On Tuesday, voters in the 13th Suffolk District will go to the polls to pick a new state representative to fill the vacancy left when now-Mayor Martin J. Walsh left the Legislature. Technically, voters will be choosing one Democrat from a five-person field to be the party’s nominee in a final election set for April 1. But since there is no Republican or third-party candidate in this special election, Tuesday’s outcome will be decisive.
There are five high quality choices on the ballot, including four people who have never before run for public office. It’s a strong field that includes accomplished and seasoned civic activists, attorneys, an educator, and a mix of lifelong, as well as newer, residents of Dorchester. The strength and depth of the field says good things about the district’s civic and political health.
Ideally, the next state representative should carry with him a toolbox that reflects the complexities of the job of a legislator. He should have a back-of-the-hand knowledge of the villages, squares, and parishes that make up this eastern side of Dorchester. Critically, he should have a keen understanding of state government and connections inside the State House to get things done. He should be able to influence big-ticket budget issues as well as the more pedestrian quality-of-life matters that cross the desk of lawmakers daily.
Dan Hunt stands out as the best choice on Tuesday because he can employ his impressive Beacon Hill resume from Day One to have an impact for the 13th Suffolk and for all of Dorchester. The Reporter is pleased to endorse his candidacy.
The 33-year-old attorney is well suited to assume the duties of a state lawmaker. He hails from a family with deep roots in Dorchester’s civic and political circles. Hunt, however, has carved out his own impressive career path in state government, building a resume that will no doubt make him an effective advocate for constituents once in office. He has worked for the state’s School Building Authority where he developed an expertise in how the state pays for and manages large-scale projects. Most recently, he has been a top-level liaison for the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), the state agency responsible for local parks, bridges, and roadways. Over the last three years, he has been the person whom other elected officials have called to get things done at the DCR.
The new representative will most likely be seated in mid-April with just a few weeks to prepare for important votes on state budget matters that will have impacts for years to come. Hunt’s intimate understanding of the process and of the people within the Patrick administration will make him an outstanding asset in the Dorchester delegation, especially one that needs to replace a lawmaker with the experience and gravitas of Marty Walsh.
Dan Hunt hails from a Neponset family that has been contributing positively to this community for generations. His father, Jim Hunt II, is a nationally respected leader in the community health center movement and an expert in health care finance. His brother, Jim Hunt III, served ably as Mayor Tom Menino’s chief of energy and environment and is a leading voice on green innovation. His mom, Jean, is a veteran nurse. He will be able to draw on a deep bench of know-how and experience – including his own – as he navigates complex policy matters that will face the new state rep from the 13th Suffolk.
Dan Hunt is well prepared to step into the big shoes left by Mayor Walsh. Among a good field of contenders, he is the best choice before the district’s voters next Tuesday.
– Bill Forry