Local Government and Politics, News

Marblehead Activist Runs For Rep

This article was published 1 year(s) and 4 month(s) ago.

Jenny Armini, candidate for 8th Essex District state representative, released an education plan on Monday that focuses on post-pandemic support. (Spenser Hasak)

MARBLEHEAD — After years of speech writing and helping others get elected to local and federal governments, Marblehead-based Jennifer “Jenny” Armini is ready for her return to public service.
“I love this district. It is a microcosm of all that is great about Massachusetts,” said Armini, who is running for the State Representative position for the 8th Essex District, vacated this year by Lori Ehrlich.
In her eyes, new immigrants, long-time residents, lobstermen and fishermen, tech and finance entrepreneurs, small businesses, seniors and young people all make the 8th district a treasure. However, Armini believes that the pandemic has created new problems, exacerbated old ones, and exposed deep inequities both in the district and the state, and all around the country.
“We are at an inflection point,” Armini said. “It is a moment that calls out for leadership and somebody who can bring people together to solve big problems. And I am that person.”
She makes this statement with confidence. She believes she has accumulated the necessary experience and skills throughout her professional career on Capitol Hill and Beacon Hill, and through political grassroots activism in Marblehead, to analyze and write legislation and then bring people together to support it.
As a state representative candidate, Armini focuses her attention on such issues as education, affordability and climate change.
After talking to teachers, Armini realized that schools and children need a COVID-19 recovery program that would include a mental health component, more engaging activities and a revision of the way success is measured in schools.
“We need new resources directed toward children and teachers to bring kids up to grade level, and to build their social and emotional skills that were lost during the pandemic,” Armini said.
This especially concerns the youngest children who skipped pre-K and are now in kindergarten. Some young students are lacking socio-emotional and phonics skills that they should have developed by now. And while teachers are trying to get them up to speed, children are having tantrums and acting out more, said Armini.
That is why she would like the schools to have more adjustment counselors. In addition, she would like to see more school and community-based programs for children.
In terms of affordability of living, Armini plans to address the cost of prescription drugs, housing issues and transportation access – the three issues that very much impact the ability of families and seniors to live in the 8th district, she said.
“Cost of prescription drugs is sapping family budgets,” said Armini. “We need to cap the cost of drugs for chronic diseases.”
Armini believes the state needs to use all the tools that it has to make housing more affordable, including Chapter 40B and incentives for transit-oriented housing, to increase the housing stock and bring its cost down.
She is also a supporter of the MBTA rail line electrification and resuming ferry services from Lynn, which would benefit residents of Marblehead and Swampscott and would be better for the environment, Armini said.
“Robust public transportation is vital for people who don’t have another way to get to work. It is really important for our economy and I truly believe that we can make Lynn the hub of our entire area,” said Armini.
To fight climate change, Armini believes that the state needs not only do everything to meet its net-zero greenhouse gas emission goal by 2050, but set a more aggressive goal for 2040, like Marblehead did, for example. Armini said she is laser-focused on climate issues. She has outlined her environmental plan on her website arminifor8.com.
Recently, Armini was re-reading her application essay for the University of Virginia, in which she talked about wanting a career in government service.
“I thought their government department would prepare me well for this career in government,” said Armini, smiling.
After graduating the University of Virginia with a bachelor’s degree in government and taking some time abroad in the United Kingdom, Armini hit the halls of Capitol Hill with a stack of resumes. She eventually got a job with a New Jersey congressman.
While in Washington, Armini learned how the legislative process worked, how to write legislation and work with a broad array of people to build a coalition to get it passed. She worked on Middle Eastern policy and on social policies, including education, healthcare, reproductive rights and LGBTQ rights.
In 1998, Armini and her husband, Michael, moved to Boston, where she worked for the Department of Revenue, making sure that Massachusetts child support enforcement law complied with the 1996 Welfare Reform Act.

Other highlights of Armini’s professional resume include receiving a master’s degree in Public Administration from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, writing speeches for the Massachusetts acting Governor Jane Swift. She also served as communications director for the Massachusetts Institute for a New Commonwealth (MassINC), a non-partisan think-tank, and provided legislators with expertise on people’s ability to join and stay in the middle class.
Eventually, Armini transitioned to freelance speech writing which allowed her to stay at home to parent her two young children, David and Sydney, when the family moved to Marblehead 16 years ago.
While living in Marblehead, Armini became involved in parent-teacher organizations, in her Episcopalian church, and in local campaigns, helping more women get elected to the town’s Board of Selectmen.
Following the 2016 presidential election, Armini and her friend Maureen Kay started a grass-roots political organization out of Marblehead called ElectBlue. The organization was meant to challenge the fear, anger and frustration that people were feeling toward the ongoing political situation, and bring about positive change.
“We created a community of activists – people who tuned in, and chose not to tune out – and we gave each other hope at a moment that felt pretty hopeless,” she said.
The group held monthly briefings, fundraisers and postcard nights for two years, raising funds for democratic candidates running for the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.
In the beginning of her career, Armini’s political views aligned with progressive republicans. However, her life and career experiences led her to revise her political standing.
“I haven’t been a Republican for more than 20 years,” Armini said. “The Republican Party does not represent my values.”
Today’s Republican Party would not recognize someone like her, Armini said.
“Because they have no time for a fiercely independent woman who believes that there is a role for the government to play in creating opportunity, in ensuring equality and helping and supporting our most vulnerable and people who have been underserved and underrepresented for too long,” said Armini.
Once she became a parent, she said, Armini realized how hard it was raising a family in American society and that the government plays a big role in that.
“I decided that we have to do better for people,” said Armini. “We cannot have a healthy society without healthy families.”

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