From Judi Walker, Aug. 22, 2016: The fight against the addiction epidemic in Somerville is a true community effort. We all have a role to play in ending the overdoses, reversing the stigma and supporting those struggling with addiction or in recovery. Our elected leaders must be a part of these efforts, and in this election season it’s important to support the people who have shown that they are personally invested in this fight. I know state Rep. Tim Toomey is one of those people.

LetterIn 2014, I helped organize Somerville Overcoming Addiction as a response to the spike in overdoses in our community. I had witnessed how the stigma associated with addiction was keeping people from seeking the help they so desperately needed, and I began working alongside other SOA members to change that. Through our many community events, vigils and celebrations, SOA has worked to put a human face on the problem of addiction in Somerville and helped people find the strength that exists within themselves to acknowledge and address this disease. Addiction is a deeply personal and often very painful issue for many, and while others may find it easier to do something else with their time, Tim has always been there for us. As a mother of a son who has lived this struggle, I can’t stress enough how important it is for us to know that community leaders like Tim are with us in this fight.

It’s also important to acknowledge that Tim is not just with us in the community, but he’s also with us in the work that he does on Beacon Hill. He is fighting for more resources and treatment beds, as well as for laws that will help prevent opiate addiction before it starts. He’s helped pass a law that is holding the people who traffic fentanyl accountable. And although we know that fentanyl has been responsible for two-thirds of Massachusetts overdose deaths this year so far, Tim has been criticized for that vote in this election. He needs our support, and I’m proud to stand with him, just as he stands with us. I hope that all of my friends and neighbors will get out the vote for Tim at the Democratic primary Sept. 8.