QUESTIONS FOR 8TH ESSEX CANDIDATES: No. 6 — Combating climate change

The Marblehead News posed a series of common questions to the six Democratic candidates for state representative from the 8th Essex District. There is no declared Republican candidate, meaning the winner of the primary Tuesday, Sept. 6 is likely to head to Beacon Hill to serve Marblehead, Swampscott and a portion of Lynn. Over the next two weeks, the Marblehead News will post the candidates’ responses to our questions, side by side, alternating the order as we go.

Previous questions:

Q1. Tell us about yourself.

Q2. What life event most profoundly affected your political views, and how did it shape them?

Q3. What are your three top priorities for the 8th Essex District?

Q4. During the Marblehead League of Women Voters’ 8th Essex District forum, candidates agreed nearly on all the issues. How would you distinguish yourself from the others? 

Q5. 2022 has been a horrific year for gun violence. While Massachusetts has the strongest gun-control legislation in the country, what, if any, actions can be taken to further address gun violence in Massachusetts?

Today’s question:

Q6. Marblehead has more than 14 miles of coastline, making it especially vulnerable to climate change and rising sea levels. How will you work with town and state leaders on sustainability and climate change issues, as well as plans to mitigate impacts in Marblehead?

Terri Tauro

Terri Tauro

In my role as the department administrator to the harbormaster for the past 12 years, I have been involved in the Massachusetts Clean
Water Act pump-out program, shrink wrap recycling and have been working toward installation of solar docks.

We have recently acquired a federal grant to conduct a harbor resilience and maintenance study. This is a three-part process in its first stage of an overall study from seawalls to rising sea levels.

The second stage will ascertain feasibility, cost and priority, while the third will focus on
funding. It will be my job as the state rep to secure as much state funding as possible.

In addition, I have experience with federal grants and FEMA and will work with our senators and representatives as well as the local leaders in Swampscott, Lynn and Marblehead.

I have built up a large group of waterfront contacts, including harbormasters, marine industry leaders and public officials. My experience on the waterfront and connections to reach out to for information with a phone call will be a great asset to the district.

In my roles as union president and Executive Board member of the AFL-CIO, North Shore Labor Council, I have an endless pool of people to educate me on the infrastructure and maintenance of the new renewable energy projects throughout the state.

I have been endorsed by the building trades, iron workers and carpenters. I also have the endorsement of GE 201 that is poised to manufacture key components for offshore wind farms (OSW).

Senator Markey and Representative Moulton recently had a meeting with the GE local and are advocating for the plant workers. I plan to join the fight for Massachusetts to lead the country in the development of OSW and to create good paying jobs with benefits for the people of our district.

Tristan Smith

Tristan Smith

Municipal and state leaders need to work together on this issue. The state needs to lead the way into mitigating the effects of climate change through increased investment into renewable energy and moving away from carbon-based energy sources.

On the municipal level, the focus needs to be on adaptation measures, such as shoring up seawalls and preparing for new levels of storm surges. 

Marblehead is unique in both of these aspects. First, its municipal grid offers a level of flexibility that could allow it to divest from carbon-based energy sources more quickly than at the state level. The town has a vested interest in doing so, as it would be doing its part in mitigating the effects of climate change.

Furthermore, Marblehead’s proximity to the sea means it needs to take serious measures to address new levels of storm surge. The state representative needs to articulate these needs and deliver state aid to the district to help fund these projects, as they are needed now. 

Jenny Armini

Jenny Armini

Rising temperatures bring more frequent and intense storms. On top of that, sea-level rise is projected to jump anywhere from 1.1 feet to 2.7 feet by mid-century. Both expose Marblehead’s coast to flooding, high winds, and erosion. Neighborhoods, ecosystems, transportation routes, and infrastructure are all vulnerable.

The town is fortunate to have citizens actively engaged in planning and securing the natural and man-made structures along the town’s 14 miles. The Harbor Plan Working Group is currently guiding the process for the coming years. The 2009 plan outlined the need for capital improvements at the town’s docks, landings, and sea walls. Those needs still exist in 2022.

Securing or repositioning the town’s infrastructure that is located on or near the water must also be considered. Importantly, long-term projections should be part of any planning (such as sea wall height required to get us through to 2070), so that we avoid returning to taxpayers at all levels of government and other funders multiple times for the same needs at the same locations. 

I look forward to partnering with the Working Group, Select Board, Harbors & Waters Board, and other stakeholders to educate the community and the state about the impact of climate change on the 8th Essex District; to help convene experts, government leaders, and citizens on the issues; and to secure federal and state funds to achieve Marblehead’s goals.

Diann Slavit-Baylis

Diann Slavit-Baylis

In this coastal district, there is no greater threat to our quality of life and local economy than climate change.

I grew up in Haverhill on the Merrimack River. My father, Red Slavit, was harbormaster for many years and was responsible for the Merrimack River up to Newburyport Harbor. I grew up understanding how vital this river was to the city of Haverhill, and how closely tied it was to fishing, tourism, and recreation. I see similarities in how the ocean and our beaches in this region impact this district’s economy and quality of life.

There is a Standing House Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change in the Massachusetts legislature. I would like to serve on that committee because I believe this is some of the most important work of our times and critical to our children’s future on this planet.

We need to accelerate the transition to clean energy, starting with getting us off of fossil fuels and transmission to 100 percent clean energy in electrical generation by 2035 and in how we heat our buildings and in the transportation sector by 2045 – consistent with the goals put forward by the Mass Climate Action Network.

We need stronger incentives for the purchase of electric vehicles and a much broader network of charging stations. Locally, I would work closely with Sustainable Marblehead, and our new town administrator and local elected officials on reducing our community’s overall carbon footprint and on resiliency measures to protect our coastline.

Doug Thompson

Doug Thompson

As I noted earlier, I have the put forth the most ambitious plan to fight the climate crisis to get us to Net Zero by 2035. 

The most important thing we must do to protect our coastline is to make major investments in decarbonizing our transportation systems, power sources, and building heating and cooling systems. These three sectors produce almost all of our carbon emissions. In my detailed plan at doug4rep.com, I make very specific proposals to get us to Net Zero by 2035.  

In the meantime, sea levels will continue to rise.   I will work hand in hand with the leadership of Marblehead, Swampscott and Lynn to address this issue.

This is a massive problem that affects coastal communities across Massachusetts and in other states as well. This will require working with our federal representatives and many other colleagues in the Legislature to allocate the necessary funds and put in place the necessary policies to address coastal resiliency that will protect our communities over the next 50 years that seas will likely rise.

Polly Titcomb

Polly Titcomb

Residents of the 8th Essex district have already begun to feel the impact of climate change. From reinforcing and improving the existing seawalls to constructing new protective infrastructures, I will be deliberate and persistent in my efforts to establish effective legislation to protect the safety and economy of our community.

Coastal municipalities do not have the resources to fund the infrastructure needed for coastal resiliency, and I will work to ensure that the financial burden of responding to the impacts of climate change on the coast does not rest on any coastal community alone.

The ocean and our beaches are a valuable resource that must be protected and properly maintained. I will prioritize these efforts by seeking financial and technical support from the state to mitigate the noxious condition and public health dangers of the King’s Beach coastline.

As we all try to live our lives in more environmentally friendly ways, there are currently many barriers – such as language, education, cost, renting-versus-owning, and administrative barriers – that prevent individuals and households from adopting greener practices. I will work to remove barriers to access.

For example, I would advocate for easing the restrictions to qualify for the MassSave program and non-polluting vehicles, and improving financing relating to the same.

This work must be done on a larger scale as well; I support the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy in buildings and infrastructure. I will sponsor bills that create stronger incentives for businesses to go green and threaten stronger repercussions for environmentally damaging practices.

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