By Beth Treffeisen
Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim announced last week that he is going to be a candidate for Secretary of State, promising broad new expansions of voting rights, greater transparency in government, and stronger oversight of businesses across the state.
Zakim will be running against the current officeholder Democrat William F. Galvin who has held the position since 1994, and is now serving in his sixth consecutive term.
The Secretary of State is the principal public information official in the state of Massachusetts and is in charge of overseeing historical records and preservation, public records, and the registry of deeds.
“It’s time for a new era of leadership on Beacon Hill focused on inclusion instead of exclusion – on voting rights, access to government and on protecting us all from bad actors in big business,” said Zakim. “When our federal government attempts to roll back rights, we need a Secretary of State committed to fighting every day to protect our values and principles here in Massachusetts.”
Zakim’s move to run for Secretary of State comes within the same month he was re-elected to his position as the District 8 City Councilor. Zakim is confident that he will be able to serve his constituents as he embarks on his next election, and cited that he has an aggressive agenda to move forward in the City Council.
“Just this morning I had a half a dozen e-mails from residents from a zoning code problem in Mission Hill to a late night construction complaint in Beacon Hill,” said Zakim. “I’ve done this for the past two terms and I am committed to that.”
“To me there is nothing more important than serving the people who elected me.”
Zakim, a 33-year-old attorney and community activist, has represented District 8 (Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Mission Hill, Fenway-Kenmore, West End) on the City Council since 2014. He chairs the City Council’s Committee on Housing and Community Development and the Special Committee on Civil Rights.
Zakim said his first priority as Secretary of State is to work with cities and towns to expand access to early voting, easier voter registration and aggressively promote innovative ideas to improve voter turnout in all elections.
Last month, Zakim filed legislation proposing to increase voting access for all eligible Bostonians.
In the past, Zakim has authored the Boston Trust Act to improve cooperation between immigrant communities and law enforcement, prohibiting the detention of resident basked on immigration status.
Additionally, he convened hearings to investigate serious health and safety concerns faced by Boston residents in rental housing, issuing the first City Council subpoena in decades to compel testimony from recalcitrant lords. The hearings ultimately led to improved landlord accountability and safer, cleaner apartments for residents.
Zakim hopes to take what he has worked on as City Councilor and bring it to the state level in this role.
“The same ideas and beliefs that many of my residents and neighbors have of inclusiveness, accountability, and opening up government to all; I want to take them across the state,” said Zakim.
Zakim’s parents instilled a strong sense of social and economic justice in him and his two younger sisters. His father, Lenny, was the longtime head of the Anti-Defamation League, and lived out those values every day in his work throughout Greater Boston by building and growing coalitions amongst Massachusetts’s many diverse groups.
“The passion for inclusiveness is in my DNA, and I remember every single day that I am a public servant,” said Zakim. “I will never forget where I came from and who I am here to serve. And I believe the Secretary of State’s role is a perfect way to expand the ideals my family and I – and the people who share our values – hold so dear.”