"I believe in the idea of public service.
For years I have contemplated ways that I might be able to serve my community; I have been able to do so through various nonprofit organizations, but personal and professional obligations prevented me from running for office, until this year.
I also believe I have the skills and the background necessary to take on all of the obligations of the office of secretary of state, coupled with the independence and spirit of innovation needed to make government more understandable by and accessible to all who live in this great state.
After almost two decades of the same administration, we will all benefit from a new approach, untainted by the Beacon Hill culture.
With a renewed energy in the office, an interest in pursuing new ideas that can improve, for instance, access to public information and our election process, and a willingness to work for all the people of Massachusetts, I think, with the people's help, we can improve our democracy and accomplish great things, and that is something worth putting some effort into.
In the end, however, my motivation is not one of simply entering the political arena or seeking the attention that comes therefrom. It is the desire to make our state a better place for my children, my neighbors, my colleagues, my fellow residents, now and in the future.
And in this particular way, I believe I can do that."
— Submitted by the candidate
How can we improve the state's public records law?
"The public records law needs to be updated to recognize the existence of electronic records and advances in search and storage technology.
The current law establishes the right to access, but given the built-in presumption that all records are in paper form, the law also requires that one go through a gatekeeper to get actual access to records.
Most, if not virtually all, public records generated today exist in electronic form, and therefore can be made available online without a need for a formal request to a records gatekeeper, and without the accompanying fees.
Further, by reviewing and revising the basis for the numerous exceptions to the 40-year-old law, and hopefully streamlining these rules, we can break down bureaucratic barriers that have generated a culture of secrecy.
Further, the processes of government must be treated as public records. The public deserves to know and have the chance to understand how public decisions are made, especially where financial matters are involved.
One example is the historic rehabilitation tax credit program, overseen by the office of the secretary. Currently, the application process and criteria are closely guarded secrets, with neither applicants nor the public aware of what constitutes a successful application.
Until the most recent round of grants, Mr. Galvin refused to publicly identify the recipients of the tax credits, essentially keeping the entire process in the dark. A revision to (or better enforcement of) the public records law would allow both the public and tax credit applicants to benefit: the public could more easily determine whether the process is indeed fair, and applicants will be able to more accurately plan for the availability and impact of tax credits on their proposed development projects.
However, whether or not the public records laws change to address this concern, I will lift the veil of secrecy on this important program, if elected as secretary."
Should the threshold for getting a question on the ballot be increased, as some legislators have suggested?
"The purpose of increasing the signature threshold would be to reduce the number of ballot questions that get qualified in each election cycle. So the real question is, are there too many citizen initiatives securing ballot status?
In 2000, there were 8 ballot questions placed before the voters. Since then, however, there have been no more than 3 such questions in each election year (there were none in 2004). This suggests to me that the ballot question process is working as intended.
The residents of the Commonwealth have an opportunity to exercise their constitutionally-granted rights to place initiatives up for a vote, but at the same time, we are not inundated with such matters, as is seen in California, where there are 11 such questions this year, and 15 in 2008.
I do not believe having 3 or 4 initiatives reach the ballot, as has been the common experience over the past 20 years, is too many. Increasing the signature threshold would run the risk of eliminating the citizen initiative process in practice, which I do not find acceptable.
Procedurally, however, we can improve the signature-gathering process, for both ballot petitions and candidate nominations.
Specifically, the secretary should take data provided electronically by the applicable committees and automatically generate PDF versions of the signature sheets.
These forms would have all pertinent information preprinted thereon, with identifying features at both the top and bottom of each page, so that voters can easily ascertain the purpose of the ballot petition or the identity of the candidate.
The forms could also incorporate barcoding for security purposes and to allow direct online access to additional data.
In all cases, but especially in the case of ballot petitions, the PDF forms would be encrypted against alterations, and would make clear the "no alterations" rule established in the SJC's 1998 decision, Hurst v. State Ballot Commission."
If elected, what are your priorities for the next term?
"My initial priority is to improve public access to the information maintained by the office of secretary, to foster greater transparency throughout Massachusetts government.
Such improvements will be a simple as making the official website more user-friendly, but will also include updating and streamlining databases to allow for easier online search capability.
I will also encourage an "open data" model, and make pertinent public data (but never protected personal information) available for private development, especially for mobile applications.
For too long, Massachusetts residents have complained about how inaccessible and hidden our government tends to be; this trend must be reversed.
Next, with the expectation that only half of the state's registered voters will vote this November, I believe we must improve voter turnout in future state elections.
Low voter turnout in communities around the Commonwealth is simply a symptom of more basic problems, whether it is lack of understanding among voters, structural impediments to voting, cultural issues, or the misperception that "my vote just doesn't matter." The next secretary cannot be complacent about or accepting of only 50% turnout in statewide elections.
In that role, I will work directly with community officials and organizations to both diagnose and address these problems.
Beyond that, we should review the election process itself to find ways to augment participation, considering ideas such as early voting as a way to facilitate voting in our busy, overscheduled culture, and adopting ranked choice voting to encourage and facilitate more party and non-party candidates to run for office.
Additional items that I would work on include:
(1) Improving reporting procedures for business entities, making them more understandable to and supporting greater compliance by owners and directors
(2) Improving access to the state archives
(3) Establishing satellite offices in additional cities."