With the Democratic primary coming up on Sept. 4, Congressman Mike Capuano and Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley discussed the issues of transportation and housing, among others, in the Massachusetts’ 7th Congressional District Debate held at UMass Boston on Tuesday, August 7.
From the start, the two sides agreed on their stance against the current administration, although the stance wasn’t simply to be anti-Trump. Capuano pointed to several issues, including healthcare and women’s rights.
“With Donald Trump in the White House, we are in the fight of our lives,” he said. “He’s threatening everything that we care about.”
Challenger Pressley stressed that she wasn’t dismissing the efforts of the incumbent Capuano, who is serving his 10th term in Congress, and his experience, but she emphasized the district’s need for activist leadership.
“What this district deserves, and what these times require, is activist leadership, someone who can be a movement and a coalition builder because, ultimately, a vote on the floor of Congress will not defeat the hate coming out of that White House,” Pressley said. “Only a movement can, and we have to build it.”
Capuano said his run has been a combination of both votes and advocacy. “Votes are important, and, by the way, with Democrats in the majority, we brought healthcare to 20 million people,” Capuano said. “Votes are part of what we do, but advocacy behind those votes and part of those votes is just as important on a regular basis, and my record shows we do both.”
Capuano, who cited how the district has seen its public transportation grow during his tenure, said his experience matters.
“In the final analysis, the votes on the floor of the house are going to be, for the most part, the same,” he said. “The effectiveness of what’s behind that vote will be different.”
Fighting for a majority minority district, Pressley also noted her frustration against the charges of identity politics being lobbied against her. The first woman of color elected to the City Council, Pressley recognized the importance of race and gender but said it can’t be recognized for the wrong reasons.
“[Representation] doesn’t matter so we have progressive cred[ibility] about how inclusive and representative we are,” Pressley said. “It matters because it informs the issues that are spotlighted and emphasized, and it leads to more innovative and enduring solutions.”
The debate was hosted by WBUR, the Boston Globe and UMass Boston’s McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies. It was moderated by WBUR’s Meghna Chakrabarti and The Boston Globe’s Adrian Walker.
The Democratic primary will be held on Sept. 4, while the general election is on Nov. 6. However, the race between Capuano and Pressley will be decided in the Sept. 4 primary.
The 7th district encompasses parts of Boston, Cambridge and Milton, and all of Everett, Chelsea, Randolph and Somerville.