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Meet State Rep Candidate Kathleen Hornby!

I was very excited to learn that my client Kathleen Hornby is running for State Representative of the 27th Middlesex District (representing a good chunk of Somerville) and wanted to take the opportunity to introduce her -- I hope you'll enjoy our Q&A!

LGC: So Kathleen, I know you have a long history of public service -- how did you get started on that path?

KH: My first involvement in community service was through my parish, and then I became engaged in political activism through my high school's GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance). I studied government in college and learned more about the ways in which policy decisions are made and how they impact people's lives -- for better and for worse.

When I graduated, I was planning to go into international development but life got in the way and I found a job at the Massachusetts State House instead. I loved working with people who were as committed as I was to addressing residents' immediate needs as well as building frameworks for a more equitable and sustainable future. 

LGC: And now here you are, running for State Rep!

KH: Yes! When I left the State House after my second stint working there, I knew that I wanted to keep working in policy but hadn't decided what I wanted that to look like. I didn't want to go back to a legislative staff position, but everything else I thought of, from advocacy organizations to think tanks, felt too far removed from the legislative process. I realized that the best way for me to serve my community and use my skills, experience, and professional relationships was to run for office. 

LGC: I'm sure your time at the State House provided a lot of great experience that would serve you well as State Rep -- anything come to mind that you're particularly proud of?

KH: I've spent nearly a decade overall working in the State House and there's so much I've learned that would help in this role. Constituent services is a big one -- people want to feel heard, first and foremost, even if you don't have an immediate solution.

Another lesson is that there's more than one way to move policy forward. Sometimes a bill goes through as-is from start to finish, but more often you have to find a way to get language into a larger bill, or into a budget amendment. All of that takes a deep understanding of the legislative process as well as a strong network in the building.

I'm particularly proud of work that I was involved in to increase cash assistance for people struggling in poverty, to secure state funding for victim service programs after federal funds were cut, and to expand access to mental health care for children and adolescents.    

LGC: Okay, so let's talk about the Democratic primary election on September 3 -- correct me if I'm wrong, but not all Somerville residents are covered by the 27th Middlesex District in which you're running, is that correct? What parts of the City does your district cover?

KH: You're not wrong, there are three House seats that include Somerville. The 27th Middlesex District is the only one that is completely within Somerville. It includes Davis Square, some of Tufts, Powderhouse Square, Magoun Square, Spring Hill, some of Winter Hill, Prospect Hill/Union Square, and some of Ward Two. 

LGC: So for those who are eligible to vote for you, what would you like them to know about you and the issues you'd like to work on?

KH: My focus is on how we can make a direct difference in people's lives. I'm fighting for issues like housing stability, reproductive justice, and climate action not because they’re part of a progressive policy platform, but because that’s how we address the needs of residents who are struggling or in crisis.

Working in the State House, especially doing constituent casework, can be heartbreaking. I remember the names, faces, and stories of the people I’ve fought for and alongside, because that’s what kept me from being overwhelmed by frustration when it felt like the odds of making a difference were insurmountable. 

LGC: You mentioned housing stability and I know you want to work on increasing Somerville's housing supply, which would go a long way toward that goal. Do you have any particular ideas about how to make that happen? What are some of the obstacles we're dealing with from your perspective?

KH: The Affordable Homes Act currently before the Legislature is a great start -- it includes $4 billion to support the production, preservation and rehabilitation of more than 65,000 homes statewide, and provides municipalities with tools to increase affordable housing development. There are efforts underway to add rent stabilization and additional tenant protections to the bill, which I strongly support.

As for obstacles, some people and communities are deeply resistant to increasing housing density and preserving affordability. One constituent told me that "no one has a right to live in Somerville." While that's technically true, I believe that if we continue in the direction we're headed, this community will be unrecognizable. We need to make sure that families, workers, artists, seniors, immigrants, and every other group that makes our city so vibrant will be able to stay here. 

LGC: Totally agree.

So in the primary, you going head-to-head with the incumbent Representative, Erika Uyterhoeven. As two Democrats, you likely share similar values, but what do you think you would bring to the table that is new/different?

KH: Yes, we are the only two candidates in the primary, and even that is unusual considering most incumbents in Massachusetts are re-elected without a challenge.

What makes me a strong candidate and would make me an effective member of the Legislature is that I’m a team player and I know how to use every available opportunity to move policies forward. The only way to get things done on Beacon Hill is by working with colleagues to find common ground -- no matter how good an idea is, it's not going anywhere with just one person pushing for it. I'm also working on different issues, like poverty, mental health and substance use, reproductive and maternal health, climate jobs, and gun violence prevention. 

LGC: Got it. So shifting gears a bit... What do you love most about living in Somerville?

KH: That's a tough one! I love the community the most, which I appreciate more and more the longer I live in the city. There are so many ways that people connect with and look out for each other, from organized mutual aid and community fridges to informal buy/sell/trade groups and neighborhood group chats. 

LGC: There's definitely a great sense of community. And since you have kiddos, curious what THEY love about the City?

KH: My kids love the cafes and ice cream shops! They also love being able to walk, scooter, bike, and sled on the community path, which we're fortunate to have a block away. My daughter is in third grade and she and her friends are starting to gain some independence, like walking to and from each other's houses on their own, which is a huge benefit of living in Somerville. 

LGC: Any tips on the best neighborhood spots in the Powderhouse area?

KH: There are so many great ones. My favorites are Daddy Jones (which is technically in Magoun Square), 3 Little Figs, Highland Kitchen (which is in Spring Hill), House of Kebab, and Noor Mediterranean Grill. We also love to get ice cream at Q's Nuts and Italian ice at Y-Not Variety. For attractions, the community path from Cedar to Davis has giant animal sculptures, Elfland, a native pollinator garden, a mural, and constantly evolving art installations. 

LGC: The community path is the best! Just for fun now -- because I know you're not leaving Somerville -- if you could live anywhere else in the world, where might that be?

KH: It's a cliche, but I'd want to live by the ocean. I've spent a lot of time kayaking on the Mystic River, and I love having that option nearby, but it's not like being on the coast. 

LGC: Yeah, you don't quite get the salt air and ocean breezes from the Mystic! Any other fun facts you'd like to share? 

KH: We have backyard chickens! Their names are Floofy, Hazel, Chamomile or "Cammy," and Marion Cotesworth-Haye. I love how strongly Somerville supports urban agriculture.  

LGC: Great names and a great note to end on! Thanks for your time and good luck in September -- as a Cambridge resident, I obviously can't vote in that election, but I'll be cheering you on from across the border :)

In case you missed it at the beginning of this post, you can link to Kathleen's campaign page here. Also, if you'd like to help Kathleen meet her $5k per week fundraising goal, you can donate via her ActBlue link here.

And no matter who you are supporting, just remember to get out and vote!


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