Testimony on An Act Supporting Working Parents Running for Public Office (S408/H639)
Updated: Sep 27, 2019
Dear Chairs Lawn and Finegold,
Thank you for the opportunity to testify today on S.408 and H.639, An Act Supporting Working Parents Running for Public Office. In 2018, I ran for office for the first time. I would have run for local office sooner, but my first priority was ensuring that my elementary-school aged foster children were being cared for. As my husband and I both held full-time jobs, we relied heavily on after-school programs run by organizations like the YMCA, yet I still struggled to handle doctors’ appointments, playdates, and activities. Because of the special restrictions placed on caretakers of children in the foster system, it was not until 2017, when my parents moved to Framingham, that I could even spend a night out with my husband.
Without the constant helping hands of my parents, I could not dream of running for office. Even with my husband’s steady 8-6 job, we needed someone to get the children off the bus every day starting at 3pm, followed by a constant stream of taking them from activity to activity. This is the reality of all parents in 2019. Even if our children had stayed in after care programs, we would have to pick them up by exactly 6pm or face a massive fine.
Running for office, as everyone at the State House knows, is a massive commitment. Whether you are running for library trustee or President of the United States, it requires your full attention, commitment, and most importantly, time. Unfortunately, not all campaign events are child-friendly. In fact, most events are not. Even with four adults and two children, we juggled schedules that needed to be tweaked daily. I cannot imagine doing it without significant help from my family. Unfortunately, not all candidates are able to rely on nearby relatives or friends for childcare. Instead, they need to hire help. Presently, in my city of Framingham, local help is running $25/hour per child for morning and evening childcare. This is a massive financial barrier parents face when running for office.
We should not be hindering parents from participating in our democracy. Instead, we need to allow parents to use campaign funds to pay for childcare. This change would expand the pool of potential candidates in elections across the Commonwealth and likely result in positive policy change thanks to the personal experience these elected would then bring to the table.
Maria D. Robinson
6th MIDDLESEX DISTRICT