SALEM — With state Rep. Paul Tucker (D-Salem) choosing to run for Essex County District Attorney, City Councilor-at-Large Domingo Dominguez and School Committee Vice Chair Manny Cruz both are seeking the Democratic nomination for Tucker’s seat — the 7th Essex District — which houses the City of Salem.
As of yet, no Republican candidates have announced their intention to run.
Cruz was the first to enter the race on Jan. 16 and has built his campaign message on the experience he has had as a legislative aide for Tucker for four years.
“I understand the legislature,” Cruz said. “The people need someone who understands the legislative body and has the experience.”
In addition to working on Beacon Hill, Cruz was the policy director for Latinos for Education, a nonprofit organization that seeks to help Latinos through education.
In terms of policy, Cruz said a priority of his is to complete the South Salem Commuter Rail Station, which would allow for students at Salem State University and North Shore Medical Center to have a public-transport option near them.
Dominguez launched his campaign two weeks later and is focusing his campaign on the need for public housing and has focused on the issue as councilor-at-large. During his three terms as councilor, Dominguez said public housing is the most important topic of discussion in the city and that the state needs to do its part to help residents in need of public housing.
“I think the legislature can do so much when it comes to public housing such as funding projects across the state,” Dominguez said. “That is where I want to put most of my efforts towards if I am elected.”
Despite the two eventually having to face each other in the primary on Sept. 6, the two said they respect each other and are friendly towards each other.
“We grew up in the same city,” Cruz said. “We went to the same schools and started families here. I don’t describe him as a rival or an opponent even though we have different experiences.”
Both Cruz and Dominguez broke ground when they were first elected to their respective offices, with Cruz being the first Afro-Latino elected to the School Committee and Dominguez becoming the first Dominican elected to the City Council. If either of them win the general election, they will become the first Latino elected to the Massachusetts State House from Salem.
In terms of endorsements, Salem Mayor Kimberley Driscoll announced she would be supporting Cruz during his campaign launch. He has also been endorsed by Salem City Councilors Alice Merkl and Meg Riccardi and fellow School Committee member Beth Anne Cornell.
Tucker has not endorsed either candidate yet.