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North Suburban News

Hammar Tired of 'Inertia', Challenging Jason Lewis

Aug 25, 2018 08:13AM ● By Katie Lovett

MELROSE – Sam Hammar never thought she’d launch a political campaign and run for state office.

She was content in her career in technology, which included stints for both the City of Boston and the state government, as she and her husband raised their twins and remained active and engaged in their community.

But Hammar said she is too angry and weary from watching Beacon Hill operate in a “complete state of inertia.” As a concerned citizen, working mother, and advocate for others, the Democrat said she simply couldn’t watch from the sidelines any longer.

Hammar, 41, of Melrose, is challenging incumbent Jason Lewis for the 5th Middlesex District seat in the upcoming election. The primary is Sept. 4.

Hammar says she sees it as she and Lewis are “applying for the same job.” Every two years, she says, voters get to weigh in and decide who they think will best represent them, and “hire” that person.

“I couldn’t sit idly by and watch two more years of seeing nothing happen,” she said.

The current system isn’t working for the district’s working families, Hammar said. Legislation takes much longer than it should to be acted on and passed, she said, and problems that politicians should be working to fix aren’t even being discussed in some cases.

“The system is entirely broken,” she said.

Current politicians are “too beholden to the leadership” and “lack[ing] political courage” to take a stand on issues they should and to act as the voice of the people, Hammar said.

As an outsider without such allegiances, Hammar wants to fix the system, and stand up and fight for those issues she feels are being ignored.

“We definitely need some voices there that are willing to advocate for constituents,” Hammar said.

Her platform includes fighting the “crippling costs” of childcare and preschool, and funding for universal pre-K. After giving birth to her now-7-year-old twins, Hammar said her entire paycheck was spent on childcare costs.

“That is so egregious to me, in Massachusetts, the most progressive state in the country,” Hammar said.

Leaving her job to stay home with her children wasn’t an option she added.

Exiting the technology field for four or five years would have been the equivalent of “four or five generations” at the rate the field progresses and changes. Also, when women re-enter the work field after a gap to raise children, compensation can be significantly impacted, she said.

However, the issue isn’t being addressed, or even discussed, at the State House, Hammar said.

Other key areas of her platform include public education, immigration, fighting the opioid crisis, addressing the burden of student loan debt and advocating for free public higher education, and working to reform zoning codes for cities and towns.

“Our zoning laws are so antiquated compared to the rest of the country,” Hammar said. Municipalities with building projects are restricted by the zoning codes imposed by the state, she added.

Campaigning full-time Hammar said she spends her time knocking on doors and meeting with voters. She also relies on social media, and of course, her technology skills. She built her own website where she uploads content ranging from her resume to informational videos.

“Social media has been phenomenal,” she added.

After working inside government, Hammar said she is enjoying meeting with constituents and discussing policy and issues.

Hammar, who first moved to Massachusetts in 2000, says she voted for her opponent when he ran. But now it’s time for someone with more political courage.

“He’s fine for the system that we have,” she added. “That system is broken and it’s not working for me or my family, or any of the families in this district. We need to disrupt the way the system functions.”

After graduating from the University of Florida with a B.A. in political science, Hammar embarked on a career that including teaching in the Boston schools, and working as a manager of special events for the American Cancer Society.

But the bulk of Hammar’s career has been in data and technology. She’s had positions with the Boston Redevelopment Authority and MassIT, the state’s technology office, working on state government from the inside, using technology to help other public servants do their jobs.

And, she spent almost two years, until this past February as the director of digital engagement for the state’s Office of the Treasury, where she sought to engage the office with its constituents via technology, increasing civic engagement and providing more transparency and openness with data. As a state employee, Hammar left her job when she announced her candidacy for office.

 

For more information on Sam Hammar and her candidacy, visit https://www.samhammar.org.

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