Factor Welcomes Uphill Battle
CHELMSFORD -- During a cold Friday evening rush hour, Danny Factor and a group of supporters held signs in front of the Chelmsford Public Library, happily taking in the friendly honks, waves and thumbs-ups they received from people in the cars passing by.
“I’m voting for Danny because I believe in the human values he expresses in his campaign,” said supporter Charles Phillips, of
Concord. “The Green Party deserves to be part of the political conversation in Massachusetts.”
Factor, 56, of Acton, is used to fighting an uphill battle. Each of the times he’s run for state-level office -- secretary of state in 2014 and state representative in 2016 -- the Green-Rainbow Party activist came in last against the major-party candidates.
Running again for 14th Middlesex District state rep, he’s well aware the common wisdom is that Democratic candidate Tami Gouveia, also of Acton, is all but destined to take over the seat about to be vacated by longtime Democratic state Rep. Cory Atkins.
But, he believes, it doesn’t have to be this way. Massachusetts and the U.S. don’t have to be trapped in a broken, two-party system forever, Factor said -- and he plans to keep on until other political voices have a seat at the table.
“I aim as someone from outside the two-party system to bring transparency to Massachusetts, and to be able to pass progressive legislation that will help average people,” he said.
Without a Republican in the race, Factor has enjoyed more visibility than he might otherwise have. Participating in local debates and voter forums alongside Gouveia, Factor said he feels the discourse has been substantive and illuminating for voters, allowing the candidates to “honestly speak about what we see as solutions rather than rhetoric.”
But it shouldn’t have to take an absence of a major party candidate for a third party candidate to gain meaningful consideration, he said.
Factor is a proponent of ranked-choice voting. He sees many advantages, including removing the “spoiler effect.”
“I can understand someone not wanting to vote for a Green because they don’t want to elect a right-wing Republican,” Factor said. “The solution to that is to support ranked-choice voting. There’s no reason why we can’t have three, four, even five voices on the ballot. More candidates is good for democracy.”
Factor grew up in a household of liberal Democrats in the South Bronx, hearing the stories of his Holocaust survivor mother and the atrocities the Nazis inflicted upon the older generations of his family in eastern Poland.
Factor’s great-grandparents were among about 1,500 Jews killed in the 1942 Jozefow Massacre; other relatives died in concentration camps.
His mother was among the lucky members of the family evacuated to Central Asia, making it all the way to Uzbekistan. Unable to return home, they came to the U.S. in 1949.
Factor’s parents were politically active against the Vietnam War, and his father was in Washington, D.C. to witness Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Factor’s upbringing instilled in him the strong conviction that everyone deserves respect and dignity, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, immigration status, prisoner or free, he said.
Living in Massachusetts the past 20 years, Factor said he’s seen that the Statehouse is “run mostly as a private club,” that has exempted itself from transparency laws that cities and towns must abide by.
The Legislature is about 80 percent Democrat, yet the most progressive bills that could have a positive effect on average people -- such as single-payer health care and the Safe Communities Act, to protect undocumented immigrants -- don’t even make it out of committee, he said.
“The Democratic Statehouse could pass any bill that it wants, but it doesn’t because it prefers to cater to the entities that fund the elected officials’ campaigns,” Factor said.
He said he and Gouveia are both progressives, and largely agree on most issues. They also worked together in Factor’s activist group, Let’s Make Acton a Sanctuary Town, that resulted in an agreement that Acton police would not ask questions about immigration status, he said.
But because his party is not beholden to corporate interests, he’s able to take much bolder stances on the issues, Factor said.
Danny Factor at a glance:
* He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Northwestern University and a law degree from Vermont Law School and works as a public-interest attorney.
* He’s served eight years on the Acton Commission on Disabilities and sits on the Board of Directors of Green Acton, a local environmental organization.
* He’s an elected member of the Green-Rainbow Party State Committee.
* His partner of 28 years, Nadia Franciscono, died last year of complications of cystic fibrosis. They have a 21-year-old son, Mandela Franciscono, named after the late South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and President Nelson Mandela.
Among his top initiatives
* Create a “Green New Deal” to halt climate change and end poverty in Massachusetts by 2030, by moving to 100 percent renewable energy, creating safe, living wage jobs and shifting the tax burden to polluters;
* Institute complete public financing of campaigns and term limits for elected officials;
* Form a coalition of state reps from around the country to demand Congress to cut military spending by at least 50 percent and give money back to states as a “peace dividend”;
* Lower the voting age to 15 and expand voting rights to the incarcerated and all immigrants;
* Reform public schools to engage in teaching peacemaking and critical thinking;
* Institute community-run oversight committees in charge of police hiring and operations.
The 14th Middlesex District consists of Chelmsford Precincts 1 and 9; Acton Precincts 1, 2 and 6; Concord; and Carlisle.
Follow Alana Melanson at facebook.com/alana.lowellsun or on Twitter @alanamelanson.