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Kayyem: Not A Typical Candidate

By Michael F. Cotter, Simon M. Thompson, and Jordan T. Weiers

In a recent article, The Crimson framed the 2014 Massachusetts gubernatorial election as a two-way race between Martha M. Coakley and Steve Grossman. The Cambridge Ward Eight Democratic caucus on Feb. 9, which encompassed all but one of Harvard’s 12 Houses, told a different story, however: Not a single delegate pledged to either Coakley or Grossman was elected, and instead, Harvard students registered as Democrats helped lead Juliette N. Kayyem ’91 to victory, sweeping all six of the delegates at stake.

While The Crimson labeled Coakley and Grossman as frontrunners, neither of the two campaigns has inspired the progressive Democratic activism on campus Kayyem has—no Harvard undergraduates showed up to caucus for either Coakley or Grossman, and we have seen virtually no grassroots campus organizing on their behalves.

Kayyem has excited campus progressives with her advocacy for issues too often left by the wayside—climate change and criminal justice reform, to name two. Harvard students of various political stripes and from a wide range of activist circles are excited about Kayyem, with the caucus results demonstrating that the depth of support for her ideas runs deep. The 2014 gubernatorial race is by no stretch of the imagination a two-way contest. In fact, here at Harvard, it might as well be a one-way race.

Every candidate in the race may profess to be the one most ready to tackle the challenges facing Massachusetts, but Kayyem has demonstrated again and again her courage to discuss issues that other candidates would prefer to ignore. And she has the experience and skills necessary to deliver results if elected.

Kayyem has distinguished herself from her opponents when it comes climate change in particular. Kayyem’s energy plan not only acknowledges the reality of climate change, but also argues that climate change presents an opportunity for Massachusetts to get ahead of the pack in creating sustainable energy solutions for the future. To accomplish this goal, she advocates for the creation of a public “Green Bank” to “incentivize private investment in a clean energy infrastructure.”

Kayyem’s plan for Massachusetts also confronts the extraordinary inequities in the criminal justice system. Kayyem recognizes that a system built on high rates of incarceration and recidivism is far more costly, socially and fiscally, than one focused on successful reintegration to society of prisoners upon release. She advocates for investment in treatment, prevention, and reintegration programs as well as for reforms to drug sentencing. Kayyem has argued that we should “put fewer people into jail for nonviolent crimes.” Instead, she believes that the goals of the justice system in these cases should be successful rehabilitation and reintegration—not your typical politicial rhetoric.

But it’s not just innovative ideas that make Kayyem stand out—she also has the wide-ranging and diverse executive experience necessary to turn this talk into results. A graduate of Harvard College and a former member of the Institute of Politics Student Advisory Committee, Kayyem has led a life marked by her devotion to public service. Early in her career, she worked as a civil rights attorney in the Department of Justice, litigating cases involving the rights of children. Kayyem then served in Governor Deval Patrick’s administration as a homeland security adviser. In this role, she oversaw the 8,000-member Massachusetts National Guard and the state’s strategic security planning.

Later, as Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in the Obama administration, Kayyem supervised the cleanup of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, working closely with the governors of affected states. The Coast Guard awarded her their highest civilian honor for her work. Responsible for coordinating planning between the federal government and all of its state and local partners, Kayyem worked on a wide range of issues. She has proven herself as an adept and smart leader who is capable of bringing people together from the community, government, and private sector to accomplish a common goal.

As college students and young people, we have an interest in supporting responsible leaders who have creative solutions to longstanding problems and the acumen to carry them through. That’s why we support Juliette and share her vision for the future of Massachusetts.

This coming November, for the first time since 2002, Deval L. Patrick ’78 will not be on the ballot as a candidate. We must continue the progress of the Patrick administration. We can’t step back now. Beacon Hill needs a courageous leader, and Juliette Kayyem—the only candidate focused on real progressive reforms and challenging the status quo on issues that affect the most marginalized—is the best candidate for the job.

This Saturday registered Democrats living in a freshman dorm or Adams House will be eligible to attend the Ward Seven caucus. Please consider joining us in caucusing for Kayyem and demonstrating that the contest for governor is anything but a two-way race.

Michael F. Cotter 14, a Crimson editorial chair emeritus, is a history concentrator in Winthrop House. Simon M. Thompson 14 is a government concentrator in Pforzheimer House. Jordan T. Weiers 16 is a social studies concentrator in Winthrop House.

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