?

See Question 3. :)

5. AGE-DIVERSE COMMUNITIES. Massachusetts has one of the highest median ages in the country, with Cape Cod/Barnstable County one of the fastest aging regions in the State. The media narrative both locally and nationally is that “young people are fleeing Cape Cod.” However, the demographic changes we are seeing regionally - and their root causes - are much more complex than this. Describe your role as a potential elected official in helping to reshape the Cape’s narrative and cast a vision for our region that attracts and keeps young people on the Cape? If elected, would you advocate for a comprehensive, regional marketing strategy to attract and keep young people on the Cape as other New England states (VT, NH, Maine) have done? What else would you do to ensure that our region prioritizes age-diverse communities

I'm not convinced that in and of itself a marketing strategy is going to have the kind of impact we need. We must recognize that our youth is different from us, their experiences will drive them to make the types of decisions we are talking about. The reason they are leaving our shores is largely that available jobs don't allow them to earn enough income to live here. This problem must be tackled from both sides, we must make it more advantageous for year-round businesses of all sizes to establish themselves here through investment in the infrastructure improvements to make those industries possible and at the same time, we must be more creative in our development strategies to place everything a young family would need (access to housing, products, services, schools, and healthcare) conveniently close. There is an opportunity to create this type of living and the benefits would be far-reaching and not just limited to the quality of life for young families but all of us. Prudent planning that will entice developers to build truly sustainable communities is the key, not single-use developments, and their are many ways the state and local government can support those changes. This issue is of great interest to me, and your Senator I will be moving forward with legislation to affect these structural modernizations.

Jay McMahon (R)

Website: https://www.attorneyjaymcmahon...

This candidate did not respond to the CCYP Candidate Questionnaire.