Published February 28, 2020



MELROSE — Since Kate Lipper-Garabedian and Brandon Reid were the people’s choices to square off in Tuesday’s special election for the vacant state House of Representatives seat, the month-long campaign to succeed Paul Brodeur has been about as quiet as possible.

Not a peep — or a candidates’ forum — to be heard.

So we decided to brush off answers the candidates gave back in the days leading up to the February 4 special primary election for the 32nd Middlesex seat, which encompasses all of Melrose, three of Wakefield’s seven precincts and one precinct in the city of Malden.

Mark Sardella of our sister paper the Wakefield Daily Item asked the hopefuls to talk about what they see as the most important issue facing the district and how they would address it if elected.

Republican Brandon Reid, a Grove Street resident and professional counselor, waged a write-in campaign during the special primary and got the number of votes needed to win his party’s nomination to go on to next week’s election.

 Lipper-Garabedian has been a Melrose City Councilor-at-Large since January 2018. After graduating from Harvard Law School, she worked as a judicial clerk in the federal courts and as a consultant for states, school districts, colleges, and universities, and nonprofit organizations. She is currently Chief Legal Counsel at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Education.

In the Democratic Party primary, Lipper-Garabedian handily dispatched Wakefield’s Ann McGonigle Santos and Malden’s Mat Helman.

The candidates shared their ideas on the most pressing issues facing the district.

LIPPER-GARABEDIAN: In addition to public transportation and the climate crisis, continued state leadership in supporting public education is critical. I’m proud to have played a role in drafting and reviewing provisions of the recently enacted Student Opportunity Act, the law that updates our school funding formula with a commitment to invest $1.5 billion additional state dollars over the next seven years. The legislature must deliver on this commitment in the annual budgeting process. It also must ensure that districts have the resources and support necessary to develop plans that direct the extra dollars to effective use in the classroom, benefiting teachers and students, and that enhance student access to resources like guidance and psychological services. Further, education is not simply a K-12 proposition. As State Representative, I’ll prioritize issues of family access to quality early education; college affordability and protection for students and faculty, drawing on my work on the new Massachusetts statute and regulations addressing sudden college closures; and credentialing opportunities for mid-career adults eager to participate more fully in an inclusive innovation economy.

I am uniquely positioned to focus on public education at the State House, not only as a product of public schools and a Melrose Public School parent but also as someone who has dedicated my professional career to public education, first as a public school seventh-grade teacher and now as the Chief Legal Counsel at the Executive Office of Education. I also serve on the Massachusetts Safe and Supportive Schools Commission. I’m proud to be endorsed by Malden School Committee Member Adam Weldai, who represents the portion of Malden in the 32nd Middlesex District, and Melrose School Committee Members Jen McAndrew, John Obremski, and Jennifer Razi-Thomas.

To move effective policy and necessary state investment forward, I’ll draw on my experiences as a classroom teacher, a parent, and someone who has worked in the field of public education (early education through higher education) for more than 15 years. I’ll identify and partner with allies in the House to support and strengthen coalitions. I’ll work with municipal leaders, administrators, educators, and advocates to highlight best practices and innovative efforts. And I’ll remain mindful that the policy decisions we make will impact our students’ and teachers’ daily experiences. 

REID: I think if you asked this question to each individual in this district, you would get very different answers. This community faces multiple issues, and all of them are pressing. Among these issues, the financial health of this state and district must be examined, as reckless spending continues to be a problem. Quite frankly, a lot of taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars are being squandered. Transparency and accountability are lacking in state government and at the local level. As State Representative, I will ensure the effectiveness of existing state-run programs is measured, and make sure that every dollar is accounted for and being put to good use.

Other issues that must be addressed include improving transportation and infrastructure, revamping education where necessary (getting rid of MCAS testing is just one thing I’m advocating for), and better supporting seniors and veterans. There are many items that must be addressed, but I’ll refrain from writing a book in response to this question. Stay tuned.