Andover News asked candidates in the contested state representative and state senate races in the Nov. 8 state election to fill out questionnaires outlining their experience and positions. We’ll publish them as the candidates complete the surveys to help voters make decisions before they had to the polls.
First up is incumbent state Rep. Tram T. Nguyen (D-Andover), who is being challenged by Republican Jeffrey DuFour for the 18th Essex District seat in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, which includes precincts 1, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 in Andover and parts of Boxford, North Andover and Tewksbury.
Age on election day: 36
Family: Husband Nathan.
Education: BA, Tufts University; JD, Northeastern University; MPA, Harvard Kennedy School of Government (expected May 2024)
Current occupation: Second-term Massachusetts State Representative. First elected to office in 2018.
Campaign Website: https://www.votetram.com/
Social media accounts: Twitter | LinkedIn | Instagram | Facebook
What prompted you to run for public office?
“As an attorney with Greater Boston Legal Services, I represented workers, survivors of domestic violence, children, seniors, and veterans. I saw how good policy helped people and lack of policy hurt them. So I advocated for policies at the state capital, helping to secure the passage of legislation such as paid family medical leave, bilingual education, and an increase in earned income tax credit (EITC). From this experience, I saw that passing legislation at the State House could help many communities, so I decided to run for State Representative.
“I was elected in 2018, and immediately faced several crises, including the aftermath of the Merrimack Valley gas explosions, and of course COVID-19. I have spent two terms helping constituents through these crises, from helping impacted residents obtain temporary stoves and heaters, to helping those laid off during the pandemic qualify for unemployment. Still, there is so much more work to do. If re-elected, I will continue to pursue financial relief for working families, preserve reproductive freedom and LGBTQ rights, and protect our community from climate change.”
Highlight your biggest accomplishment(s) during the current term.
“During the 2021-2022 term, the biggest need was to help people recover from the pandemic. During this time, we maintained steady communication with our constituents about resources that were available to them, including bi-weekly newsletters, daily social media posts, and regular office hours. We made sure to return calls to every single resident who reached out to us, and to pursue solutions to their problems vigorously.
“As an attorney with experience in employment law, I helped hundreds of constituents navigate the state unemployment system, which was more complicated by conflicting forgiveness and clawback systems. I saw first-hand the shortcomings of the system, and filed several bills to help low-wage workers qualify for unemployment. I also filed a bill to help replenish the Unemployment Trust Fund. These bills were included in the COVID relief bill, helping hundreds of my constituents and thousands of Massachusetts residents.”
What differentiates you from your opponent?
“First, my experience. As the Vice-Chair of the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, I have and will continue to prioritize helping working families. In two terms I’ve passed five bills, brought millions in funding back to the district for transportation, schools, senior centers, veterans’ memorials, electric charging stations, and more; and I’ve helped thousands of constituents with state-related issues like unemployment and roadway issues. I have supported balanced state budgets every year of my terms, including FY2021, which was severely affected by COVID, and I have helped the Commonwealth move toward economic recovery with responsible budgets since then.
“Second, my focus on working families, and on fighting for their safety and their opportunities. I have passed bills helping unemployed workers, and filed a bill strengthening protections for injured workers which I hope to pass in the next session. I strongly support legislation combatting wage theft and supporting workers’ rights.
“My goal in the next session is to make childcare accessible and affordable for all working families, and advocate for policies that support small businesses and strengthen our local economy. Third, I am a strong advocate for our public schools, which provide a path to success for all students. I unequivocally support reproductive freedom and LGBTQ+ rights. My purpose has always been to build an inclusive and welcoming community for all.”
On The Issues
Andover News asked candidates to fill in the blank on a series of statements to help voters better understand their views of key issues in the 2022 election.
MCAS is: “a well-intentioned concept that creates more problems than it solves. It was designed to identify schools that were failing to provide their students a good education, but it never funded solutions to help the failing schools. As a result, students have been stuck with stressing over an annual test from 3rd grade to 10th grade; teachers have had to ‘teach to the test’ rather than introducing interesting and innovative curriculum; and the ‘failing’ schools continue to fail.”
Public transportation in Massachusetts is: “in desperate need of improvement. We all know how badly the MBTA is struggling. We need to build it back better to make it reliable and accessible, and while we do that, we need to build a cleaner, greener public transportation infrastructure.”
The response by Massachusetts lawmakers to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade: “I am proud of the work my Legislative colleagues and I did to preserve reproductive freedom in Massachusetts. Our legislation protects both patients and providers of abortion care.”
The legislature can be respond to the affordable housing crisis in Massachusetts by: “being more proactive in identifying areas where affordable housing can be built, and creating programs that incentivize contractors to build that housing.”
What other issues are important in this year’s election? “We must work to address the impact of inflation on the economy and working families. It is essential to ensure that the economic recovery from COVID-19 is equitable for all. Workers should feel safe on the job and should have access to benefits including healthcare and paid leave; working families should have access to good, reliable child care; and everyone who works should be paid a fair wage. During the pandemic, many companies have recorded record profits; to fight inflation, we must tackle the issue of price gouging.”
Andover News asked candidates how they plan to vote on the four ballot questions in this year’s election and why.
Question 1, which would add an additional tax on income over $1 million? Yes
“People earning more than $1million a year generally pay a lower percentage of tax than the rest of us. With this ballot question, they will only pay 4% more on the amount over $1 million. This would affect less than 1% of the Massachusetts population, but would result in $2 billion annually which will be spent on much-needed investments in education and transportation. For people who sell their homes, they only pay taxes on the difference between their purchase price and the sale price; this is unlikely to be above $1 million, unless they have multi-million dollar homes.”
Question 2, which would add regulation for dental insurers? Yes
“I have spoken to local dentists and constituents who support this legislation. Medical insurance has long been required to pay 85-88% of their revenue out in claims; it’s about time that dental insurance is held to a similar standard at 83%.”
Question 3, which would expand the availability of liquor licenses in Massachusetts? Undecided
“I am still researching this question.”
Question 4, which would allow Massachusetts residents who cannot provide proof of lawful presence in the United States to obtain a driver’s license or permit if they meet the other requirements for doing so? Yes
“I supported this in the legislature because it helps keep the roads safer, by giving all people who wish to drive in Massachusetts a pathway to a license. They must pass the road tests, understand the road rules, and purchase insurance like the rest of us. This will cut down on unlicensed, uninsured drivers and reduce hit and run incidents, which is why law enforcement supports the measure. It will also reduce the worker shortage by allowing immigrants to legally drive to work.”
Anything else voters should know about you and your campaign?
“I am happy to talk to any constituent about any issue that matters to them. I look forward to learning about issues that I am unfamiliar with. I will do the research, speak with experts, and work hard to find solutions to the most difficult problems, whether they affect one constituent or the entire Commonwealth.
“If voters have any questions, they can visit my website https://www.votetram.com/, or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am always happy to share my reasons for the positions I have taken on important issues.”