My name is Vanna Howard and I am announcing my candidacy as a Democrat for the 17th Middlesex District State Representative seat.
After surviving the Killing Fields of Cambodia and speaking little English, the Greater Lowell area welcomed me and provided me with the opportunity to live in safety and peace. Since that time, I have secured my college degree, married, raised a family and made many friends in this region, built a career, and immersed myself in community life. I am running because I strongly feel the need to give back to a place which has been so good to me; because I feel I have the skills, knowledge, and experience to capably serve the residents of this district; and because these unprecedented times are right for a fresh and effective voice on Beacon Hill.
My career to date has been in service to our community. Early on, I worked in the Middlesex and Suffolk County District Attorney’s Offices for 13 years. Afterwards, I spent 11 years as Greater Lowell Regional Director for Congresswoman Niki Tsongas. Today, I am the Chief of External and Government Relations at the Lowell Community Health Center, which provides access to quality health care for nearly half the population of this region.
In addition to my worklife, I have tried to be as involved as possible in the life of this community. I currently sit on several area boards and commissions including the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Lowell, the Lowell Housing Authority, Mill City Grows, Ironstone Farm, Project LEARN, the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association, Acre Family Child Care, Cultural Organization of Lowell, and the MA Asian-American Commission. I am also a proud alumna of The Lowell Plan‘s Public Matters program.
Through these experiences, I have not only become familiar with every neighborhood in this District but I have learned the importance of hard work, really listening to peoples’ concerns, tackling problems head on, and working collaboratively to craft real-world solutions to those problems. I have also learned how to strongly and productively advocate for those in need – small business owners and entrepreneurs, public school students and parents, the elderly living on fixed incomes, and those in need of first-rate health care.
These qualities and hard-won experiences are needed to solve real-world problems in the middle of a pandemic whose impact will be felt for years by our families and community. This crisis has exposed at least two major concerns – the inadequacy of our health care system and the fragility of our economy. It has also, though, provided us with an opportunity. An opportunity to learn from the challenges it has presented – to take a hard look at the way we deliver health care, and provide housing, and treat our seniors, and keep our small businesses not just surviving but thriving. And an opportunity to make full use of the innovative energies and skills of our neighbors and friends in this region to make it even better, stronger, and more prosperous. This is why I choose to run for this office. This is my commitment to the people of the 17th Middlesex District.
If we don’t take advantage of these opportunities, we will have lost the chance to improve our lives and those of our children and grandchildren, in authentic and enduring ways, and we will be unprepared for the next such crisis – whether it’s another virus or an economic recession.
If I am fortunate enough to earn the confidence and trust of the voters of this District, I pledge that I will devote my energies to accessing the resources and developing the policy initiatives that will meet the unique needs, and build on the strengths, of the 17th District. This includes advocating for small business, health care and women’s care, transportation and infrastructure, education, housing, diversity, equality and inclusion, environment/climate, gun violence/public safety, veterans, and the financial security of our seniors. I will bring a different voice and passion to Beacon Hill. A voice that is reflective of a diverse community. A passion that comes from caring for people. A commitment that I will respect this office, every day, as a position of trust.
Ours is a world very different from what it was just two months ago. It’s probably not the best time to mount a first campaign for public office, but such times require us to step up – as so many of our health care and essential workers have done so selflessly. And so today, I am declaring my candidacy for the 17th Middlesex State Representative seat, and respectfully asking for your support. I would be honored to have that support.
I want to wish everyone good health. Please continue to wash your hands and keep your social distance. We will get through this together. Stay safe and healthy!