To the editor:

In 2018, I attended the March for Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C., with my 11-year-old daughter.

The voices of these young activists against gun violence sent a powerful message to lawmakers; their generation would not tolerate policies that are unfair or unjust.

I left that weekend full of hope and ready to begin my campaign for state representative for the 1st Essex District. It was always my plan that if I were to win, I would serve a couple of terms and then make way for the younger generation.

Running for office is something I am proud of and don’t regret for a moment. It opened up new opportunities to work on the issues I care about and to meet people who were passionate about our district.

One of those passionate people was Amber Hewett. We met for coffee in the summer of 2019, shortly before she decided to run for state representative for the 1st Essex District, serving Amesbury, Newburyport and Salisbury.

I was immediately impressed by her awareness of the issues that impact our community. A climate activist at the National Wildlife Federation, Amber understands that intersectional environmentalism embodies so much more than protecting our planet; it is also about protecting people through racial and social justice.

Amber has spent many hours at the Statehouse. She knows the systems and structures currently in place are not fair or equitable. Change is desperately needed to improve policies related to affordable housing, education, and environmental and racial justice issues. 

I believe we need a state representative who doesn’t lead from behind and who is willing to stand up for what is right, regardless of party. I recently saw Rep. James Kelcourse at the BLM rally in Amesbury shortly after the killing of George Floyd.

Hundreds of residents showed up and it was encouraging to see his presence as someone who has the ability to make policy and effect real change. Yet when it came time to vote on H. 4860, “An Act to reform police standards and shift resources to build a more equitable, fair and just Commonwealth that values Black lives and communities of color,” he voted no.

Amber Hewett, on the other hand, continues to be a visible figure at many BLM rallies, large and small. She is there to listen and to learn. She is not simply there for a photo op.

Our community knows the difference between rhetoric and results; we know the difference between pandering and producing. Not being racist isn’t enough. We must be actively anti-racist, which requires action.

One concrete action you can take is to vote for lawmakers who will support anti-racist policies. I strongly believe Amber Hewett will produce the results we need and will be a strong voice for all the citizens of Amesbury, Newburyport and Salisbury.

Please join me in voting for her in the Sept. 1 primary and in the general election on Nov. 3.

Jennifer Rocco-Runnion

Newburyport

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