So often with candidates running for public office, one must rest the decision to vote for them primarily on their words.
In her short political career as a candidate for state Senate, however, Chelsea Kline has amassed some impressive actions.
Kline is running in the Sept. 4 Democratic primary to replace former Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, who resigned following censure by an independent ethics investigation. Kline will be the only name on the ballot, and is facing multiple write-in candidates. That fact alone speaks highly of Kline.
Rosenberg, when ascending in 2014 to the Senate presidency, claimed that he would create a firewall between his personal life and his professional work. And yet, the Boston Globe later uncovered that Rosenberg shared his Senate email password and schedule with his now-estranged husband Bryon Hefner. The Globe also reported on sexual assault allegations against Hefner and on reports that Rosenberg, though seemingly unaware of actual criminal activity, had allowed his husband’s known destructive behavior to go unchecked.
While other candidates waited to jump into the race — out of respect for Rosenberg as they have all claimed — further and further damning evidence mounted in Boston Globe investigative pieces about Rosenberg’s role in enabling, or at the very least ignoring, his husband’s troubling behavior.
Only Kline had the political courage to step forward and challenge the sitting and popular incumbent, offering voters a choice if the ethics investigation should confirm the Globe’s already robust reporting.
As it turned out, the ethics report not only backed up what the Globe had already reported, including that Rosenberg had indeed shared his Senate password, but offered further insights into Rosenberg’s questionable judgment with regard to allowing his husband to continue to interact with his Senate staff.
Despite the Globe’s reporting, the write-in candidates only jumped into the race after Rosenberg had stepped aside in disgrace this May.
Since then, Kline has consistently been outspoken and shown leadership as a candidate in the race — most notably when she called out fellow-candidate David Murphy, who until recently resided in Newton, for inappropriately commenting on her looks and touching her shoulder at a campaign event.
“These things happen to women all the time, but I’ll admit I was pretty shocked to get it from an opponent,” Kline wrote on Facebook. “We should be engaging on the issues and the stories and experiences of our constituents. Unfortunately, this is one experience that’s far too common.”
Murphy apologized and the broader community was rewarded with a teachable moment about sexism that never would have come about without Kline having spoken up.
More recently, Kline showed up with two of her children to a small, peaceful rally at the Greenfield Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility to speak out against immigrant mistreatment and family separation. She didn’t come with campaign signs and one might have missed her among the other concerned citizens, but her presence spoke volumes about her commitment to speaking up for immigrant communities.
Two days earlier, citing a lack of consensus, the state Legislature removed four provisions that would have offered protections for immigrants from their state budget, and the budget passed nearly unanimously.
Kline, with her actions, has shown courage and will that is so often lacking from our state Legislature, which has passed up multiple opportunities to fortify immigrant rights and is lagging on single-payer health care, funding for higher education, and other topics under siege by the federal government under the control of President Donald Trump and his Republican lackeys in Congress (and on the Supreme Court).
The other candidates, though more politically experienced, have not shown they possess Kline’s political courage during the campaign, and such courage is vital in Boston when representing a region whose interests are often ignored in our state government.
In addition to her courageousness, Kline has many other qualities to recommend her. Kline’s clear support for immigrant rights, single-payer health care, and education on all levels is evident. While she has sometimes been criticized for a lack of specificity in how to tackle these plans, her commitment has never been in doubt. And the tenacity she has demonstrated through her own personal life — as a single mother working her way through Smith College and Harvard Divinity School, at times on food stamps — indicates she will do what it takes to be successful on Beacon Hill.
As a strong woman candidate, Kline is already inspiring leaders of all genders with her candidacy. Having a Senator Kline help tip the gender balance in the state Legislature, which is now about three-quarters men, is an added bonus.
The write-in candidates running for the seat will spend the remaining weeks before the Sept. 4 primary instructing their voters how to vote for them.
But the smart vote in this instance is to make your mark next to the only candidate with the strength of purpose to get her name on the ballot.