To the Editor:
Three months ago this week, I was sworn in as your local state representative. It is an honor to wake up every day and do the job I love — serving you and the Vineyard in the State House.
On the campaign trail, I talked a lot about fighting for our environment, combating our opioid and heroin epidemic, and supporting affordable and workforce housing. We hit the ground running to fulfill that promise by filing six bills in the first two weeks that address these critical issues facing our district. The bills include a) setting up a commission to connect those struggling with opioid addiction with the best long-term treatment options, b) creating a housing bank to fund workforce and affordable housing, c) establishing a commission to combat ocean acidification, d) standing in solidarity with the Paris Climate Agreement’s greenhouse gas emission standards — and more.
Committee assignments were made at the State House last month, and I requested those that focus on the biggest issues facing our district. My top three choices were: 1) Environment, Natural Resources & Agriculture, 2) Mental Health, Substance Misuse & Recovery, and 3) Municipalities & Regional Government. I was named to all three — a rarity for a freshman!
Accessibility, engagement, and transparency are the foundation of good government, and in that vein I have spent a lot of time on-Island, attending 26 events and meetings, covering all six towns, over the past three months! We organized a climate-policy event with the world’s leading think tank on climate research, the Woods Hole Research Center, and Vineyard Power. We discussed opioid addiction at the hospital with DPH Commissioner Monica Bharel, and strategized with the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group on water quality and ocean acidification. Senator Julian Cyr and I teamed with We Stand Together to host a legislative forum at the Hebrew Center that more than 300 Vineyarders attended, on Super Bowl Sunday! As someone who has worked in civil rights, I’ve made involvement in social justice and fighting for the most vulnerable on-Island a top priority. I was honored to participate in community forums on immigration and LGBTQ youth.
It is very important to me that all Vineyarders know that our office is here for you. My email is email@example.com, and our office line (subject to change, as our office will move this month) is 617-722-2425. We are also incredibly lucky to have the brilliant and committed Kaylea Moore as Island liaison; you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I want to leave you with an optimistic, hopeful note about politics — something we all need these days. Our freshman class in the State House is probably the youngest and most diverse in a generation: Two-thirds of the class is under 35, and there is even someone four years younger than me! We are an energized group, united in addressing climate change and fighting for social and economic justice. Our class makes me very hopeful for the future of Massachusetts.
Dylan Fernandes, state representative
Cape and Islands