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We Asked, They Answered: 4th District Candidates Vying For Kennedy's Seat Tell Us Why They're Running

Massachusetts' 4th Congressional District. (Screenshot of map via mapbox and govtrack.us)
Massachusetts' 4th Congressional District. (Screenshot of map via mapbox and govtrack.us)

Editor's Note: This post has been updated to reflect that in the Democratic race, Dave Cavell dropped out on Aug. 13 and Chris Zannetos suspended his campaign on Aug. 26, bringing the total number of Democrats running for the seat to seven. Notes about their campaigns' decisions were added above their names and answers in this post.


Nearly a dozen candidates — seven Democrats and two Republicans — are vying to represent the Massachusetts 4th Congressional District in 2021, which runs from the South Coast into Newton and parts of Brookline.

The 4th District is up for grabs because Rep. Joe Kennedy III is challenging incumbent Ed Markey for a seat in the U.S. Senate.

To get to know the 4th District candidates, WBUR asked each contender the same four questions. Their answers are published below, lightly edited for clarity, along with a brief bio.

The Republican Candidates

Julie Hall

Upon graduating from community college with an associates degree in 1978, Julie Hall joined the U.S. Air Force, where she rose to the rank of colonel over a 30-year career. She said the military was one of the only places she could think at the time where men and women received equal pay.

Julie Hall (Courtesy Hall campaign)
Julie Hall (Courtesy Hall campaign)

Hall lives in Attleboro, where she is a former city councilor.

Why are you running for office?

I’m running for Congress, because I'm an ordinary person who loves this country and believes in Us — the people who get up every day to work, take care of their families and fight to get ahead. We need someone who understands how to represent our best interests on Capitol Hill for a change, and the voters deserve a clear choice.

What makes you the best choice to serve the 4th District? 

I am less concerned with parties or labels, but more with our shared dreams and values; a safe community to raise our families, affordable services that are accessible to everyone, and a healthy economy with job opportunities to prosper. In addition to nine years of municipal governing, I served our nation for over 30 years. I have prepared myself well to serve our District in the United States Congress.

In your view, what are the top two problems or issues facing the 4th District and how are you going to address them? 

Rebuilding the economy is the priority. The federal response to the pandemic must be targeted, cost-effective, and get Americans back to work by removing cumbersome regulations and incentivizing job creation. When the economy is good, jobs are available, wages are higher, and life is better for everyone. I will propose legislation that will strengthen job creation and make rapid economic recovery our number one priority.

I will protect working families. Congress looks to them to fund their programs with higher taxes, new fees, and higher prices. Our tax code should reward our families’ success through hard work, sound investing, and prudent spending with lower taxes, credits, and deductions. I will oppose programs that take our hard-earned money and work to reduce wasteful spending.

What would you be doing right now if you weren’t running for office, and how does that tie in to your mission to serve the people of Massachusetts in Congress? 

I would be appealing to Governor Baker to consider me as the next secretary of veterans services for the commonwealth. I would be the first appointed female veteran secretary of the commonwealth. It would be a great honor and very rewarding to more directly use my legislative, medical administration, and leadership experience to serve the veterans of this State. Women veterans in particular are now aging through the system. They require special services our Veterans Administration hospitals are not yet equipped to provide. I would lobby our Congressional representatives to provide funding to contract providers to the VA that specialize in women’s healthcare issues. I would look for innovative ways to provide housing for our homeless veterans.


David Rosa

David Rosa is a retired Defense Department employee, and a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and the Massachusetts Army National Guard.

David Rosa (Courtesy of the Rosa campaign)
David Rosa (Courtesy of the Rosa campaign)

Staunchly anti-abortion and pro-Second Amendment, Rosa is also a vocal supporter of President Trump. In a previous run for the 4th District," his platform centered on fears related to global migration, and he called for stricter immigration policies.

He lives in Dighton, where he is a parks and recreation committee member.

Why are you running for office?

To promote safety and security, economic prosperity, affordable health care, and advocate for achievable environmental policy. Radical positions at this time will only serve to distract us from dealing effectively with the COVID-19 challenge; create more social unrest and division. Inspired by the policies promoted by Presidents John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, I will work for change where needed and prosperity where achievable.

What makes you the best choice to serve the 4th District? 

My experience in civilian and military life has equipped and prepared me to deal effectively and humanely with economic and social policy. Having been directly responsible in bringing multi-billion dollar programs to a successful conclusion, it was my privilege to work side by side with a broad spectrum of people — professionals committed to success. These efforts were a good buy for taxpayers, great employment for many in Massachusetts and very importantly, provided effective systems for our military.

In your view, what are the top two problems or issues facing the 4th District and how are you going to address them?

Safety and economic development. Voters want to feel safe in their homes, on their commute to work and in their place of employment. Social unrest and unrestrained violence serves to undermine all we have worked for, and casts a dark shadow over the life we hope to pass on to our children. I will work to resolve legitimate social concerns and encourage an environment of economic growth. I look forward to listening to and working with everyone to meet these challenges and more.

What would you be doing right now if you weren’t running for office, and how does that tie in to your mission to serve the people of Massachusetts in Congress?

I would be working on revising existing legislation and drafting new legislation that supports changes to property taxes, the environment and empowers people to affect their destiny and that of their city or town. This activity fosters a greater understanding of issues and the legislative process at the state and federal level. This preview and action process drives us to make needed changes and helps all of us to stand equally before our government and institutions in every way.


The Democratic Candidates

Jake Auchincloss

Jake Auchincloss is a two-term city councilor in Newton, where he grew up and now lives.

Jake Auchincloss (Courtesy of the Auchincloss campaign)
Jake Auchincloss (Courtesy of the Auchincloss campaign)

After graduating from Harvard College in 2010, Auchincloss joined the U.S. Marines, serving one tour as an infantry captain in Afghanistan, then as commander of an anti-narcotics platoon in Panama.

Auchincloss has worked at a cybersecurity startup and as a manager at Liberty Mutual’s innovation lab. He has also written on state and local policy at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Project on Municipal Innovation and as a contributing writer for CommonWealth Magazine.

Why are you running for office? 

Donald Trump’s America is not the America I fought for as a Marine captain. It’s not the America I’ve worked for as a city councilor. I’m running for Congress to help rebuild the country that sent my grandfather, a poor Jewish kid, to college during the darkest hours of WWII — its institutions, its self-confidence, its commitment to justice.

What makes you the best choice to serve the 4th District? 

I’m the only candidate in this race who has gotten results in the military, in business, and in government. Six months ago, no one predicted the issues we’d be grappling with today. Six months from now, we’ll need members of Congress who have proven they can work together to get results in crisis and uncertainty.

In your view, what are the two top problems or issues facing the 4th District and how are you going to address them? 

We must prevent cuts to education and we must ensure a green economic recovery. As a city councilor in Newton, I already see the strains on local budgets from COVID-19. Without federal relief, cities and towns will be forced into cuts to essential services like education and waste management. We have already asked kids, parents, and teachers to sacrifice so much — no more. We must get federal relief to prevent education cuts.

Families are also under immense stress from the weak economy. Unemployment is above 20% in parts of the South Coast. I have already been working with state officials and business leaders on a green economic recovery. In Congress, I’ll work to make sure no one is left behind.

What would you be doing right now if you weren't running for office, and how does that tie in to your mission to serve the people of Massachusetts in Congress? 

The Marine Reserves issued a call for a COVID coordinator for the Northeast early this spring; I would have pursued that billet to bring my leadership experience and organizational skills to bear for public health.

I’d also be continuing my third term on the Newton City Council, where I am currently chair of the Public Safety and Transportation Committee. On the council, I have worked together with colleagues and neighbors to get results on housing and transportation, education and immigration.


Update: Dave Cavell has suspended his bid for the 4th District seat, his campaign announced on Aug. 13.

Dave Cavell

For more than two years, Dave Cavell worked as a senior advisor and assistant attorney general in Attorney General Maura Healey’s office, before leaving to prepare for his run for Congress in September 2019.

Dave Cavell (Courtesy of the Cavell campaign)
Dave Cavell (Courtesy of the Cavell campaign)

He has also worked as a presidential speechwriter and aide in the Obama White House, as a deputy director of new media in the Patrick administration, and as a volunteer at Teach For America.

Cavell lives in Brookline, where he was born and raised.

Why are you running for office? 

When I taught 4th grade in one of the poorest districts in America, I saw a system that failed my students before they ever entered my classroom. It led me to a career in public service, working in the Obama White House and then as assistant attorney general to Maura Healey. I understand the systems that are failing our district and have the experience to create structural change in Congress.

What makes you the best choice to serve the 4th District? 

We don’t have time for rank and file politicians who come back to their districts saying, “We still didn’t get it done.” We need progressive leaders with experience. I sued the Trump Administration 50+ times on climate change, immigration, healthcare, the opioid crisis, and dozens of critical issues. We have the opportunity to elect someone who won’t just vote the right way, but will lead in Congress. I am that candidate.

In your view, what are the top two problems or issues facing the 4th District and how are you going to address them?

COVID-19 has taken 500,000+ jobs and thousands of lives in Massachusetts alone. I plan to ensure the national response is driven by experts and frontline workers, that we address the disparities in our healthcare system, and provide financial support to those who need it most.

Many voters in the 4th District share my urgency in fighting the climate crisis. I support comprehensive reform including the Green New Deal and we can start this work right here in our district, which is uniquely positioned for offshore wind and clean transportation.

These issues require an intersectional approach. We must invest in the Black and brown communities who have been hit the hardest by this pandemic and environmental racism, and fix the systems that are failing them.

What would you be doing right now if you weren’t running for office, and how does that tie in to your mission to serve the people of Massachusetts in Congress? 

I would probably still be assistant attorney general and senior advisor to Attorney General Maura Healey. We owe many thanks to her team, and to attorneys general across the country who worked tirelessly for the recent landmark Supreme Court cases protecting reproductive freedom, LGBTQ rights, DACA and more.

I’ve spent my career working under leaders like Maura who have shown me that justice and fairness require us to look at the totality of our environments and tirelessly pursue the eradication of barriers to equity. I am committed to continuing that pursuit of justice from Congress. The job of a congressperson would be new for any of us but this work would not be for me. In fact, it’s been the work of my career.


Becky Grossman

Becky Grossman is an at-large member of the Newton City Council, but she says her number one job is being a mom to her two children.

Becky Grossman (Courtesy of the Grossman campaign)
Becky Grossman (Courtesy of the Grossman campaign)

She has also worked as an assistant district attorney for Middlesex County and an associate at the law firm Goodwin Procter.

Why are you running for office? 

I’m running for Congress with the fierce urgency of a mom who is fed up by what’s going on in this country and determined to make a change. I wake up every day with deep concern about the world we’re leaving for all of our kids and for generations to come. If there was ever a time to step up and fight, it’s now.

What makes you the best choice to serve the 4th District? 

Out of 435 members of Congress, only 25 are mothers of school-aged children. I believe that if we had 100 moms of young kids in Congress, it would change the conversation in Washington completely. If we’re going to make real progress on our most urgent issues, we need to be sending new and different types of leaders to Washington who aren’t afraid to stand up to powerful special interests.

In your view, what are the top two problems or issues facing the 4th District and how are you going to address them? 

Lack of quality, affordable healthcare is a major problem as well as skyrocketing prescription drug costs. Too many sick people, like my mother, who rely on life-saving medication must navigate a health care system that is confusing and prohibitively expensive. Health care is a human right, and we must create a public option
to cover as many people as quickly as possible, and also allow the federal government to negotiate reasonable drug prices.

Gun violence has torn too many families and communities apart – and disproportionately communities of color – for too long. As a mom to two young kids, I can’t accept that. I’m determined to take on the NRA and enact reasonable gun measures that have popular support from the vast majority of this country.

What would you be doing right now if you weren’t running for office, and how does that tie in to your mission to serve the people of Massachusetts in Congress?

I announced my candidacy for the Newton City Council just a few days after Donald Trump was elected because I wanted to fight for the long-term best interests of my community and generations to come. If I weren’t running for office, I would be continuing my important work on the City Council, advocating for transit-oriented development and affordable housing, early childhood education and our community’s long-term financial stability as chair of the Finance Committee.

I would also proudly be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with my community, other moms, and the millions of Americans who have marched to demand racial justice, bold climate action, and an end to senseless gun violence in this country.


Alan Khazei

Alan Khazei is a co-founder and former executive director of City Year, an AmeriCorp national service volunteer program focused on boosting America’s neediest students.

Alan Khazei (Courtesy of the Khazei campaign)
Alan Khazei (Courtesy of the Khazei campaign)

He is also founder of the nonprofit Democracy Entrepreneurs, and Be the Change, Inc., a Boston-based group working to advance interest in national service, fighting poverty and empowering veterans.

Khazei lives in Brookline.

Why are you running for office? 

As a parent, we need to leave our country better for our children. The coronavirus crisis, economic crisis and racial justice awakening can lead to transformational change to make our society more fair and just. We need to put people before politics to rebuild our economy, restore the American Dream, universalize affordable healthcare, confront climate change, tackle gun safety, fix our democracy and restore a sense of common purpose through national service.

What makes you the best choice to serve the 4th District? 

My work has focused on empowering people to make change that improves people’s lives. I founded City Year and helped build, save and grow AmeriCorps. City Year has grown to 3,000 AmeriCorps members in 32 cities serving 200,000 children annually. I’ve built coalitions to pass three major pieces of federal legislation and 1.1 million people have served since. I bring unique experience as a non-profit entrepreneur, movement leader and bridge-builder.

In your view, what are the top two problems or issues facing the 4th District and how are you going to address them?

The 4th’s biggest challenge is the public health and economic crisis from COVID-19. In response, we need: universal quality affordable health care and to confront the opioid crisis; a Green New Deal to tackle climate change including a massive new infrastructure investment to embrace the clean energy economy by building wind turbines in the South Coast and modernizing our transportation system through South Coast Rail, improved commuter rail and public transit. The Heroes Act to ensure teachers and first responders across the 4th are not laid off. Federal support for Arts and Culture institutions and our important higher ed institutions. And emergency wage support to save our small businesses, a public option for universal broadband and 1,000,000 young people in national service.

What would you be doing right now if you weren’t running for office, and how does that tie in to your mission to serve the people of Massachusetts in Congress?

I would be working with others to build a broad grassroots coalition to call on the next president and Congress to establish an American Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission funded with $50 million, as Professor Cornell W. Brooks and I proposed in our CNN Op-Ed. There is an extraordinary awakening in our country recognizing that we must confront our 400-year history of systemic racism. An American Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission would take the inspiring protest energy and radical truth telling and channel it into an institutional governmental process to ensure that it leads to transformational legal, policy, and cultural change in our public health, education, criminal justice, and economic systems. This process would benefit Massachusetts and people across America.


Ihssane Leckey

A self-proclaimed democratic socialist, Ihssane Leckey emigrated from Morocco to the United States at age 20, where she became the first person in her family to graduate from college. She went on to work as a Wall Street regulator at the Federal Reserve.

Ihssane Leckey (Courtesy of the Leckey campaign)
Ihssane Leckey (Courtesy of the Leckey campaign)

The Leckey campaign is calling for social, economic and environmental equality, and officially rejects all corporate PAC and lobbyist money.

Leckey lives in Brookline.

Why are you running for office?

As an immigrant who struggled through poverty to put myself through community college and as the only woman of color in this race, the fight for social, economic, environmental and racial justice is personal to me. I’m running to fight for working families and bring real change to a system run by corrupt special interests and wealthy white men for too long.

What makes you the best choice to serve the 4th District? 

We need leaders who represent our diversity and our courage, who aren’t afraid to take on corrupt special interests and who know how to get it done. I’ve taken on corrupt corporations as a Wall Street regulator and won’t accept a dollar from corporate PACs or lobbyists.

As the most progressive candidate in this race, I am fighting to create a government and an economy that works for all of us.

In your view, what are the top two problems or issues facing the 4th District and how are you going to address them?

Our families live with the harm caused by toxic waste, poverty wages, and systemic racism and underinvestment in health care, education, housing, and transportation. These issues are connected and can only be solved by bold, transformative policies.

My priority in Congress will be to pass a green economic recovery plan that creates good-paying jobs, combats climate change and creates an economy that works for all. We must transition to a Medicare-for-All health care system that includes long-term care, reproductive justice, dental, vision and mental health care. We must make the ultra-rich and large corporations pay their fair share in order to guarantee free pre-k and affordable housing. And we must shift spending from police departments to investments in our communities.

What would you be doing right now if you weren’t running for office, and how does that tie in to your mission to serve the people of Massachusetts in Congress?

I left a high-profile government job where I was responsible for holding Wall Street accountable because I couldn’t watch Trump attack our civil rights and undermine the work we’d done. I started organizing for racial and economic justice in my community and am committed to this work.

This moment demands that we take on the people, corrupt corporations and institutions that threaten our lives, livelihoods and democracy. Poverty, mass incarceration, the climate crisis, and extreme wealth inequality are choices made by the corporate elite who have controlled this country for too long.

Our job is to bring people together, to take on the most powerful special interests, and create a government that guarantees health care, affordable housing, free pre-K, a clean environment and justice for all.


Natalia Linos

Natalia Linos is an epidemiologist and the executive director of the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard. Over the course of her career she has worked extensively in Massachusetts, New York and abroad, using the lens of science to fight for health and social equality in marginalized populations.

Natalia Linos (Courtesy of the Linos campaign)
Natalia Linos (Courtesy of the Linos campaign)

A first-generation Greek-American, Linos lives in Brookline Village.

Why are you running for office? 

I’m running for office because of the Trump administration’s devastating response to COVID-19. As an epidemiologist, experienced public servant and mother of three, I realized we can no longer afford to simply hope politicians listen to scientists. We urgently need more people who can put science and equity at the center of our decision-making, so we can recover and rebuild our country with one guiding principle: it must work for everyone.

What makes you the best choice to serve the 4th District? 

Over the next two years, Congress will have to make life and death decisions about how to save lives and support livelihoods. I have the scientific expertise, global perspective, and progressive values needed to represent Massachusetts’ 4th Congressional District and ensure that we reopen safely, recover from the economic shock, and rebuild in line with our values so that we are never this unprepared again.

In your view, what are the top two problems or issues facing the 4th District and how are you going to address them? 

The COVID-19 pandemic and climate change are the most pressing challenges we face today and will remain so over the next years. These crises are interlinked: if we don’t prioritize our planet today, we’ll face more pandemics in the future. As a member of Congress, I will push for a comprehensive multi-pronged response to COVID-19 that uses this moment as an opportunity to reimagine both our economy and our society. In my COVID-19 Response and Recovery Plan I outline an agenda that supports expanded unemployment insurance and sick leave, protects working-class families and small businesses, and prioritizes schools and child care centers. But it also ensures our recovery is aligned with the Green New Deal and investing in public infrastructure and green jobs.

What would you be doing right now if you weren’t running for office, and how does that tie in to your mission to serve the people of Massachusetts in Congress?

I’m currently the executive director of the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University (part-time, due to the campaign) and serve on the Poor People’s Campaign COVID-19 Health Justice Advisory Committee. I’ve built my career around using science to guide policy and reduce systemic racism and economic inequities. At the United Nations, I led initiatives to tackle climate change and environmental injustice. In NYC’s Health Department, I fought for investments in mental health, including tackling the opioid overdose crisis. Whether inside Congress or outside, I’m committed to working every day to promote evidence-based policies that ensure healthy and safe communities, shared prosperity, and a healthy planet for the people of Massachusetts.


Jesse Mermell

Jesse Mermell has worked in senior leadership roles at Planned Parenthood and as president of the Alliance for Business Leadership, a nonprofit focused on boosting transportation, housing, workplace opportunities and clean energy in Massachusetts.

Jesse Mermell (Courtesy of the Mermell campaign)
Jesse Mermell (Courtesy of the Mermell campaign)

She was former Gov. Deval Patrick’s communications director from 2013 to 2015, and served as a select board member for the town of Brookline from 2007 to 2013.

Mermell lives in Brookline.

Why are you running for office?

I’m running for Congress to fight for the core Democratic values that are under assault by Donald Trump and his Republican cronies – values I’ve fought for my entire life and will not see undermined when I’m in Congress. I’m ready to take on Trump, fight for Medicare for All and reproductive justice, lead an equitable recovery from COVID-19 and build a fair economy for everyone in the 4th District.

What makes you the best choice to serve the 4th District? 

This district deserves bold, progressive leadership focused on the solutions families need. I’ve done that – as a leader with Planned Parenthood, alongside Gov. Patrick, in partnership with my friend and supporter Ayanna Pressley and on the Brookline Select Board. I have the right experience, message and coalition — from grassroots activists, local leaders and workers with SEIU, IBEW 103 and the Coalition for Social Justice – to win.

In your view, what are the top two problems or issues facing the 4th District and how are you going to address them? 

Equitably rebuilding from COVID-19 and fixing our broken health care system. Trump has failed to lead during COVID-19 — as he has since taking office. Our recovery must be equitable and centered on the workers and communities hardest hit, particularly communities of color. We need more testing, contact tracing, treatment and PPE, as well as paid leave, support for state and local governments, additional stimulus money, affordable early education and childcare, a national foreclosures and evictions moratorium, vote-by-mail, minimized risk in our criminal legal system and more. It’s a long list — but so is the list of problems we need to fix. I’ll also address our broken health care system by implementing Medicare for All, cracking down on Big Pharma and championing reproductive justice.

What would you be doing right now if you weren’t running for office, and how does that tie in to your mission to serve the people of Massachusetts in Congress? 

I would be doing what I’ve always done – leading the fight for bold, progressive change on the front lines. Immediately before running, I led the state’s progressive business organization. If I were still there, I would be rallying support for a COVID-19 recovery that centers workers and ensures they have the hazard pay, equipment and protections they need so that no one has to choose between their health and their paycheck. I would be amplifying the voices of Black and brown leaders and working to be an accomplice in the fight against systemic racism in the business community and beyond. I would also be doing everything in my power to elect progressives up and down the ballot in 2020 and send Trump back to Mar-a-Lago.


Ben Sigel

Ben Sigel grew up in Braintree, where, as a Jewish boy with a Puerto Rican mother, he says he experienced intolerance and prejudice for the first time.

Ben Sigel (Courtesy of the Sigel campaign)
Ben Sigel (Courtesy of the Sigel campaign)

After college, Sigel worked for the Democratic National Campaign Committee under former Rep. Robert Frost of Texas. When Frost became chair of the Democratic Caucus in 1999, Sigel assumed an administrative role in the congressman’s office. Sigel has also worked as a research assistant for Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin.

For the past eight years, Sigel has worked as a civil litigation lawyer at the firm Mintz Levin. He lives in Brookline.

Why are you running for office? 

We are living in a time when our country is more divided than ever, and the inequality gap is wider than ever. We need diverse leadership in Congress who can understand the diverse perspectives of their community and represent the entire district. I am running to represent all 34 cities and towns because we are all in this together, which is the entire theme of our campaign “We the 4th.”

What makes you the best choice to serve the 4th District? 

We need a leader who is a bridge builder, unifier and connector, and who can relate to the majority of the district. I grew up in a middle-class family in a suburb of Boston; I am Jewish and will be the first Latino ever elected to Congress from Massachusetts. I have worked in government to promote a national Democratic agenda, in the private sector at law firms as a lawyer and with over a dozen nonprofits helping to strengthen their communities and build partnerships.

In your view, what are the top two problems or issues facing the 4th District and how are you going to address them? 

Health care. COVID-19 further exposed the danger of when one person does not have health care. I will fight for universal access to high-quality, affordable health care, including for undocumented immigrants, federal paid family and medical leave, and to allow the federal government to negotiate prescription drug prices under Medicare.

Racism. COVID-19 further exacerbated inequalities in our society. We must eradicate racism in our healthcare, education, housing, transportation, and criminal justice systems and in our environment.

We must select diverse political, civic and business leaders who understand the diverse perspectives of their communities, teach our youth at the earliest age that lies, prejudice and stereotypes can turn into hate and worse, teach cultural competency and bias training to our leaders, and support and protect the voting rights of ALL Americans.

What would you be doing right now if you weren’t running for office, and how does that tie in to your mission to serve the people of Massachusetts in Congress? 

I would still be fighting for diversity, equity and inclusion for everyone, particularly for the Black and brown communities. I would still be the president of the Hispanic National Bar Association for New England and the national director of client and community relations at my law firm, where I would be breaking down silos for stronger collaboration to provide better client service.

I would also still be sitting on numerous nonprofit boards helping to strengthen communities, building lasting partnerships and combatting hatred, bigotry, racism and anti-Semitism in all forms against all people. Most importantly, I would be spending more time trying to be the best dad I can to my four young children and the best husband I can to my wife.


Update: Chris Zannetos has suspended his bid for the 4th District seat, his campaign announced on Aug. 26.

Chris Zannetos

Chris Zannetos is a first-generation American and an entrepreneur. He holds two degrees from MIT and has founded three tech and cybersecurity companies.

Chris Zannetos (Courtesy of the Zannetos campaign)
Chris Zannetos (Courtesy of the Zannetos campaign)

Zannetos is also the founder of STEMatchMA, a nonprofit working to foster STEM education in marginalized communities, and a founding member of the United Way’s BoSTEM Advisory Board.

He lives in Wellesley.

Why are you running for office? 

Over 40% of Americans don’t believe in the "American Dream" — the opportunity to build a better life than the generation before. The staggering wealth and opportunity gaps and deepening holes in our healthcare and education systems disproportionately impact already marginalized communities. We need leaders in Washington who understand the education, technology, and economic drivers of this inequality, and possess the right experience to drive bold action — not just bold ideas.

What makes you the best choice to serve the 4th District? 

We need more “doers” with the actual job creation, technology, and education experience to address our urgent inequality, climate, and healthcare challenges. Further, only 6 of 435 members of Congress have a technology background, despite its sweeping impacts on our economy and society. I’m the only candidate who has created 21st century jobs and brought together companies and schools to create new pathways to technology careers for underrepresented and marginalized communities.

In your view, what are the top two problems or issues facing the 4th District and how are you going to address them?

Intersectionality exists among our most pressing issues, with access to good jobs and affordable, 21st century-aligned education at the core. Technology is transforming every industry — rendering some jobs obsolete while creating many others. Millions of these good-paying, “new collar jobs” are unfilled across the country and don’t require a 4-year college degree. To make them accessible to more Americans, we must invest in K-12 experiential STEM education, 1-2 year certificate/associate’s degree programs, and a GI-Bill like program to provide financial resources and pathways for all Americans to gain the education and experience needed to build a better life for their families. When all Americans have equal opportunity to achieve financial stability, we can then drive real and tangible progress toward social, environmental, and healthcare justice.

What would you be doing right now if you weren’t running for office, and how does that tie into your mission to serve the people of Massachusetts in Congress?

I would continue my life’s work to make the internet safer for everyone through my company, Covered Security. I’d also be taking action to scale the reach and impact of my nonprofit, STEMatchMA. Before the pandemic, we were poised to dramatically increase the number of public middle schools we work with, and the number of communities we work in. We were also looking to build more partnerships between community colleges and vocational programs with Massachusetts companies to eliminate the barriers to economic and educational opportunities that exist in our district, state and country. I believe it is precisely this kind of leadership and experience we need in Congress to drive win/win solutions to these 21st century challenges for the people of Massachusetts.


Produced by WBUR's Wilder Fleming, Lisa Creamer and Dan Mauzy

This article was originally published on July 29, 2020.

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