Nick Matthew is a teacher and community organizer who began his career with the Chelsea Public Schools. His campaign includes a youth-led initiative called the Southeastern Massachusetts Mutual Aid Project, which provides COVID-19 relief to Massachusetts communities.
What should high school students know about your platform?
A lot of the policies I care most about are policies that really affect students from low-income communities and communities of color. But in my experience, that also reaches out to schools that are more privileged, and Newton has that reputation. And so the policies I care about most are frankly childcare and paid family leave. I discovered that when I was a teacher — I taught for 10 years; I taught in Cambridge, I taught at Chelsea — and almost without fail, the students who really struggled back then, they were the ones who came from unstable homes. I had students who were physically and emotionally abused. I had students who were shot and killed. And I can’t convey to you how frustrating it is to have a teacher to commit yourself to try to help students in low-income communities and not have any power to actually save them from a lot of these issues that are affecting them. Not only physically, but there’s no way you can come to the classroom and expect a kid to ace a standardized test when their parents have been fighting all night, or they have been moving from house to house because they can’t afford to stay there.
I strongly, strongly believe that if we really want to close the gaps in our country, if we really want to help the privileged and the underprivileged come together in terms of their living a good, high quality life, that it really starts in the home and empowering working families to be able to afford to pay the bills with good wages to have healthcare so that they aren’t burdened with debt and to ensure that parents can stay at home and raise their kids with paid family leave.
As someone who has never held a political office, why do you think you would be a good fit to represent this district?
The recurring theme that I find is that I’m up against a lot of people who have either a lot of financial clout or they have a lot of political clout, or both. So I’m not going to name names, but those people have been really good at rubbing elbows with people in power. They’re really good at getting endorsements from other school committee members, other selectpeople, and they’re really good at rubbing elbows with people who can fund them.
Our team is 100% dedicated to trying to help those in greatest need, and the work that we’re doing is actually helping people, so we’re launching mutual aid projects across the county, across the district. We are trying to organize parents so that they can advocate for more affordable childcare because it’s extremely expensive Massachusetts.
Please look at our campaign and realize what kind of politician you want to have in office. Do you want someone who says the buzzwords and says, ‘Hey, I want all these policies’? Or do you want someone who’s actually an organizer, who’s out there and actually trying to help people with living better lives and actually serving those in greatest need?
What message do you have to the people of the Massachusetts 4th Congressional District during this time of great economic and social upheaval?
District 4 is unlike every other district in Massachusetts. You have incredibly wealthy people in the north, and you have incredible poverty in the south. And this is really your opportunity to bridge that gap. If you really want to have a meaningful life, if you really want to make an impact, go to Fall River. Try to have mutual aid and donate goods to Fall River. Work with people down there and start doing community organizing to actually make a real impact instead of just posting a black box on Facebook or social media. Try to figure out how you can help people in your own district, and I think that requires a little bit of courage and requires a little bit of planning, but you could definitely make a huge impact just working with your own district, and I hope people start doing that with our campaign.
To learn more about Nick Matthew, visit https://nickmatthew2020.com/.
To learn more about the Southeastern Massachusetts Mutual Aid Project, visit https://semamutualaid.org/.