CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM-
Prison should be reserved for people convicted of violent acts and serious property crimes. It should not be the destination for non-violent drug offenders, ie. those caught for drug use or possession. Ideally, drugs would be decriminalized.
The campaign believes marijuana is beneficial in combating the opioid crisis as is opening up the legal market. Question 4 , the Massachusetts ballot proposal for regulating and selling marijuana similarly to alcohol, is a first step towards needed reforms. More marijuana access is better than too little. Less criminal drug offenses are better than more.
Drug addiction is a mental disorder and should be treated as such. Our priority should be on treatment not punishment. Treatment should focus more on the individual rather than a strict regime. An addict’s “rock bottom” will be unique to each individual ,and their recovery should also be individually focused. Recovery and treatment efforts should be based on the patient’s talents and passions. Having a sense of purpose is vital to making better decisions.
Treatment centers should advocate for patients and help them find productive work before leaving treatment. The Statehouse should do more to hold job seminars in the state’s prisons, treatment centers, and homeless shelters.
We understand that it is neither practical nor moral to simply compel companies to hire former addicts. There is a perception, not without some merit, that addicts are a bad risk. Massachusetts should offer incentives to companies that hire people out of treatment or prison. Those incentives would balance the potential risk of hiring addicts.
For democracy to work, voters need more than one choice during elections. Also, policy should be guided by the will of the voters, not by lobbyist money.
Voters in Massachusetts need more than one party. They deserve more than two. One possible way to encourage additional candidates and parties is Ranked Choice Voting. This would allow voters to prioritize their votes by preference for different candidates giving third parties a legitimate chance at taking office. Ranked Choice Voting would help eliminate this idea of supporting the “lesser of two evils”.
Too often money does as much to drive elections and legislation as the people. More needs to be done to increase the disclosure of donations and limit their impact on Massachusetts politics.
At past events Aaron has referred to a recent public campaign financing law passed in Seattle, Washington. That bill, like many ballot initiatives, had several flaws. However, the goals of the law are goals shared by the campaign. Electoral reforms moving towards public financing are the cornerstone to progress in Massachusetts.
Debates and public discussions among candidates are very important at the local level. The more the better. Debates are important both as an electoral issue and for more government transparency.
GOVERNMENT TRANSPARENCY/ PERSONAL PRIVACY
Nothing is more important than bringing the voters closer to their government and making that government as accountable to them as possible.
Too much is happening behind closed doors resulting in policies not reflecting the desires of many Massachusetts voters. Documentation kept by executive agencies should be available for examination by voters. Public officials need to be as accessible to the people as possible.
– More access to government records
– More open meetings
– More public involvement
Third parties are one of the best ways to help bring about the government transparency required this day of age.
Government transparency goes hand and hand with personal privacy. In many aspects the government maintains more privacy than the individual. This is backwards and needs to change.
Somerville has over 75,000 recorded residents living in slightly more than 4 square miles, averaging out to over 15,000 people per mile. In addition to the needed residential space, Somerville needs to accomodate businesses. Put another way, space is at a premium and rent is high.
If elected, Aaron will work with the city to keep Somerville both livable and affordable. A component of this would be to encourage developers to include affordable housing for working adults.
Steve Revilak, Town Councilman in Arlington, and fellow Pirate wrote this about the campaign’s affordable housing efforts.
The evidence is clear: climate change is real. Confronting the issue will require working with and continuing the work of other officials while proposing new ideas.
Aaron James plans to propose installation of solar panels on our statehouse. This would allow Beacon Hill to lead by example and promote sustainable energy.
A simpler proposal is to put up warning signs on gas pumps. A simple warning like seen on cigarette packs, reminding people of the impact of fossil fuels on the environment.
The campaign stands with the LGBTQ community. Like almost everyone, Aaron has friends in the community and understands their constitutional rights are to be as protected as his own.
We support the public access bill that is currently being discussed on Beacon Hill. Less controversially, we plan to introduce a “null-gender” identifier option for state licenses and expand it to other forms.
It is important to continue to move forward with full equality in all regards.
Being part of an interracial relationship with his partner, Yvette Fitch makes questions of racial equality deeply personal to Aaron.
In recent months, current events have been the subject of many difficult conversations across the United States, as well as between Aaron and Yvette.
Aaron supports Black Lives Matter, and he understands why the term is important. He also believes that injustice affects about every community and at the core the issue at hand is abuse of power and social justice…which does affect some communities, like the African American, more so than others.
Somerville is years ahead of other parts of the US on race questions. The local police and the Mayor have been even-handed and diligent about connecting with the community. However, there is always work to be done on such complex questions.
In addition to training for police, race relations are a perfect example of an issue that could be mitigated by making public documents and records available.
As state representative Aaron plans to reach out to the African-American voters and to do what he can to bring more voters to the table.