Just a reminder that there is an important special election in progress to choose the person who will replace Scott Brown as Wayland's State Senator on Beacon Hill. The Democratic primary is this coming Tuesday, April 13th. The general election will be on Tuesday, May 11th.There are two Democrats in the primary: Dr. Peter Smulowitz (of Needham) and Needham State Representative Lida Harkins. I am supporting Smulowitz. But I urge all primary voters to judge for yourselves by reading these candidates' bios (that I have pasted below -- taken unedited from their websites), or by visiting their websites: www.lidaharkins.com or www.petersmulowitz.com .

I am enthusiastically supporting Peter Smulowitz for this seat because Peter is not your typical politician. He is an emergency room physician. He is deeply engaged in his community. He is running to give us back our voice in government and to push for progress on the key challenges of our day: bringing good jobs to our district and building our economy; cutting the cost of health care; improving our schools; supporting local aid to ease the burden on our communities and homeowners; and preserving our environment through support for clean and renewable energy resources. Smulowitz is young, intelligent, and passionate about service. I think of him as being very much in the mold of our State Rep. Tom Conroy, in his native abilities and his inclination to study issues from all sides, grasp the essence and the details quickly and work to bring together people and resources to solve problems constructively and in new and better ways. I believe Smulowitz will be a fresh and effective voice as our State Senator.

If you find Peter Smulowitz's candidacy compelling, you can make a contribution to his election effort through his website or here: http://www.actblue.com/page/supportsmulowitz

The winner of this coming Tuesday's Democratic primary will face Wrenthem Republican Representative (and funeral home director) Richard Roth.

I am happy to try to address any questions about the race.

Thanks,

Jon.

Lida Harkins was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, to a General Motors autoworker, Paul McMahon, and an executive assistant, Lida McMahon. She was raised in Natick, MA where she attended a local elementary school. Harkins graduated from Marian High School in Framingham, MA, attended Regis College where she was awarded a degree in Psychology, and then earned a graduate degree from Boston College’s Program of Women in Politics and Government. She was the program’s first graduate to be elected to the Massachusetts General Court.

After having served as an elementary school teacher, Harkins was elected to the Needham School Committee. She served for six years while also directing a collaborative vocational training program for 13 towns in the Metrowest region. She has served on the Board of Directors for the Charles River Association for Retarded Citizens and is the Chair of the Needham Democratic Town Committee. She was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1988 and has since served the 13th Norfolk District.

During her tenure at the State House, Harkins has been devoted to improving public education, advancing equal rights for women and minorities, expanding access to healthcare for Massachusetts residents, and advocating for strengthened labor conditions. Her leadership has helped save municipalities billions of dollars, most notably in her role to reform the school building construction financing program and through the restructuring of special education reimbursement law.

Lida Harkins has lived in Needham, MA for 38 years, and has 3 children who were educated in the Needham Public School system. Two of her children currently reside in Needham and continue to be active in the community and school system. In her spare time, Representative Harkins enjoys spending time with her 10 grandchildren, traveling, and reading. Harkins also enjoys visiting Maine with her family during the summer.

Peter Smulowitz: Thank you for taking the time to learn more about Dr. Peter Smulowitz. Peter is an emergency physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and its community partner, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital – Needham. As a physician, health policy expert, and engaged member of his community Peter has spent his career fighting for his patients and for the health of communities and families. Peter is determined to fight for the best interests of Massachusetts residents, families, and businesses.

Peter is originally from California, where he attended public schools. He graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Biology and then attended medical school at the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine. Peter went on to earn a Masters Degree in Public Health from Harvard. Peter has lived in Massachusetts since starting his residency in Emergency Medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in 2003. He and his wife Marcy live in the great town of Needham.

Peter’s interest in health care policy and government service began during a summer spent volunteering in Senator Edward Kennedy’s Washington, D.C. office in 1998. After earning his Masters in health policy, he then served from 2006-2007 as a health policy fellow for the Massachusetts State Senate Committee on Health Care Financing. In that position, he wrote a policy brief, “Restoring Value and Trust in our Health Care System: Achieving Real Medical Liability Reform with an Early Disclosure and Compensation Program,” that has been influential in advancing patient safety and liability reform in Massachusetts, including in a bill introduced by Senator Robert O’Leary Peter’s report is available here.

In his professional work, Peter currently serves as the co-chair of the Governmental Affairs Committee for the Massachusetts College of Emergency Physicians (MACEP). He works with both legislators and regulatory agencies to improve the conditions and systems in emergency departments across Massachusetts. He collaborated with State Senator James Timilty to file “An Act to Improve Access to Emergency Care,” which prompted DPH to take firm actions towards reducing crowding in our emergency department. He is currently working on behalf of MACEP to encourage passage of "Act Act Relative to Pandemic and Disaster Preparation and Response in the Commonwealth," an essential step to ensuring Massachusetts is adequately prepared for a pandemic or other disaster.

Peter has also played an active role in the local community. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Needham Opportunities, Inc., an organization involved in the development of affordable housing in Needham. He is also a member of the Green Needham Collaborative. With both organizations, he is working to bring affordable, energy efficient housing developments to Needham and meet the requirements to make Needham a Green Community. He was elected to Town Meeting in Needham in 2008, and is an advocate for a new senior center to meet the needs of the town’s seniors while conserving Greene’s Field, part of the remaining open park and athletic field space in downtown Needham.

Peter believes in the fundamental relationship between protecting our environment and spurring job growth, and as State Senator will advance the clean energy sector as a key to building our state’s economy for the future. To start, the immediate institution of home weatherization and the associated job training can put local people back to work now. Then, tightening our efficiency standards, setting a price on carbon emissions, and promoting expanded investment in clean energy technologies will drive forward a long-term expansion of clean energy jobs.

Peter also was a founding member of the Needham for Obama group and is an active participant in Yes We Can Needham, a voice and platform for progressive ideas in Massachusetts. He writes a regular column for the Boston.com Needham page, where he shares his ideas about community issues as well as broader issues like health care in Massachusetts.

Peter speaks regularly both locally and nationwide on topics related to health reform and health policy, and during 2009 he served as the Massachusetts State Director for Doctors for America, working to put the energy of physicians behind the national push for health reform.