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Voters in 7th Congressional District must choose wisely

Melvin B. Miller
Voters in 7th Congressional District must choose wisely
“I’m 100 percent for diversity, but you still have to get stuff done.”

Sophisticated citizens always go to the polls on Election Day and they vote for the candidate they believe is most likely to serve their interests. When these interests are complex it becomes more difficult for some voters to decide how to vote. This is a problem that some citizens now confront in the election for the representative to Congress from the 7th District.

The incumbent Michael Capuano is running for re-election against Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley. Capuano, the former mayor of Somerville, was first elected to serve in Congress in 1999. Ayanna Pressley has served as Boston City Councilor since 2009.

The Sept. 4 election is for the Democratic Party primary. Whoever wins is likely to prevail in November. Consequently, the sophisticated voter must treat the September election as decisive. Since the candidates hold similar positions on the political issues, voters must decide whether the fact that Pressley is a woman and is black is sufficient to outweigh Capuano’s record of achievement.

Capuano has used his seniority in Congress to benefit the 7th District, which now includes parts of Boston, including Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan, Chelsea, Everett, Randolph, Somerville, and parts of Cambridge and parts of Milton.

As one of the founders of the House Caucus on Community Health Centers, Capuano has secured federal funding to help renovate community health centers and improve services.

An advocate of more affordable housing, he helped to obtain a $30 million grant to rebuild the Whittier Street Housing Development. He also authored a law to protect tenants in foreclosed homes from immediate eviction.

As a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, he was able to secure $20 million to upgrade Ruggles Station in Roxbury, and funds to upgrade Melnea Cass Boulevard. He also led efforts to expand the Fairmount Line for Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan and Hyde Park by adding six new stations. He also donated $53,000 from his campaign funds to provide free fares for two weeks to increase the ridership rate.

Capuano’s constant efforts to protect civil rights and end racial discrimination have earned him a 100 percent rating from the NAACP and the Human Rights Campaign. He has been endorsed by the Congressional Black Caucus PAC, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus BOLD PAC, Governor Deval Patrick, and Congressman John Lewis, the legendary leader of the Civil Rights Movement.

With his seniority, Capuano will undoubtedly become chairman of a congressional committee if the Democrats become the majority party in the House this November.

Unfortunately, the Boston City Council lacks the power equivalent to Congress to enable members to develop substantial government projects. Undoubtedly, if given an opportunity, Pressley would do well in Congress over time. It’s up to the sophisticated voter to determine whether it’s prudent to sacrifice the performance already provided by Capuano for perceived racial or gender progress.