Jesse Mermell is a former Brookline Select Board member, Communications Director for Governor Deval Patrick and senior leader at Planned Parenthood. She is endorsed by Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley.
What should high school students know about your campaign?
One of the reasons I believe so strongly in the power of youth activism is because that’s the movement that I come from. I wouldn’t be running for Congress if I hadn’t been an active high school student. We’ve built our campaign around that.
If you look at the folks who are literally the muscle of my campaign — high school students and college students and young people who aren’t just phone banking, but they’re helping us craft policies, they’re making sure that the direction of the campaign is in line with what the future of the country should be. And so we’re supporting things like tuition free public colleges and technical schools and community colleges. We’re one of the leading voices supporting the Green New Deal. We’ve been out at protest after protest after protest, not just me, but my team, making sure that we are abundantly clear that Black Lives Matter and that racial justice is absolutely central to our work.
How has your campaign been impacted by the coronavirus? What challenges and opportunities have you encountered?
Like everybody, it was an adjustment that we had to make — particularly back there in March, everything happened pretty quickly. When you put your campaign plan together, you certainly don’t anticipate that you’re going to spend months running for the United States Congress from a couch and from that little green camera dot on the top of your computer.
Yes, of course we were doing tele-town halls and virtual house parties and are still doing all of that, but we also have been doing fun stuff. I have been regularly Zooming with a Brownie troop in the central part of the district and the other day I did a Mamma Mia! sing along with them by Zoom — that’s something I never would have done if we hadn’t been campaigning the way that we are. We did coloring book pages that we sent out over social media and encouraged folks who were looking for things for their kids to do to complete the coloring book pages, which are like my dog holding a “Jesse Mermell for Congress” sign and things like that, and either share the finished product on social media or send it to us in the mail, and we could display it in the office when it’s safe to do so.
What makes you a good fit to represent this district?
I stand out as someone who uniquely has the professional experience and the lived experience to represent this whole district. I’ve been working for the past 20 years to fight to create a fairer economy [and] a healthcare system that works for everyone. And I haven’t just been in these fights, I’ve been winning on them.
I was on the eight-person team that negotiated the Paid Family and Medical Leave law here in Massachusetts. It’s being implemented right now; it’s the strongest paid family medical leave law in the country. I ran External Affairs at Planned Parenthood during the heart of the Affordable Care Act debate, fighting to make sure that reproductive healthcare was included in preventive care in Obamacare. You know, I have the type of experience that can deliver results that can fight back against Donald Trump and his cronies in Washington in a way that I think stands out in the field. And in a district that we know includes Brookline and Newton and Wellesley and some places where folks have experienced great good fortune, though people struggle everywhere, particularly as we go through this crisis, the district also includes Attleboro and Taunton and Fall River and places that have been economically ignored for a long, long time.
I grew up in a place a whole heck of a lot more like the southern part of this district than it is like where I’ve lived as an adult in Brookline. I grew up in an old farming industry community that really crumbled economically. When I was a kid, my dad opened a small business, and times were very, very tough.
To learn more about Jesse Mermell, visit https://jessemermell.com/.