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Tuitt seeks to become 7th Suffolk Rep.

Jule Pattison-Gordon
Tuitt seeks to become 7th Suffolk Rep.
Marydith Tuitt (Photo: Photo: Courtesy of the Marydith Tuitt campaign)

Marydith Tuitt is the chief of staff to Rep. Gloria Fox and one of three Democrats vying to take up the mantle of Seventh Suffolk district rep when Fox steps down this year. Fox has spent more than 30 years in the position.

Tuitt was born in the British West Indies Island of Montserrat and is a current Roxbury resident, moving to the neighborhood from Dorchester last year. She attended Boston Technical High School before serving 14 years in the U.S. Navy as a Navy Aviation Machinist’s Mate. Tuitt later returned to Boston to study at East Coast Aero Tech, now a part of the National Aviation Academy, based at Hanscom Field. She has five brothers and two children, a son and a daughter, both in their 20s.

In the campaign, Tuitt’s competition is Chynah Tyler, former aide to Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, and Monica Cannon, community liaison for Roca, an organization that works to keep at-risk, court-involved youth out of jail. The race will be decided at the Democratic primary this September 8.

The Seventh Suffolk District extends from Audubon Circle near Boston University to parts of Back Bay, the Fenway and Roxbury.

Tuitt spoke to the Banner about her goals in office, plans to achieve them and entry into politics.

What do you hope to accomplish in office?

Marydith Tuitt: We have to talk about the youth piece and youth development, which encompasses education and state of the art school systems.

We tend to want to teach young boys and girls as if they’re all on the same learning curve, and they’re not. Even adults learn differently. We should be looking at that from early on.

How do we incentivize our young people to be really excited about education? Part of that is, we have to look at how our school curriculums are set. We have an era of technology. Our young people should have laptops in the school system or tablets and … up-to-date books. We have young people interested in science and tech and we don’t have science labs in all schools, tech labs in all schools. We don’t even have civics in the schools anymore. We haven’t built any new school buildings in over 30 years.

What does it take to achieve this?

MT: The dollars are not there — revenue is something we need to look at. We did lower our taxes a few years back, maybe we need to streamline them back — freeze it at this and stop lowering them.

We had a ballot question about the gas tax. A lot of people around the commonwealth didn’t see the need for those dollars … but we do [need them]. There are transportation issues in Western Mass. and Central Mass. and Eastern Mass.

If we have to, [we should] revisit and relook at some of our taxes that we have and level it out. The have-nots should not be struggling to pay their taxes while the haves are being cushy with what they get taxed on. If your tax bracket is a million dollars and up, your tax bracket should be little higher than those who are $20,000 and under.

Priorities in office: Economic development

MT: My number one focus is stabilization: Economic development, focusing on development projects in the district. The most open, buildable parcels of land are in the Seventh Suffolk.

We have many developments going on now and more that are slated. We want to ensure job access, getting people from the district and city into the jobs and maintaining those jobs even after development is done. That opens door for sustainable wages and income.

We can’t just put people into a training program and one-stop-shop career advancement and [then] not help them along the way. If you’re going to a training program and you’ve gotten a job, do you need daycare? Do you need assistance? How is your transportation to and from work until you’re able to get those dollars that are going to pay you? Sometimes training programs are not paid. If we’re going to work on programs that are opening access, we need to have programs to assist you to sustain that training and sustain you after you get started.

Priorities in office: Housing stabilization

MT: Part of the housing stabilization piece I want to focus on is, how do we assist people in being landowners in the district?

[One idea, she said: Create rent-to-own programs with developers.]

I’ve had conversations with developers and the Department of Neighborhood Development. … Where I’m at right now is having some talks and figuring out how we can make it work.

As one of 160 House members, how can you bring about the achievements you want?

MT: There are 160 people fighting for different districts across the commonwealth, and everyone is concerned about their district. Part of how you get things accomplished, I’ve learned from my 15 years in the building, is that you build alliances. In the long run, everything you work on helps the commonwealth. If you’re able to work together and achieve things together, you’re able to work for your district, also.

I’m able to hit the ground running. I already know how the building works, and I’ll be able to create relationships with veterans and at the same time with my freshmen class members once I get in there. You have to be able to have alliances with like-minded — and even not like-minded — colleagues to be able to work together and get things accomplished.

On the web

Visit Tuitt’s campaign website: www.marytuitt.com

What in your background has prepared you for this job?

MT: I’ve been working with Rep. Fox since 1999. [This includes] scheduling events … working on the budget, budget language, writing her legislation and policies that she’s worked on over the years, training interns. … [Also] my knowledge of the building and experience of the building; knowing how to negotiate on her behalf and with other elected officials in the building and being able to speak on behalf of organizations that have come in and asked for support and topics, be it health care, HIV/AIDS or seniors.

[Rep. Fox] sat on the Ways and Means Committee the entire time I’ve worked with her. I know how Ways and Means works and how we do the budget. That’s going to be a plus to me.

How and why did you first become involved in politics?

MT: I used to be that person on the street that if there was something that needed to be done in the neighborhood — a streetlight out — I’d call and complain to the elected official. I knew every elected official in the area.

One of the reasons why I got involved in politics, other than being an assistant to Rep. Fox and getting that experience, was really feeling connected to the constituents we were helping and working with in her office. I’ve met single mothers who’ve raised their children like I have and have felt a connection with some of the struggles that they’ve gone through. … That’s what’s really charged me more: being able to help people.

What other activism or involvements do you have in the 7th Suffolk District?

MT: I also sit on the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women. My focus has not just been on basic women’s issues, but also on women of color and disparities that we experience. I also sit on the Boston Veterans Advisory Council as a U.S. Navy vet.

[Other involvements include associations in the Caribbean community, and, in the past with youth groups, she said.]