Letter: Jeffrey Sánchez is My Friend

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Jeffrey Sánchez is my friend. And like most of my friends, we share a vision that government be a force for good and progress; moving forward laws and policies that make equity, equality, and simple human justice possible.

Jeffrey Sánchez was raised in the Washington Heights section of New York City and his developmental years in public housing in Mission Hill. Jeff has spent his entire life working to make opportunity and a decent chance at life a reality for all. Jeffrey Sánchez has never forgotten his roots.

A few years after his election to the Massachusetts House of Representatives, Jeff Sánchez was appointed chairman of the Joint Committee on Public Health. Jeff’s thirst for justice for all people became clear in his work. As a member of the health committee, Jeff was at the center of legislation that brought healthcare to 98% of people in Massachusetts. Several years later as chairman of the Health Access committee he fought for and won laws promoting access, and transparency on the rising costs of healthcare. His work insured that women did not have co-pays for birth control, screening for HIV, as well as increasing access to nurse mid-wives.

Jeff works tirelessly on youth development and affordable housing issues and is deeply sensitive to the needs of public housing tenants, especially those in his legislative district. After a public safety concern in the Bromley-Heath apartments, Jeff Sánchez brought together a number of activists and advocates, and together with then City Councilor Mike Ross, engaged at-risk youth and young adults in the development in a summer long program of sports, mentoring, and helping them find jobs. Jeff helped bring together an advisory council of citizens within Bromley and has maintained a consistent and engaged relationship with the residents as well as resident leadership

This is the Jeffrey Sánchez I know…taking action on the hard stuff because it’s hard. Congruent with his passion for justice is his deep reserve of energy. Jeff is a tireless worker on behalf of his district and Massachusetts and it is through his work ethic in which he truly shines…working 15 hour days or more, seeking consensus, doing the stuff that’s hard in the statehouse on behalf of us, the people.

He worked to bring internships and diversity to the growing life sciences sector…a booming industry where people of color have been nothing short of invisible.

Jeff Sánchez was an original supporter of criminal justice reform, way back in 2006 before it was popular… and, in 2018, as chair of the House Ways and Means committee, navigated the passage of the latest criminal justice reform package, recognized as one of the most progressive pieces of criminal justice reform legislation in this country in decades. His leadership on another powerful piece of progressive legislation, lifting the family cap on kids to help poor and struggling mothers and their children, is another example of Jeff’s leadership and commitment to the poor and powerless. And, as House Ways and Means chairman, Jeff crafted a budget that did not forget poor and working people, or their communities.

Not bad for a poor Puerto Rican kid from Mission Hill. And it’s not over yet.

There’s unfinished business on issues Jeff is passionate about…immigration, in which Jeff has always championed, the environment, public education, and dental care for the poor. These are at the core of who he is. Jeff will never stop fighting for people or injustice.

As frustrating as it is for us advocates who work the statehouse, imagine how tough it is being a progressive in leadership. There are many conservative democrats in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. They don’t care much for poor people, cities, minorities, immigrants and depending on the legislative ask, women. In that space, Jeff fought for immigration and climate change, working with legislators and leadership to secure passage. Unfortunately, he lost, just like the rest of us. And that my friends, is what’s called politics. Fighters get knocked down, and they get back up to fight another day. Jeffrey Sánchez is back on his feet as are we ready to fight another day.

Jeffrey Sánchez as chairman of the House Ways and Means committee helped make Massachusetts a leader in criminal justice reform; successfully fought for poor and struggling mothers and their children; and for the first time in decades crafted a state budget that is humane and helps people. This adds on to his lifelong achievements on behalf of the poor, youth, the LGBTQ communities, those in need of healthcare, as well as every man, woman and child seeking a chance at a new life in this country and specifically Massachusetts. As we think about the primary on September 4th, I hope you give this some thought.

And finally, we have so few people of color with real power in this state and who want to use it for the common good. Please also think about this before you vote.

Jeffrey Sánchez has not and never will forget where he came from. He will always fight for us.

Horace Small
Executive Director
Union of Minority Neighborhoods
19-year Jamaica Plain resident