Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Massachusetts Democrats will have the opportunity on March 5 to renominate President Joe Biden and elect local Democratic state, ward and town committee members. I’m Justin Klekota, your Democratic state committeeman, and it’s been an honor representing the 2nd Middlesex District including Somerville, Medford, Cambridge and Winchester. I am the first member of the LGBTQIA+ community to win this seat. Together, we organized dozens of phone banks, drawing hundreds of volunteers for Biden-Harris and Senate Democrats, knocked thousands of doors and advocated successfully for climate and mail-in voting legislation that is now law.

This year, the stakes are higher: My opponent Rand Wilson is running on a divisive and discriminatory platform to eliminate half of the State Democratic Party by targeting “Black, Hispanic, LGBTQ+, disabled, labor, senior, veteran, French- and Portuguese-speaking and youth” members elected to the Democratic State Committee to increase diversity, including many serving more than 20 years.

After months of attacks by Wilson, most recently in his 2023 State Democratic Convention resolution near-unanimously rejected in subcommittee, I feel compelled to defend my state committee colleagues and make it clear the Democratic party must remain the “big tent” embracing diversity if we are to defeat Maga Republicans.

Contrary to the claims in Wilson’s failed resolution and platform published on Medium, every member of the Democratic State Committee is democratically elected by the presidential primary ballot, at a caucus or by the committee itself: No members are “appointed.” Wilson’s claims that Diversity “add-on state committee members are not elected from or held accountable to the constituency groups they purport to represent” and that “they are not nominated by the Afro-American, disabled or LGBTQ+ or other constituencies that they are purported to represent” reflect a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of diversity in our party.

People of color, LGBTQ+ and disabled members are elected as equal partners to represent the entire party: not elected to represent only their race, orientation or disability, as Wilson suggests. Wilson suggesting that African-American, LGBTQ+ or disabled persons be elected only by members of their race, orientation or disability is discriminatory: Segregating voters by race, disability and orientation is undemocratic and contrary to our values as Democrats.

“One person, one vote” is our core mission as Democrats: Only allowing people to vote for their race, disability or orientation diminishes everyone and fractures the Democratic coalition that made history by uniting to elect Deval Patrick, Maura Healey, Barack Obama, Biden-Harris and many others.

Why would anyone choose this divisive platform? Wilson believes his platform appeals to “young adults and a growing number of working-class voters being seduced by the far right.” Our Democratic Party deserves better.

On March 5, if you believe in party strength through diversity and oppose discrimination and segregation, I ask for your vote. Being a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, I understand the importance of diversity and inclusion: It’s about fairness, and it’s our path to victory in 2024.

Justin Klekota, Conwell Avenue, Somerville

The writer is a Democratic state committeeman in the 2nd Middlesex District.