Alum Launches Campaign for Lieutenant Governor of Mass.
Alum Launches Campaign for Lieutenant Governor of Mass.
State Representative Tami Gouveia plans to leverage the skills she has gained throughout her public health career to act as “a bridge between the corner office and the people of Massachusetts.”
“The way to create the type of change you want to see is to get yourself a seat at the table,” says School of Public Health alum and State Representative Tami Gouveia (SSW’01, SPH’02,‘20), who recently announced her campaign to be the next lieutenant governor of Massachusetts.
“I knew from a young age that I wanted to run for office one day,” says Gouveia, who grew up in Lowell, Mass. where she saw the reality of injustices such as poverty, racism, xenophobia, and homophobia. “Early on, I had a drive to advocate and fight for the people in my community, for those who needed better support in order to thrive, and for those who needed their own seat at the table.”
Before running for office, Gouveia spent over 20 years as a public health social worker doing systems-related policy change work to address health and social service issues in Massachusetts. She served as the executive director of Tobacco Free Mass, where she lobbied against the tobacco industry. During this time, Gouveia helped negotiate a state bill to raise the tobacco sales age to 21 and expand restrictions on e-cigarettes. She also spent several years working in community coalitions, developing programs, and advocating for the prevention of youth substance abuse and addiction at the Regional Center for Healthy Communities out of the Greater Lawrence Family Health Center.
Prior to being elected as the state representative of Massachusetts’ 14th District in 2018, Gouveia was a program director at the health systems think tank Rethink Health, a Rippel Foundation initiative focused on guiding change and creating equitable health and well-being for all.
During her run for state representative, Gouveia says that many potential voters asked her why she was leaving her public health career behind to move into local government.
“My response to them was always the same: The State House is where I will do my public health work,” she says. “In my eyes, every single bill that we take up in the House and vote on has consequences that impact our health and wellbeing—from humane housing and environmental health issues to workplace policy and professional licensure. It is all connected.”
As a progressive voice in the legislature, Gouveia has focused much of her work on Beacon Hill on three major policy areas: climate change, clean and reliable public transportation, and Medicare for All.
She has filed legislation around the state’s Stretch Energy Code, which highlights the role that buildings and housing play in greenhouse gas emissions and increases energy efficiency requirements for new buildings and homes. She also has led two task forces within the House of Representatives focused on supporting a greener public transportation system, including increasing funding and investing in satellite parking locations for the commuter rail. And she has advocated for Medicare for All, holding forums to help inform the public about the many barriers that people face to accessing equitable, quality care.
Gouveia has also filed legislation around the prevention and treatment of adverse childhood experiences, as well as the use of fentanyl testing strips as a harm reduction tool for people with opioid addiction.
Government transparency and accessibility are also very important issues to Gouveia, and she has led efforts within the House to improve upon them, including making her committee votes public and increasing the amount of time allotted to review bills.
“Good governance and transparency are really important from a health and wellbeing perspective,” she says. “When people are informed and able to engage in their democracy and decision-making, there is a sense of collective agency, which makes people feel good and like they are contributing back to their community.”
Being a doctor of public health and a sitting state representative in the middle of a pandemic have given Gouveia a unique perspective on issues related to COVID-19. Now, in her run for lieutenant governor, she is calling for an equitable, just recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and a sustainable approach to strengthening the state’s social safety net as we re-emerge.
“We need leaders in the corner office who are putting everyone’s health and wellbeing at the center of decision-making, and we have seen through the pandemic response that this has not been happening,” she says. “Massachusetts is rich in resources, but there are still people who are going to bed hungry or who can’t sleep at all because they are stressed about trying to make ends meet. We leave too many people behind in our state, and there is no reason for it.”
Gouveia believes that as lieutenant governor she can leverage the skills she has gained throughout her public health career to act as “a bridge between the corner office and the people of Massachusetts.”
“The crises ahead of us require a public health response,” she says. “We need to get back to reinvesting in public health as a public good and rebuild the trust that has been eroded over the last year and a half. I have been doing this work my entire career: bringing people together, supporting them and their needs, and giving them a seat at the table. I am ready to put my skills to good use for the State.”
Comments & Discussion
Boston University moderates comments to facilitate an informed, substantive, civil conversation. Abusive, profane, self-promotional, misleading, incoherent or off-topic comments will be rejected. Moderators are staffed during regular business hours (EST) and can only accept comments written in English. Statistics or facts must include a citation or a link to the citation.