An exclusive interview with openly gay candidate
By: Christine Nicco/TRT Reporter—
FRAMINGHAM, Mass.—Jack Patrick Lewis is no stranger to the LGBT community. Widely known as the Executive Director of OUT MetroWest, an organization dedicated to supporting the well-being of GLBTQ teens in the Boston MetroWest area, the social justice advocate is now seeking the 7th Middlesex District’s State Representative seat this year.
In an exclusive interview with The Rainbow Times, Lewis explains his positions on the issues to move MetroWest ahead, particularly addressing what he says are the critical needs of this diverse community.
TRT: You’re quoted as saying “We need progressive leadership to make bold investments in our communities, to create and promote innovation in our schools, and to represent the diverse needs of MetroWest.” What types of bold investments are you referring to? What are the diverse needs?
JPL: My husband and I made the intentional choice to move to Framingham because it was the kind of community we wanted to raise a family. Framingham, and the larger MetroWest region, is racially, ethnically, and socio-economically diverse and exists as a truly global community. Our hope is to raise our son to be a global citizen, understanding the complexities and beauty of living in a diverse world.
We also need a state representative who will fight to innovate our schools, invest in our communities, and ensure a common and promising future for the district. Too many children in our schools face discrimination and public accommodations protections need to be passed immediately. It’s impossible to innovate education if children do not first feel safe.
If last winter showed us anything, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) needs 21st century renovations and not 20th century Band-Aids. Some trains still in operation are older than me, and the residents of our Commonwealth deserve to have dependable a public transportation network that works rain or shine, in the snow or heat. Trains run on time in Shanghai, Tokyo, and Paris, and Massachusetts can’t be caught treading water in yesterday while the rest of the world is driving full-speed into tomorrow.
Massachusetts leads the way on green energy production and Beacon Hill must continue to incentivize solar and wind energy production. The solar industry alone in Massachusetts employs 15,000 residents, making it an essential component of our green energy success. As a state representative, I will fight for sustained [energy] and new incentives for families and businesses to become more energy efficient and independent.
Lastly, I will continue Rep. Tom Sannicandro’s fight to ensuring that our state budget fully funds our Commonwealth’s programs for the disability community. We should not balance the state’s budget at the expense of any community, and the disability community deserves a State Representative that will advocate with them on Beacon Hill.
Q: How has being the executive director of OUT MetroWest prepared you to be a state representative?
A: I have had the opportunity to connect with area community leaders, work with local teachers, and serve hundreds of the areas youth. I will represent the needs of all my constituents, and for towns like Framingham and Ashland, that means understanding that our towns’ diversity should be celebrated, not ignored, or worse—subjugated.
Q: You were also an ordained minister for the UU, of which you advocated on social justice issues. What social justice issues are important to you?
A: I am an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ but have served in a Unitarian Universalist context. Social and economic justice is a cornerstone of each community’s faith. My background in ministry influences my decision-making and impassions me to work towards a world where everyone can thrive and no one gets left behind. There is a great intersectionality between all social and economic justice issues. At this time, I am most committed to fighting for equality under the law and celebration of diversity, the expansion of renewable energy production, and preservation and expansion of services for the disabilities community.
Q: Is the 7th Middlesex District ready for an openly gay man to fill the vacant seat left by Rep. Tom Sannicandro?
A: I am happily married to my husband whom I met eight years ago. Two years ago, we adopted our son through the DCF foster care system. Our family is very much like many families in the district and our values mirror those of our diverse neighbors. It is 2016 and the world has changed a great deal in the last decade. Our state has had out state representatives from both parties and our state’s attorney general is also out. I am confident that the gender of my spouse is not something that will prevent me from being elected. Instead, I feel that my family only contributes to the celebrated diversity that exists within our towns.
Q: What is the most pressing issue right now for the district?
A: Among the pressing issues facing the district and Commonwealth is the opioid crisis. This crisis is not new and I am grateful that the conversation on this topic is shifting. This crisis is not something that only affects a small group of people, and we as a society have a responsibility to respond with compassion. I am fully in favor of revisiting mandatory sentences so that the focus can be redefined around treatment and care. I am also in favor of limiting access to narcotics to a limited day prescription and [having] greater access to the lifesaving drug, Narcan, in our schools and greater community. As many of us know firsthand, that crisis also affects the LGBTQ community disproportionately. As a state representative, I will fight the stigma that comes with conversations surrounding drug use.
Q: Why are you the right choice for the residents of the 7th Middlesex District?
A: It would be an honor to be elected to represent the residents of the 7th Middlesex District. As their representative, I pledge to make sure that their voices are heard every day on Beacon Hill. In my experiences as a local non-profit leader, ordained minister, and parent, I have had the opportunity to interact with the larger community, and I feel I am the most qualified candidate to ensure that Framingham and Ashland continue to thrive.
Lewis resides with his husband Brent and their son Josiah in Framingham.
The Democratic primary will take place on Sept. 8, leading to the general election on November 8. For more information on Jack Patrick Lewis and his campaign, connect on FaceBook at Facebook.com/jackpatricklewis.