Rep. Tram Nguyen was elected in November to represent the 18th Essex district, which includes parts of Andover, Boxord, North Andover, and Tewksbury.
(1) What got you involved in politics in the first place?
I got involved in politics through my work as a legal aid attorney at Greater Boston Legal Services. While there, I advocated for several bills that would improve the lives of my clients, which included survivors of domestic violence, children, seniors, veterans, and working families. Many of the bills that I worked on were signed into law, including Paid Family Medical Leave, Earned Income Tax Credit for survivors of domestic violence, and Bilingual Education Bill. None of these bills would have been passed without the collective efforts of many people advocating for these changes.
(2) What inspired you to run for this office?
In January 2017, I attended the inaugural Boston Women’s March and was incredibly inspired by all of the enthusiastic women and girls in attendance who felt empowerment and were ready to see more women in elected leadership positions, both at the state and federal levels. I was particularly inspired by women leaders who understand the challenges and stereotypes we face, who can champion our causes and support women of color like myself, and who can educate our colleagues on how to craft laws and policies that have positive impacts on people’s lives. These women inspired me to run to improve our laws and institutions to treat everyone equally and with the respect and dignity we all deserve.
Furthermore, I decided to run because I was frustrated with my former state representative, who did not represent my values and chose to ignore me as his constituent. I tried to reach out to him to talk about issues and bills that were near and dear to me, and he refused to respond to me for almost 2 years. I ran to better represent the people of my district and to build a stronger, brighter, and more inclusive and welcoming community for all.
(3) What were the most important lessons you learned during the campaign?
First, I learned the importance of building the right team. It was vital for me to have a diverse group of advisers who came from different backgrounds and have different experiences to help me look at issues from different perspectives.
Second, I learned the importance of leading by example. I had to step out of my comfort zone and do many things that I was not entirely comfortable doing, i.e., calling random people for money, going to events where I was not necessarily invited to, etc. I nevertheless did what I had to do for the campaign, and when volunteers and supporters saw my dedication, they also stepped out of their comfort zones to do things that they had never done before, such as phone-banking, door-knocking, or anything else that needed to be done to win the election. I am so proud of my volunteers who did so many different things for the first time.
(4) What are your priorities for the new legislative session?
My top priority is HD2947, An Act to protect injured workers. It would help workers with obtaining fair workers’ compensation benefits and strengthen protections against retaliation. Another priority of mine is HD2945, An Act to promote safety for victims of violent crimes and human trafficking. This bill would standardize procedures and protocol in an effort to create more transparency and accountability for victims as well as promote access to justice and legal relief for them. We also just finished the co-sponsorship period at the State House, and I am pleased to say that, in addition to the bills that I filed, I have signed on to over 300 bills that I care deeply about and will be actively engaged in advocating for. They touch important issues like education, environmental justice, criminal justice, health care, and much more.
In addition to legislative priorities, my other focus for this session is to be available and accessible to constituents. I also intend to be transparent and accountable to my constituents by committing to responding to all constituents, even those who disagree with me, and explaining my votes to those who inquire about them. I am not here to promise constituents, or anyone, that I will agree with them 100% on every issue, but what I CAN promise is that I am committed to giving this job 100%. I will be diligent, and I will listen attentively to make informed decisions that will improve the lives of my constituents and the people of the Commonwealth.
(5) Why is it important for more young people to get active in the Democratic Party?
The Democratic Party’s ability to influence and enact changes that we all can believe in depends on more young people getting involved in politics. It is your activism that can ensure that our values get a voice in institutions of power. It is that activism that helped candidates like me get elected into office, to bring a new voice and fresh perspective. Young people are the future and how, and what you do is going to impact what the future looks like. That’s why it is vitally important that you get involved and do the necessary work to elect more leaders that reflect our shared values.