UncategorizedIssues Facing Our State

January 4, 202010

Issues Facing Our State

Although the situation in Washington is dire, here at home, there are many critical things we can do to protect our families, our economy, and our rights. Some of Jen’s legislative priorities include:

Have an issue you’d like to share with Jen? Email us to get in touch.



        Public Transit

  • Investing in and modernizing the MBTA will be one of Jen’s top priorities.
  • The T is personal for Jen. She was a long-time Red Line commuter and decided to change jobs because she could not count on public infrastructure to get her home in time.
  • We cannot have a thriving economy when people cannot get to work, nor can we cut our carbon emissions without making mass transit attractive and reliable. The T needs to be reliable and affordable if we want more commuters to choose it.
  • Jen will fight to lower costs to riders and to make routes free, prioritizing bus routes that serve low-income communities and communities of color.
  • Jen is committed to identifying new dedicated revenue streams for the T, lowering the cost of rides, investment in parking at terminus stations like Alewife, electrifying more of the system, and she has the political will and commitment to get it adopted.

        Public Colleges and Universities

  • Jen is committed to restoring our UMass system to fiscal health by passing the Cherish Act, which would restore funding for the system to 2001 levels.
  • She is also committed to fighting for legislation to ensure a debt-free option for in-state students who enroll in public colleges. Massachusetts has the fastest rising cost of public higher education in the nation, and no Massachusetts student should have to go into debt or visit food pantries to attend our UMass system.
  • We need a state system that is both excellent and affordable to ensure that every student has access to a world-class college education, and this requires adequate state funding.

        Climate Change

  • Jen has been endorsed by Sunrise Boston.
  • Jen will bring urgency to reversing climate change and preparing for the effects oSunrise Boston logof flooding and other climate emergencies in the 24th Middlesex.
  • Jen will fight for state policies that move us faster toward 100% renewable energy, prioritize mass transit and electric vehicles, promote environmental justice, and make Massachusetts a leader in developing green jobs
  • Jen will cosponsor and advocate for the bill sponsored by Rep. Marjorie Decker and Rep. Sean Garballey to promote 100% renewables.

        Public K-12 Education

  • Jen led the largest non-profit partner of Cambridge Public Schools for 9 years, and currently leads a mentorship program in Boston for young people pursuing careers in architecture, construction, and engineering.
  • Jen is a public school parent and a graduate of public schools in Massachusetts.
  • As your Representative, Jen will fight to ensure the Student Opportunity Act is fully funded and work to create additional funding streams for schools serving low-income students.

        Bodily Autonomy

  • We must secure women’s rights and the rights of pregnant people to healthcare here at home by passing the ROE Act. If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, having appropriate laws on the books to protect our rights is essential. 
  • Jen has fought for the rights of survivors throughout her career. As the director of a rape crisis center in Framingham, she expanded services to immigrant communities and children and introduced a 24-hour hotline.
  • Jen will work to end the backlog of rape kits for processing and to ensure a system moving forward that ensures that every kit is processed.
  • Read more about how Jen’s lived experience impacts her pro-choice values here. Trigger warning: sexual assault.


  • Jen will move the state to “housing first” policies rather than warehousing in shelter.
  • Jen will support the development of affordable housing, including transit-oriented development, and the preservation of existing affordable housing
  • Jen has supported the affordable housing overlay in Cambridge, a zoning change that will promote 100% affordable housing development once passed.
  • Jen will fight for expansion of the MRVP program and other state programs that provide housing permanency for low-income people.
  • Jen wrote the successful grant proposal that funded the first “Civil Gideon” pilot in Massachusetts, in which every litigant facing eviction bin two courts received representation at trial.

        Safe Communities

  • We must protect immigrant communities by passing the Safe Communities Act, which ensures that local police do not report undocumented immigrants to ICE.
  • These policies encourage crime victims and witnesses to work with the police rather than hiding from them, making all of us safer. They also ensure that perpetrators of crimes cannot pressure a victim by using their immigration status against them.
  • We also must prioritize gun sense policies to keep Massachusetts as the safest state for gun violence and to ensure that no residents must fear gun violence in their communities.

        Racial Justice

  • Jen has worked on racial equity issues within two task forces in the Cambridge Public Schools, both as a parent and as an educator.
  • Jen is committed to dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline and the “new Jim Crow”, as Michelle Alexander named it.
  • Jen will work to dismantle relics of white supremacy, such as racist zoning, qualified immunity, suppression of peaceful protests, and more. 


  • Jen will work to ensure that re-opening plans put safety before profits.
  • Jen will fight to protect people who live in nursing homes, as well as people in state institutions like prisons and immigrant detention, to ensure that their safety is put first.
  • Jen will work to ensure that preschools and child care centers have the support that they need during this crisis, and that parents are not forced back to work with no safe child care options.
  • Jen will work to ensure that public education planning prioritizes the safety of students and teachers, and that all students have the support that they need to learn during the pandemic.
  • Jen has worked with mutual aid to provide groceries and support for people in need. She also worked with a group to raise more than $24,500 to purchase meals at local restaurants and send them to health care workers during the surge.   



  • Milton A. Fatt

    July 11, 2020 at 9:12 pm

    It was a pleasure talking to you and hopefully I will have time to meet you at one of your zoom conferences.

  • Bill Berkowitz

    July 20, 2020 at 8:12 pm

    Can you state how your positions are different from those of Dave Rogers, and make the case for why you are a better candidate for office than he is?

    • jenniferfries

      July 27, 2020 at 6:04 pm

      Thanks for asking! We differ on transparency. Many votes are taken in committee and on the floor at the State House without ever being public. Thus, many good policies die in committee. The incumbent voted against three transparency amendments in the House Rules this session, and I have taken the Act on Mass transparency pledge. When I visited him about a bill I cared about, the red flag law, he spent the visit playing “devil’s advocate” for me and the other volunteer, explaining why it was difficult to support commonsense gun laws. I support transparency reforms because I think it’s important that constituents and advocates can hold elected officials accountable for their positions in committee meetings, since this is where most of the work of legislation happens.

      Also, we just have different life experiences. I have lived in the district for 20 years, I am a public school parent, and I’ve run nonprofits and a quasi-state agency that funds legal services for low-income people. I have served both as a parent and an educator on a task force to dismantle systemic racism in the Cambridge public schools. I have done decades of work to stop intimate partner violence and to provide shelter and support for homeless families. I have long-term relationships with people in the district, and I have managed large partnerships to promote volunteerism among tech, biotech, pharma, and research institutions. I have been endorsed by a number of elected and former elected officials because they know my work. If you’d like, I’d be happy to chat at a candidate coffee hour or on the phone; would any times work well for you?

  • Aram Hollman

    July 27, 2020 at 5:54 pm

    1) Ditto Bill Berkowitz’ question.

    2) The things you have done are laudable, but your record makes no mention of having previously served in -any- publicly elected office. Why should your first-ever election be as a state rep? It is not a rule or a requirement, but is more common for people to first get experience at the lower level of any organization before moving up. Why not get legislative experience in local government first, before moving on to state or national office? Your putting in the time at the minimal or zero compensation that most town representatives receive, gives you legislative and constituent experience, and a base of people who can attest to your dedication to public service, willingness to listen, and ability to achieve results within governmental constraints. With rare exceptions, e.g. Elizabeth Warren or Donald Trump, this is what most elected officials do. So why do you merit being fast-tracked to a salaried, state-level position?

    3) And why now? Particularly when you could have run for elected office earlier in the many years you’ve been around, or you could choose to wait before running for a host of reasons.

    • jenniferfries

      July 27, 2020 at 6:31 pm

      Hi Aram,
      At the time that the incumbent was elected, he had also never held elected office.

      It’s true. My only elected office is as part of the Democratic Ward Committee; I was elected in March. I have worked closely with state government when I was the second-in-command at a quasi-state agency (technically, a public non-profit) that funds legal aid for low-income people in Massachusetts. In that role, I oversaw and expanded a $16 million budget that funded legal services statewide. At that time, I also served for four years on a subcommittee of the Governor’s Commission on Domestic Violence, working to ensure a more coordinated set of supports for victims and survivors. I am comfortable working within the parameters of government, and I have the endorsement of a number of elected and former elected officials who can attest to my dedication, etc. Some of them are former state Rep. Anne Paulsen, Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui, Cambridge Vice Mayor Alanna Mallon, Cambridge City Councilor Patty Nolan, Arlington Town Meeting Member Christian Klein, Belmont Town Meeting member Fred Paulsen, and Cambridge School Committee members Ayesha Wilson and Rachel Weinstein.

      • jenniferfries

        July 28, 2020 at 12:43 pm

        Oh, and as to why now: Like many people, after the 2016 election, I realized that I had an obligation to do more. I have been a volunteer for Democratic causes and candidates for many years. I started hosting groups of like-minded people for postcard writing, phone banking, and canvassing, as well as donating to immigrant rights, legal aid, and civil rights groups. At one of those parties, where we were writing postcards for the Stacey Abrams campaign, the news of the day was quite crushing. Brett Kavanaugh would be appointed to the Supreme Court, without investigation of the credible accusations of sexual assault. Also, more and more news was coming out about family separations at the border, but our state legislature still had not passed the Safe Communities Act. Many people at the event were feeling the pain of that moment. Several people asked me to consider running for this seat, believing that we could have a more energetic rep. The next day, I applied to a six-month candidate training program designed to encourage more Democratic women to run for office. The organization exists because our reps are still 71% men, despite women being one of the most loyal Democratic constituencies and obviously half of the populace.

        I notified my board of directors at Cambridge School Volunteers that I was considering a run, and that for the good of my nonprofit, I felt that I should step down if I did run. (Ethics laws would allow me to run from that position, but I would have to leave abruptly if elected, because my agency had a small state contract.) After completing the six-month program, and assisting with recruiting my successor, I ultimately stepped down from the leadership of my nonprofit. I took another job in December 2019 as the head of a different nonprofit. The role is more compatible with running both in terms of the hours and the fact that my new agency does not have any state contract.

        Perhaps I should have run earlier. The first time someone asked me to run for office, it was a League of Women Voters volunteer who heard me speak about dating violence. I was in my 20s. I did not give it a moment’s thought. I was busy doing work I loved in the non-profit sector. Even when I got my Masters in Public Administration at Harvard, I did not contemplate a run for office. Now, I am 50, and I have had three decades of experience on how state policies impact real people, both in my work and in my own life. I am ready to serve in this role and would be honored to earn your vote.

  • Robie White

    August 2, 2020 at 3:49 pm

    Other than transparency, are there other policy issues you can define on which you hold a different position than Dave Rogers? Are there policy issues on which you have stated a position and Dave Rogers has not? Would you consider a debate with Dave Rogers?

    • jenniferfries

      August 2, 2020 at 3:57 pm

      Hi, we are having 2 debates. One will be August 11 aired live on Belmont Media, CCTV and ACMi, the local cable stations, and it will be available on the ACMi Youtube. The other one is August 12, organized by the Belmont League of Women Voters, and will also be on the local stations, air time TBC.

      I think that we agree on many issues but disagree on effective strategies to advance those policy concerns. You can read more about my policy priorities or listen to the podcast here.

  • Lynette Martyn

    August 12, 2020 at 3:33 pm

    It has been great meeting you and getting to know your positions Jennifer. I have also experienced a lack of transparency, response and the “devil’s advocate” thing with Mr Rogers. You have earned my vote.

    • jenniferfries

      August 12, 2020 at 5:39 pm

      Thank you, Lynette! I appreciate your support!

Comments are closed.

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