Boston University Statehouse Program
This article was also published in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
BOSTON – Two years ago, Andre Green was elected to his seat on the Somerville School Committee. He recalled knocking on doors with his child in tow – not as a campaign tactic, but as a consequence of the high cost of child care.
“Even now I (am) able to serve on the school committee because of a perfect storm of my two jobs (and) paying low rent on housing,” Mr. Green said. “If we had to juggle and had to pay for child care, my service wouldn’t be possible today.”
Mr. Green testified alongside state legislators on Beacon Hill in support of a bill to allow political candidates to use campaign funds to pay for child care. These expenses would only be covered when the candidate is working or attending events directly related to their race.
Currently campaign funds can be used for expenses directly related to a campaign, including renting a tuxedo for events. But not child care.
Advocates say they hope the proposal will allow more working parents to represent their communities in public office.
“Someone who’s a working parent and who would like to run for office may not be able to enter the arena due to child care obligations,” said Rep. Mike Connolly, D-Cambridge, the House sponsor. “Let’s make it easier for working parents to run for office.”
Supporters said allowing candidates to apply campaign funds to child care would especially impact women who hold fewer seats in government. Rep. Christine Barber, D-Somerville, points to her municipality where women hold just 20 percent of seats in government.
“It’s not that women can’t campaign; it’s that women don’t run at the same rates as men do,” she said.
Ms. Barber referred to a survey from the Brookings Institute which suggests child care can create a barrier of entry for women in politics. The survey of potential female candidates found that women are 15 times more likely to bear the majority of child care responsibility.
At the end of his testimony, Mr. Green pointed to the opportunities the bill could create for women and minorities, who are more likely to run single-parent households.
“If we want to see a Massachusetts government that looks more like Massachusetts, we have to make it possible for (these) candidates to run,” he said.