Rep. Nick Collins announced his run on Friday to fill Linda Dorcena Forry’s vacated seat in the Massachusetts Senate.
Collins began to consider a Senate run after Dorcena Forry resigned last month and joined Suffolk Construction’s leadership team, according to an email from Amy Frigulietti, Collins’ campaign manager. In his campaign, Collins plans to focus on pervasive issues impacting the 1st Suffolk District, she wrote.
“Our senator needs to be someone who knows our neighborhoods and will improve education, understands the urgency of upgrading our transportation network, is committed to addressing the opioid epidemic and making our streets safe and will fight for the crucial community funding required to meet these challenges,” Frigulietti wrote.
A major aspect of Collins’ platform is to improve transportation options for working class people.
“Connecting Boston’s neighborhoods to rapidly growing economic centers is not only a matter of alleviating traffic congestion, but one of access, opportunity and fairness for all City residents,” Frigulietti wrote.
To address the lack of accessible public transportation, Frigulietti wrote, Collins has developed initiatives he will continue to advocate for that connect residents from the South Boston Waterfront to major economic centers.
“We’ve begun work on a Bus Rapid Transit pilot initiative to bring faster, better bus service to and from Dudley Station for residents to access the jobs centers on the South Boston Waterfront,” Frigulietti wrote. “The Rep. has also been strongly advocating to bring rail service connecting the Fairmount Corridor to the South Boston Waterfront.”
Collins also plans to increase and improve affordable housing options for vulnerable populations.
“Every day, we hear from constituents that rising costs of housing are forcing seniors and working families out of the city, threatening the character of our neighborhoods and driving one of the worst income inequality gaps in the nation,” Frigulietti wrote.
To address the needs of seniors in particular, Collins will continue to push back against efforts that eliminate resources seniors require, Frigulietti wrote.
“We are pushing back on predatory practices against our seniors, including the abrupt closing of Harborlights, a critical nursing facility service to seniors and families in our community and across the region,” Frigulietti wrote .
Speaking from personal experience, Miguel Nunez, 26, of Dorchester, said Boston is an increasingly expensive city.
“I think that Boston is becoming a city that … is an expensive city to live in, but I feel like people who work 40 hours a week should deserve to have their own place, afford to pay for a place,” Nunez said. “And the rent is so high, you barely have enough money to have food in your house. I have two jobs … and I still can’t keep up with my bills.”
Mika Klos-Shakaid, 24, of Roxbury, said she agreed gentrification is an issue that has left long-time Boston residents without affordable housing options.
“A lot of people who are my neighbors who’ve lived there for years and years and years — their rents are being raised,” Klos-Shakaid said. “A lot of students are taking over, from places like Northeastern [University, and] are pushing people who have lived there for ages out of the neighborhood.”
Collins is running to represent a minority-majority region consisting of South Boston, Dorchester, Mattapan and Hyde Park.
Jonathan Cohn, co-chair of the Elections and Endorsements Committee at Progressive Massachusetts, said Forcena Dorry, the first woman and person of color to represent her district, symbolized a shift away from the district’s typical power dynamic.
“I was disappointed to see Senator Linda Dorcena Forry leave her seat,” Cohn said. “[The seat] has been viewed as owned by the South Boston political machine — [a] very Irish, very white, very male political machine. And for the first time, you had somebody who wasn’t any of those.”
If Collins were to be elected, Cohn said the seat would return to the hands of the South Boston political machine, leaving vulnerable populations without a strong advocate for their needs.
“If the seat does end up going to Nick Collins, it loses that representation since it is a majority minority district,” Cohn said. “Given that it is an overwhelmingly blue district, I would hope for far more progressive than Nick Collins.”
Lawrence Zaborski, 56, of West Roxbury, said that while he values diversity in candidates, he prioritizes their qualifications and personal traits.
“I think [diversity] is important overall, however, I personally look for a person’s qualifications as well,” Zaborski said. “[I want a senator to be] accessible, so you can contact them if you have questions on issues.”
Eleanor Ho contributed to the reporting of this article.