Our Revolution Somerville Steering Committee - Candidate Statements (2019)

Anna Callahan

Thanks for considering me as a candidate for ORS’ steering committee. If elected, I hope to help build a stronger membership. In response to ideas presented at meetings, I occasionally hear “we don’t have the capacity.” I envision ORS as an organization with a vibrant, growing membership. I’d like to promote and track both an increase in people signing up as well as an increase in the percent of members who actively attend meetings and/or events. I have some ideas and would love to work with others on this goal.

I work at The Incorruptibles; we train people in a new model of political organizing. I’m also a member of Boston DSA, and there is currently an active project between BDSA and TI to build progressive power in a number of neighboring cities. I’m excited to keep ORS up to date about what is working in these other base-building efforts.

I fell in love with Somerville when I first moved here in 2003. In 2015, my husband convinced me to move to Berkeley, CA. My 2.5 years away only convinced me that Somerville is my forever home; I never want to leave again. While in Berkeley, I quit my job to volunteer full time for the Bernie campaign. Feel free to ask to see my Bernie tattoo.

Michael Bowler

I’ll sum up my belief in local politics this way: When we fight, we win. Period.

I have been involved with Our Revolution Somerville since its creation 2 years ago, and I care deeply about its ability to restore power to the people of the community. We don’t have to look beyond our own city to see that workers, unions, immigrants and middle class people are under attack. Our new Board of Alderpersons has taken some positive steps in the right direction but, make no mistake, the forces of big for-profit developers and speculation will continue to challenge our city and try to fracture the community. As a member of the steering committee this year, I have been active in both the Housing and Electoral Working Groups where I am excited to continue my work. In housing, we have successfully lobbied the Board of Alderpersons to take stronger stances on condo conversions, Airbnb and zoning. We also helped organize the campaign supporting the transfer tax home rule that passed. We need to do more to ensure Somerville builds affordable housing and thinks creatively about fighting back against displacement. I am excited to work on Community Land Trusts and the Right of First Refusal in the new year. On the Electoral Working Group, I am excited to help lead another round of municipal election endorsements and get out the vote efforts to bring the right people to office who support the value and dignity of all members of the community. It is only when we come together as a democratic force that we can make the change we want to see happen in our community. My passion for the issues, my experience with local politics and my ability to work well with other community organizers and activists sets me up to a be a strong member of the steering committee. I hope to have your support. Thank you.

Harriotte Ranvig

My name is Harriotte Ranvig. I have chosen to live in a cooperative community since I moved to Somerville in 1983. Like so many of us, I was shocked and awakened by the 2016 election results. My desire to serve on the ORS SC is fueled by observing and experiencing the ever-widening gap between the wealthy individuals and the rest of us. The SC is a key place for distributing and sharing information on key areas such as the lack of affordable housing, the lack of transparency in our city government, and issues with electoral planning and policies, just to mention a few. If elected, this would be my second term on the steering committee. As a blind senior, mother and grandmother I am passionately committed to having our city government and its regulations reflect all Somerville citizens. My life-long disability has not prevented me from work and travel although the challenges are many. I am committed to listen to our elected officials and to hold them accountable for the citywide policies entrusted to them. I am equally committed to listen and discuss with each individual seeking to understand and participate in the efforts to make Somerville fair and accessible to all of us, old and new residents.

Rachel Distler

I'm Rachel Distler. I have been involved with Our Revolution Somerville nearly since it's inception, having met many of our founding members through canvassing for Bernie Sanders. Since then I have been active with Our Revolution Somerville through attending meetings, phonebanking, canvassing, and organizing. In 2017 I was one of a slate of Our Revolution Somerville delegates to the MA state Democratic party convention, where we were able to get several progressive reforms ratified into the state party's platform. Though I was not a formal member, I have continued to participate in the Steering Committee meetings and efforts, despite being unable to vote on decisions. I have been a member of the ORS Labor Working Group over the past year, and am now co-chair. I am proud of what Our Revolution Somerville has been able to get done in Somerville in the past two years. I know the decisions made over the past year have often been very challenging, and sometimes controversial. But I have seen the Steering Committee uphold a strong commitment to integrity, our community, and to our core values as an organization. There is a lot of work to be done in our community. As an elected member of the steering committee, I hope to maintain the integrity and commitment I have witnessed in my predecessors, continue to stand with and for working people and marginalized communities within our city, push Somerville to live up to the progressive image it promotes, particularly in the area of environmental policies, worker protections, housing affordability, and supporting our immigrant communities. I hope that through participation on the ORS Steering Committee, I can help us to take a position as more of a leading force, proposing policies and pushing city governance out of the shadows and into the broad community discourse.

Rand Wilson

I have worked as a union organizer and labor communicator since the early 1980s. I have been dedicated to promoting good jobs and local resident hiring in Somerville. I was campaign chair for Matt McLaughlin's (2013) and Jesse Clingan's (2017) campaigns for Alderman. I was very active in Somerville on campaigns for the Community Preservation Act, earned sick time, $11 and $15 minimum wage, the Millionaires Tax, paid family and medical leave, and supporting progressive candidates for local and state office, etc. I was inspired by Sen. Bernie Sanders' 2016 primary campaign to volunteer as national coordinator for Labor for Bernie, a network of six national unions, over 100 local unions and nearly 50,000 union activists. I was also elected a Massachusetts CD-7 "Sanders delegate" to the July 2016 Democratic National Convention and an Our Revolution delegate to the Massachusetts Democratic Convention in June 2017. I have actively been helping to build Our Revolution at the state and local level in Massachusetts, while organizing Labor for Our Revolution to unite unions and other worker organizations to continue the political revolution. I served on the original ORS interim steering committee. I have been the ORS representative to the Our Revolution Massachusetts. I helped organize some of the early PILOT working group meetings and have helped convene Somerville Stands Together which ORS has actively supported. I ask for your support to continue building Our Revolution in Somerville.

Donald "DJ" Cronin

My name is Donald “DJ” Cronin and I am declaring my intention to run for re-election to the Steering Committee of Our Revolution Somerville. I am 44 years old and grew up in Lawrence and Methuen, MA and have been living in Somerville for 12 years. I am a long time Workers’ Rights Advocate and Union Organizer currently with SEIU Local 888. We represent many workers in the city and are members of the Somerville Labor Coalition which is a consortium of the city’s public sector unions. I have been involved in many campaigns around justice for workers in the city including union contract campaigns, fighting for enforcement of the city’s “living wage” ordinance, fighting for victims of wage theft at many Somerville businesses, and fighting for union construction jobs and local hire at all of the city’s ongoing development projects (Max Pack, Assembly Square, Union Square, etc.). I have also worked on many political campaigns including here in Somerville for candidates who fight for working class issues. In addition to my labor organizing I have been active in the community campaigns around affordable housing and fighting the opioid addiction crisis with the Ryan Harrington Foundation and as a founding member of Somerville Overcoming Addiction. I am running for re-election to the Our Revolution Somerville Steering Committee in order to continue advancing our work around labor and affordable housing issues including updating the city labor ordinances to include strong enforcement mechanisms and ensuring our endorsed candidates get elected or re-elected in next year’s municipal elections. Thank you for your consideration.

David Tisel

II'm running for the Steering Committee because I want ORS to continue its work on tenants' rights and affordability in Somerville. We've made some progress in the last year but there is so much more to do. I am an active member of the Housing Committee and I was an Our Revolution delegate to the last two State Conventions. As a member of the Steering Committee, I would bring my experience and passion for affordable housing and my ability to balance multiple perspectives while advocating for a social justice vision.My platform is simple: I want tenant organizing to become a core component of Our Revolution's work in Somerville.

Surjeet Paintal

I've volunteered with Our Revolution Somerville since April 2017, have served on the steering committee for the last ~2 years, and been a member of the Communications team and Affordable Housing Working group since since May 2017 and the last year, respectively.

I grew up in a community that was just as racially and economically diverse as Somerville. I firmly believe that being surrounded by all forms of diversity (racial, economic, gender, etc.) make us all better as a whole. And so that diversity is important to me not just because I don't want to see hard working families displaced, but because I also believe the only way for folks from different walks of life to understand each other is to spend time with each other as members of the same community. Having lived here for the past 14 years, I can see as well as anybody else that change is upon us and well on its way.

Our 2017 gains on the Board of Alderman were important, and defending those seats this year will be an important undertaking. Additionally, many of the problems that Somerville faces are regional problems (housing, immigration, workers rights, the environment, among others), and need to be addressed at the state level in order for us to be able to make effective gains within our own community. I believe much of the work ahead of ORS includes finding allies across MA to help hold our state legislators accountable to the interests of the people that they represent.

Guillermo Samuel Hamlin

Guillermo is best known as the Membership & Outreach Coordinator for MATV, Malden’s Media Center. At MATV, he engages their members to tell stories, learn video & audio production, and to collaborate with civic orgs and businesses.

At 18, he left his home in Peapack-Gladstone, NJ to pursue independent filmmaking. Instead, he began his career at Harvard University as a camera operator while studying nights for his bachelors at Harvard Extension School. Delighting in the rigorous track, he graduated with a concentration in Philosophy and Anthropology in 2013. He was then elected as the Boston Chapter President for the Harvard Latino Alumni Alliance. His creative, alumni, & community involvement are informed by his upbringing as a working immigrant student from Paraguay (now a naturalized U.S. citizen). He credits educational inclusion for his own advancement and advocates increasing opportunity for all people.

Guillermo ran for Ward 1 School Committee in Somerville in 2017, but was defeated in the preliminary election. He was endorsed by Our Revolution Somerville, SEIU 888, & the Ironworkers Local 7. His priorities were to comprehensively address youth unemployment, advocate for families facing a crisis in affordability, and to guarantee translation services in public meetings. He previously served on the Recreations Task Force for the city of Somerville. He presently serves on the board of the Community Action Agency Of Somerville (CAAS) & the Somerville Media Center.


"Hello ORS members,

I'd like your vote to join the ORS Steering Committee so that we may continue to work diligently to propel us forward. I'd like to advocate for more transparency, steadfastly demand quality while increasing housing affordability, & good local jobs from our Mayor as well as our BOA. I'm looking forward to listening to you and other ORS members, and I hope to speak to you at the citywide meeting."

~ Guillermo Samuel Hamlin

Jon Leonard

I'm running for reelection quite simply because the work is not done. Over the past two years, I've been an active member of the communications and electoral working groups, as well as participating intermittently in most of the other working groups. I'm proud of what we have accomplished so far, but the reality is that we've only just begun. So many of the objectives we've identified will require a lot more support, both locally and at the state level, so if reelected I will help get the organizing working group up and running again and prioritize growing our membership. In 2018, we really strengthened our working groups, so in 2019, we have real work that new members can plug into and energize around.

Nate Clauser

I joined Our Revolution Somerville shortly after its creation in 2017, and I’ve been an active member ever since. I participated in our effort at the 2017 Mass Dems Platform Convention that won progressive changes to the state party platform, and I knocked hundreds of doors for the ORS slate in the 2017 municipal election. In 2018, I worked on OR candidate forums for the elections in the 7th Congressional District and for Somerville’s State Senatorial and House districts. I now serve as a co-chair of the ORS Electoral Working Group, where we’ve begun planning for ORS’s 2019 municipal election effort. Having attended most of the Steering Committee meetings in 2018, I have a clear sense of the considerable time and effort it takes to serve the organization well on the Steering Committee. I commit to keep showing up and working toward a Somerville for the many, not the few. I ask for your vote.

Melinda Green

I am a current co-chair of the ORS Communications team and have been actively involved with the organization for over the last year and a half. My civic experience has since included working on local and state-level political campaigns, completing MassAlliance's Grassroots Campaign Training and serving as the Secretary for the Ward 2 Democrats.

All real estate development causes a ricochet effect in our community, one that plays a direct role in determining who can call Somerville home. Every issue is intersectional. How can Somerville boast of being a Sanctuary City when many of our immigrants—and long-time residents—can no longer afford to live here because housing is unattainable and employers find ways around paying livable wages? We need to have these conversations with our neighbors as much as we do our elected officials. If elected to our Steering Committee, I can take a greater role in shaping our organizational strategy around these critical issues in 2019.

Ben Bradlow

I am running for re-election to the Steering Committee because 2019 is a critical year for deepening the role of ORS in organizing for a more progressive politics in our city. Our city desperately needs a strong organization and movement that fights for the interests of the many against those of a chosen few. This is the year when we will need to both defend and extend our gains in our city’s electoral politics. From affordable housing and tenant organizations to dignified jobs and worker organizations, I want to continue to build a movement across our city for change. I furthermore want to create clearer connections between our fight against economic inequalities in our city to struggles for environmental justice and the rights of immigrants in our city. I believe that we have an opportunity in Somerville to join with the growing movement for municipal progressive politics across the country and the world.

I first moved to Somerville seven years ago, and currently live my wife and daughter near Union Square. I am active in Union Square development politics, and I currently serve as a member of the elected Board and the negotiating team of the Union Square Neighborhood Council. I have been involved in ORS since its first meetings in early 2017. I believe that 2019 is a year that will go a long way to determining ORS’ role in growing progressive politics in our city and beyond for many years to come. I would be honored to continue help lead our organization as part of the Steering Committee in order to build the organization and city to which we aspire.

Susan Eldridge

I joined Our Revolution Somerville after the disastrous 2016. 2016 made me realize that it is not enough to sit by the sidelines or complain on social media. If you want to see real change, you have to do your part to make that change happen. Since joining ORS, I have attended several rallies and Board of Aldermen meetings to push for affordable housing and good jobs. I have also participated in canvassing events for ORS candidates and served as a delegate at the last two Massachusetts State Democratic Conventions in support of the ORMA platform. I am a member of the West Somerville Neighborhood Association and the ORS Ward 7 group. I have also been active in the ORS Tufts Pilot Group where we are trying to get Tufts to pay their fair share in property taxes like they do in Boston and also provide a more comprehensive community benefits agreement.

So the next step in my unfolding journey is to state my intent to run for a position in the Our Revolution Somerville Steering Committee. I would like the opportunity to continue doing whatever I can to make sure that Somerville is a welcoming city for all, a city that values economic, social, racial, and environmental justice.

Larry Rich

My name is Lawrence (Larry) Rich and I am running as a candidate for the ORS steering committee.

Following Bernie Sanders’ campaign I joined Our Revolution and was on the interim steering committee [ISC] after the first City-wide ORS meeting. I am not currently on the Steering committee although I still attend most of the meetings as well as participating in Somerville Stands Together, The ORS Climate Working Group, the PILOT Working Group and Union United/Union Square Neighborhood Council. I have also helped with the City-Wide meetings.

I recently became a member of the Democratic Party and was an alternate delegate for Bob Massie (for Governor) at the State Democratic Convention. In addition I have worked on campaigns for Mark Niedergang for Alderman at Large, for Pat Jehlen for state senator, for Jill Stein for governor, for Bob Massie and Elizabeth Warren for Senator and for Bernie Sanders for President. I supported the ORS slate of Aldermen, a living wage for the Clarendon Hill Development, the Community Benefits Agreement for Union Square and the PILOT (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) negotiations with Tufts University. I have represented ORS at the Climate Coalition of Somerville and sat on a City of Somerville Climate Forward working group; I am a member of the Social Action Committee at Temple B’nai Brith and participate in the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO); I am on the steering committee of the Massachusetts Coalition to Save Darfur, I am a member of the New Hampshire Rebellion (to get money out of politics), a member of Voter Choice (for ranked choice voting), a member of SCATV and I am a former member of the board of the Community Action Agency of Somerville (CAAS).

I have lived in Somerville for over 35 years while my wife and I have raised 3 children in the city. I am currently retired from engineering, manufacturing, and business careers but keep busy with real estate development and management with interests in a low carbon footprint and in affordable housing. I turned 70 years old this year and feel that I can offer a mature perspective while engaging with many of the talented, dedicated and often much younger members of the steering committee.

Colleen Fitzpatrick

My name is Colleen Fitzpatrick and I have been a resident and renter in Somerville for six years, and a member of the ORS Steering Committee for the past year. I currently work as a Community Organizer at Fenway Community Development Corporation and have been exploring new ways to orchestrate community input around development, resist the influences of gentrification and increase the availability of affordable housing. I have found that this experience and knowledge base has made me a valuable contributor to the ORS Steering Committee. My background also includes five years of labor union organizing, and I believe strongly that building worker-led movements for better jobs and wages is an essential part of the solution to economic inequality.

Overall I am personally and keenly aware of the challenges that working people, and people of color, face as they struggle to remain in the City of Somerville. While it is always an uphill battle, I am extremely excited about the social and political changes this organization has helped spark. It is evident that our grassroots structure and local focus has already shifted the landscape of municipal politics. I am hopeful that by continuing to engage the broader community, build connection, and push for creative solutions that we will be able to achieve change where it matters most.

I would appreciate the opportunity to continuing serving on the ORS Steering Committee and working to build a powerful, democratically-based organization.