press release

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November 8, 2013


Christine Barber, Endorsements Co-Chair


Somerville, MA. Six of eight of candidates endorsed by the Progressive Democrats of Somerville (PDS) ran successful campaigns in contested races and will take office in 2014. Three of those candidates -- Matt McLaughlin in Ward 1, Mark Niedergang in Ward 5, and Katjana Ballantyne in Ward 7 -- won first-time election in contested races for seats on the Board of Aldermen. Two candidates -- Steven Roix in Ward 1 and Dan Futrell in Ward 2 -- won first-time election in contested races for School Committee. Bill White, a long-time At-Large Aldermen easily won re-election.

Another four candidates endorsed by PDS ran unopposed for seats on the Board of Aldermen (Rebekah Gewirtz in Ward 6) and School Committee (Adam Sweeting in Ward 3, Paul Bockelman in Ward 6, and first-time candidate Carrie Normand in Ward 7).

Another PDS-endorsed candidate, Suzanne Bremer in Ward 3, lost by less than 80 votes, despite being heavily outspent by winner Bob McWatters.

In the run-up to the election season, PDS asked candidates to submit responses to detailed questionnaires and held three well-attended candidates' forums for School Committee, Ward Alderman, and At-Large Aldermen, after which members voted on-line for or against endorsement.

Forum attendees and members of PDS -- whose motto is Democracy Demands Participation -- include both experienced and first-time campaign volunteers. The unprecedented number of open seats in this year's election was an especially important factor in sparking the interest and participation of many folks who were new to local politics.

Going forward, PDS members look forward to working with this new crop of legislators, and helping them achieve the goals and effect the changes they described in their responses to the PDS questionnaires. Interested readers can find the candidates’ responses in their entirety on the PDS website ( We especially encourage Somerville residents to visit our website and join the PDS community.


August 12, 2013

Katie Wallace, Chair
Christine Barber, Endorsements Co-Chair


Five candidates endorsed. Long-time School Committee member Mark Niedergang endorsed in Ward 5. Katjana Ballantyne endorsed in Ward 7. Rebekah Gewirtz (Ward 6) endorsed for re-election. Matt McLaughlin (Ward 1) and Suzanne Bremer (Ward 3) also endorsed.

Somerville, MA. Members of the Progressive Democrats of Somerville (PDS) have endorsed five candidates in the upcoming Ward Alderman election for this fall .

PDS members voted to endorse Mark Niedergang, who has represented Ward 5 on the School Committee since 2005. Mark’s ideas for keeping Somerville affordable so residents can continue to live here and his dedication to public service make him the clear choice for voters in November.

Katjana Ballantyne, who came within 40 votes of winning against the previous incumbent Ward 7 alderman in 2011, again received the endorsement of PDS members. A Ward 7 resident for over 20 years, Katjana has been a strong advocate for her community. PDS believes that she will be an important voice in support of community-based solutions to issues ranging from residential development to government transparency.

In the three-way Ward 1 race, PDS members voted to endorse Save Our Somerville co-founder Matt McLaughlin. Matt, a Somerville native, has been a terrific advocate for working families in the city, working to advance the local hire ordinance that would create more job opportunities for Somerville residents. Matt also has experience with youth programs in the city, and would prioritize programming for teens. PDS members feel that the Board would benefit from such a voice.

PDS voted to endorse incumbent Ward 6 alderman Rebekah Gewirtz, who is running unopposed this year. Rebekah, who co-founded PDS and was the first chair, has been a strong and consistent voice for progressive priorities on the Board of Aldermen, and members are confident that she will continue to fulfill that role during her next term.

Lastly, members endorsed Suzanne Bremer in Ward 3, in a four-way race. A current board member of Union Square Main Streets, Suzanne has worked to support her Union Square neighborhood since she moved to Prospect Hill over 20 years ago. PDS believes she is the right choice for voters in Ward 3.

Voters in Ward 1 and Ward 3 will vote in preliminary elections for Ward Alderman on September 24 in order to narrow the field to two candidates for the general election. The remaining wards will not have preliminary elections, and will vote on November 5.

PDS invited all Ward Alderman candidates to respond to our questionnaire, which included questions regarding commercial and residential development in Assembly Square and beyond, the Green Line extension, affordability, government transparency and accountability, and diversity, among other things. The candidates’ responses are available in their entirety on the PDS website ( More than 50 people attended PDS’ Ward Alderman endorsement forum on Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013. PDS will be holding an Alderman-at-Large endorsement forum in early September.

PDS in the Patch and Journal

The Somerville Patch has an article about our Ward Alderman Candidate Forum and there is quite a discussion going on there in the comments. Take a look.

The Somerville Journal is also reporting on our forum.


July 22, 2013

Katie Wallace, Chair
Christine Barber, Endorsements Co-Chair


Adam Sweeting (Ward 3) and Paul Bockelman (Ward 6) endorsed for re-election. Steve Roix endorsed in Ward 1, Dan Futrell endorsed in Ward 2, and Carrie Normand endorsed in Ward 7, while members are split on Ward 5 endorsement.

Somerville, MA. The Progressive Democrats of Somerville (PDS) has endorsed several candidates in what promises to be a lively School Committee election, scheduled for this coming fall.

PDS members voted to endorse both Adam Sweeting and Paul Bockelman for re-election. Each has earned the PDS endorsement before, and each brings valuable experience and perspective to the Committee. Mr. Sweeting, Committeeman for Ward 3 since 2008, and Mr. Bockelman, Committeeman for Ward 6 since 2006, have both brought informed, progressive perspectives to the Committee. PDS members continue to support them in their work.

PDS members voted to endorse Steve Roix in Ward 1. Mr. Roix is making expansion of the Community Liaison program a priority to help reach out to the diverse population of Ward 1 and increase parental involvement. PDS is confident that he will be an effective advocate for the people of the first Ward.

Dan Futrell, whom PDS members enthusiastically voted to endorse in Ward 2, would bring to the Committee not only budgeting and organizational experience gained as Director of Operations at the nonprofit Year Up, where he helps to provide technical and communication skills to low-income young adults, but also the leadership experience he gained during two deployments to Iraq as an Infantry Captain in the U.S. Army.

By a wide margin, PDS also voted to endorse Ward 7 candidate Carrie Normand. Ms. Normand has a strong background in advocacy, both professionally and personally. PDS is confident that she will be a powerful voice for parents throughout Somerville, and particularly parents of children with special needs.

In the Ward 5 race, PDS members were impressed by both Laura Pitone and Ross Richmond, with some members going so far as to suggest endorsing both candidates. Nevertheless, neither candidate reached the two-thirds majority which is necessary to earn PDS’ endorsement, so unfortunately we cannot issue an endorsement in this race. However, members expressed enthusiasm about both Ms. Pitone and Mr. Richmond, and PDS collectively feels that Ward 5 would be lucky to be represented by either candidate.

PDS invited all School Committee candidates to respond to our questionnaire, which included general questions regarding what the overall guiding principles of the school system should be, as well as more specific matters like the candidates’ feelings about charter schools. More than 50 people attended the PDS School Committee candidate forum on Tuesday, July 9th, 2013, and provoked a thoughtful discussion. The candidates’ responses to the questionnaire are posted in their entirety at

"PDS really appreciates all of the candidates who attended the forum to answer questions from members of the community, said Christine Barber, PDS Endorsement Co-Chair. "We look forward to working to get these candidates elected this fall."

PDS will be holding a Ward Alderman endorsement forum on Tuesday, July 23rd at Kesher Center, and an Alderman-at-Large forum later in the summer.

Candidate Forums on July 9 & 23

This year, there are more contested races in Somerville than at any time in recent memory. Your vote will really matter! Find out who the candidates are and where they stand.

Come to Candidates Forums on Tuesday July 9 (School Committee) and July 23 (Ward Alderman). Stay tuned for links on this PDS website when we post candidates' responses to questionnaires. (We'll also be announcing a forum for the seven At-Large Alderman candidates sometime soon.)

The PDS Candidates Forums will provide an opportunity for the candidates to speak and to answer your questions. Refreshments will be served.

Forums start at 6:30 pm and will take place at the Kesher Center (13 Garden Court), which is adjacent to Conway Park on Somerville Ave. The best approach is through Bleachery Court (as if you were going to the park or hockey rink). Drive to the back right corner of the parking area, where you will see the “Kesher” sign on the white door. The Forum will take place on the second floor (there is an elevator). (Note that Kesher's mailing address on Kent St. is not the best entrance.)

Pending certification of nomination papers by the Board of Election Commissioners, there will be contested School Committee races in Wards 1, 2 and 5, and contested Ward Alderman races in Wards 1, 3, 5, and 7 (as well as the at-large contest). There will be a preliminary election on Sept. 24 to narrow the field of candidates in Ward 1 (Alderman), Ward 3 (Alderman), and Ward 5 (School Committee). The general election will take place on Nov. 5.

PDS Endorses Candidates in the 2011 Municipal Races

August 10, 2011

Marty Martinez, Chair


Aldermen at Large Bill White and Dennis Sullivan endorsed for re-election. Katjana Ballantyne endorsed for Ward 7 Alderman and Christine Barber endorsed for Ward 4 Alderman.

Somerville, MA. The Progressive Democrats of Somerville (PDS) has made endorsements in the contested Alderman-at-Large race, and in the races for Ward 4 and 7 Alderman. PDS will consider an endorsement for Ward 3 Alderman at their next meeting in September.

PDS is proud to endorse incumbents Bill White and Dennis Sullivan for reelection for Alderman at Large. Each candidate brings something different to this race and the PDS membership overwhelmingly voted to support those perspectives. "Aldermen at Large Bill White and Dennis Sullivan continue to be strong voices for open, accessible, and accountable government and we know that we have strong progressive leaders on the Board of Aldermen with them present." said PDS Chair Marty Martinez. "We are proud to endorse both of these candidates."

PDS is proud to endorse Christine Barber for Ward 4 Alderman. The PDS members were unanimous in their support for Christine and were impressed with her credentials and grassroots campaign. "Ward 4 needs a strong and energetic leader and that leader is Christine," said PDS Chair Marty Martinez. "As a health policy expert, Christine understands the complex issues that the city faces and we are excited to work with her on her campaign for Ward 4 Alderman."

PDS is proud to endorse challenger Katjana Ballantyne for Ward 7 Alderman. As the former President of Somerville Community Corporation, Katjana cares about keeping Somerville affordable for all residents and families. PDS members were excited about her focus on an open and inclusive government. "Katjana would bring a fresh perspective to the Board of Alderman," said PDS Vice-Chair Judy Neufeld. "PDS is proud to endorse Katjana for Ward 7 Alderman."

PDS invited all candidates in a contested race to submit a written response detailing their positions on a variety of issues, except for the candidates in Ward 3. Candidates were asked to respond to important issues facing this district including thoughts on local issues including the Green Line Extension, the proposed Wal-Mart store, and ways to engage community in local government. Nearly 40 community members attended the PDS Endorsement Meeting on Tuesday, August 9, 2011 and asked the candidates thoughtful questions. Their responses to the questionnaires are posted on the PDS website at

Progressive Democrats of Somerville hosted their first ever Celebration and Fundraiser

More than 50 people attended the first ever celebration and fundraiser hosted by The Progressive Democrats of Somerville (PDS) on Tuesday, January 11th at Foundry on Elm in Davis Square.

Among the almost fifty attendees were School Committee Members Mark Niedergang, Adam Sweeting, and Paul Bockelman along with President of the Board of Alderman Rebekah Gewirtz, State Senator Pat Jehlen, and State Representative Carl Sciortino. Guests listened to comments from President Gerwitz, as well as the Executive Director of the SEIU Massachusetts State Council Harris Gruman. PDS Chair Marty Martinez and Vice-Chair Judy Neufeld finished off the evening.

The event was the first major PDS event following a major visioning and strategic planning effort undertaken by the PDS Leadership Committee and membership. At the event, PDS introduced new efforts to take on more issue based and member driven campaigns, as well as continuing with their efforts in campaigning for local progressive candidates.

PDS continues to work on bringing accountability and transparency to all levels of government and supporting elected officials and candidates who share our progressive values. Major achievements this year included:

· Endorsing and supporting numerous progressive candidates both in our community and across the state, including Mac D’Alessandro for Congress, and Martha Coakley for Senate.

· Working with the Coordinated Campaign to reelect Governor Deval Patrick and defeat all 3 ballot questions

· Organizing in opposition to resort-style casino gambling through the state Democratic Party

· Raising awareness about Somerville trash removal company Russell Disposal’s violation of state labor laws

· Supporting the efforts by advocates to bring affordable family housing for formerly homeless individuals to Somerville

The next PDS meeting will be held on March 1st. The location will be announced soon. Go to for more information on the upcoming meeting and other updates.

Progressive Democrats of Somerville Hires Organizing and Communications Intern

PDS Members,

Besides the good news of keeping Massachusetts blue this week, the PDS leadership team wanted to send out an announcement that we hired a new Organizing and Communications intern to help us as an organization grow and thrive. We know this was a top priority coming out of the visioning work we did and we are so excited to bring on Andrew Bunyard!

Andrew graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst with a degree in Sociology and Women’s Studies. He works as a Health Care Service Coordinator for the Muscular Dystrophy Association; a job he has held for almost three years. In addition, he works as a Therapeutic Mentor for Health and Education Services in Beverly, MA. He has lived in Somerville for three years and is looking forward to being engaged with the important work of the progressive movement on a local level. Andrew was a stellar volunteer in Ward 6 for the coordinated campaign and was an intern on the Mac D’Alessandro campaign earlier this fall.

Andrew is so excited to be working with us. He said “Progressive politics have always been a passion of mine, but in recent years it has become all the more apparent the urgency for progressive policies and change. I work in a field where I see the cracks in a system every day that allow those most deserving of help to go without notice. I believe that working for PDS will allow me to take part in these larger issues on a local level and with the greatest amount of impact. It is an honor to be a part of such a dynamic and progressive local force. I look forward to the great challenges ahead.”

Please join me in welcoming Andrew Bunyard to our team!


Judy Neufeld
Vice-Chair, PDS

2009 Questionnaire Responses for Alderman-At-Large

As part of our endorsement process, PDS sent questionnaires to the 5 candidates for the 4 Alderman-At-Large seats.

The PDS Endorsement Process

June 4, 2008

Somerville - This week, the Progressive Democrats of Somerville officially launched their endorsement process for the upcoming round of state elections. Invitations were emailed to candidates in local contested races: Rep. Carl Sciortino and Ald. Bob Trane in the 34th Middlesex (Somerville/Medford) House race and Patrick McCabe, Jim Caralis, and Rep. Paul Donato in the 35th Middlesex (Medford/Malden) House race. Candidates who indicate their interest in being considered for endorsement by 5:00pm, Sunday, June 8th will be asked to answer a series of questions about their qualifications and positions which will be posted on our website, and which will help members decide their vote on the endorsement question at our June 24th general meeting. PDS looks forward to hearing from these candidates as it moves forward with this important process.

For more information: Marty Martinez, Chairperson of PDS, 617-256-5641

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