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Sonia Chang-Díaz delivers remarks at the 2022 MassDems Convention

RemarksJun 4, 2022

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BOSTON, MA - Massachusetts State Senator and Gubernatorial candidate Sonia Chang-Díaz spoke today at the 2022 Mass Dems Convention.

Transcript below:

Hello Massachusetts Democrats! 

Thank you, Councilor Louijeune, and thank you to all of you — it’s an honor to be here today.

My friends, I’m Sonia Chang-Díaz, and I’m running to be your Democratic nominee for Governor of Massachusetts.

Now, read any newspaper and you’ll see that political insiders say I’m not favored to win this primary. I don’t have the most money, and I’m not the preferred candidate of the Beacon Hill establishment.

There’s a reason for that. When you spend your career pushing for change, it can make those in power uncomfortable. And sometimes you pay a price for that.

But, friends, that’s a price I’m willing to pay — because we know the cost of inaction is so much higher. Today, housing and childcare costs continue to climb, commutes get longer, and year after year, we fight hard to elect Democrats, only to see inequality and injustice persist and grow.

It’s easy to look around and to feel despair, to feel resignation about what we can accomplish. To feel like the best we can ever do is settle for a little less — and retreat to safer paths, rather than the right ones.

My friends, if you have felt these things, if you’re feeling them right now… I want you to know I have felt them too.

But in these moments, I think back to one of my most profound experiences in politics. 

It started in 2014.

That year, I was appointed the sole person of color on a 21-person commission tasked with updating our state’s aging education funding formula. Even though Massachusetts had some of the worst achievement gaps in the nation for poor kids and kids of color — it was understood that legislative leaders did not want us to touch the issue of inequality. We were supposed to get in and get out with the least expensive recommendations possible. Do the bare minimum, and walk away saying we’d taken a step in the right direction.

Now, the silent rule on Beacon Hill is that if leadership doesn’t want you to do something, that’s supposed to be the end of it. And anyone who goes against their wishes, will face consequences.

But many years before I was a legislator, I was a public school teacher in Lynn. Every day I saw how there was never enough paper in the supply closet, kids coming to school without winter coats, and too many students on each teacher’s roster. 

So when I sat on that commission and saw the direction we were headed in, I thought about my students in Lynn. 

And so, even knowing it would cost me dearly, I spoke up. I refused to follow the rules. I made it my mission for the next 4 years to ensure the solution kids across our state needed would actually become law.

We knew getting it passed wouldn’t be easy. We faced unwilling leaders in the Governor’s office and the legislature. 

But brave people, in key moments, used the power they had to make the right things happen.

Pat Francomano and Dave Verdolino, two suburban members of that commission, dared to stick their necks out for students in other school districts — even when their own communities would’ve been safer… if they’d said nothing.

Rafaela Polanco – and hundreds of low-income, single-moms like her, fearful of speaking English at a microphone — dared to show up in hearing rooms and risk her time and faith on a system that was rarely, if ever, responsive to her. 

Teachers union leaders dared to break the “go along to get along” rules of Beacon Hill and risk being iced out by legislative leadership.

Members of the House organized across both chambers against what the Speaker wanted, and told him they would vote no on anything less than 100% for our poorest kids.

It took four years and people across our state finding the courage to stand up to the powers of obstruction. But in the end, we won the single most transformational reform for our education system in a quarter century. We won 1.5 billion dollars in new funding for our children’s schools and action on racial and economic inequality in our classrooms. 

Now along the way, because I took on this fight, legislative leaders stripped me of my position as Chair of the Education Committee and my seat on the Ways & Means Committee. It cost me favor with Beacon Hill leadership and, frankly, better pay. 

But I’ve been all over this state, in schools and community meetings. And everywhere I go, I hear that these new funds are being used for counselors and social workers. I lost the trappings of power. But kids here in Worcester today have support staff and school counselors they never would’ve had otherwise.

That’s a trade I’d make every time.

And friends, that’s what courage gets you.

We know what we need to do to meet this moment for working families. Our party platform is an inspiring call of moral conviction built by each of us here, together. 

It says that we support Medicare For All because no one should have to choose between filling their prescriptions and keeping the heat on. 

It says that we should make public college debt free because every student should have a quality education, without getting crushed by student loans.

It says that we support fare-free public transit because it’s long past time to stop balancing the books on the backs of our poorest neighbors.

I am the only candidate who supports these core tenets of our platform, and I am here to tell you that we can get there — but we have to be clear-eyed. The reason we haven’t achieved these things yet isn’t due to a lack of resources, or public opinion, or even Republicans in our state. We have a Democratic supermajority in both chambers of the legislature. It’s because too few of our political leaders display the same acts of courage that working people do every day. 

So here’s my promise to you: when I am elected Governor, we won’t just talk about these ideas in our platform - we will make them the policies of our Commonwealth.

We will pass a Green New Deal to win the fight against climate change and create tens of thousands of good paying jobs. 

We will walk the walk on racial justice and make sure the next time the federal reserve does a survey, no one’s net-worth is only $8.00.

We will deliver reproductive justice, not just on paper, but in reality – no matter your income, race, or zip code.

We will pass a millionaires’ tax, we will stop Uber and Lyft’s anti-worker power-grab, and we will establish universal preschool for every child in this Commonwealth. 

What it will take to achieve these things is for all of us to put courage over politics, starting right now.

Let’s write the next chapter of courage in this Party. Find the next set of heroes who’ll make the difference between accepting the status quo and winning justice for those who lack it.

Now, look around you. Those heroes are here today.

Trust that feeling you have in your gut that says if we had chosen leaders who were more interested in using their power — rather than just holding onto it — we might not be where we are today on Roe, on the pandemic, on gun control, and on racial injustice.

My friends, why else do we do politics? Why do we do all this work of turning out to caucuses, collecting signatures, converging together here at convention? Is it not to forge the world into the society we believe is possible? 

Maybe it’s because of my dad’s experience getting to space, but the phrase moonshot has never been much of a deterrent to me. 

So what if this campaign doesn’t have the most money. So what if we don’t have the establishment’s blessing. Does that define where you want to be in this life?

Be courageous, my fellow Democrats. Risk disagreeing with your friends. Risk believing that what you are told is inevitable is a lie, and fight for what you truly want and need. 

Risk losing, but standing up for what you actually believe in. You’ll feel great, I promise.

That’s why I am asking you to vote for the values you and our party share. 

Vote for action, not just words. 

Vote to put courage over politics.

Thank you.