Tommy Vitolo wins state representative election



Tommy Vitolo wins state representative election.

On Sept. 6, the Massachusetts State House of Representatives held primary elections. The incumbent of the 15th Norfolk county district, Tommy Vitolo, faced former vice chair of the Select Board, Raul Fernandez. Both campaigned to make change on the fronts of equity, justice, and education.

Vitolo won the election by a clear margin, receiving 62.7% of the 7,567 votes. Vitolo said his win shows the town’s want for change in Massachusetts.

“Brookline wants effective progressive leadership in the statehouse. The first two syllables of progressive are meaningful: folks want progress,” Vitolo said.

Vitolo said after the election, he slept well for the first time since the campaign started. Similar to Vitolo’s experience while running, Fernandez said during the last year, he dealt with constant pressure that built up as he continued to campaign and manage his life at home.

“It’s been pretty nonstop. You’re building the campaign from the ground up as you’re running. The deeper you get into the campaign the more nonstop it gets,” Fernandez said. “I’ve got a baby at home, she just turned seventeen months, and you know the real challenge is trying to be a dad to a young child. It’s been another layer of complexity.”

Fernandez and Vitolo both classify themselves as progressive Democrats. According to Fernandez, being progressive is more than just having progressive ideas.

“There’s a difference between liberal and progressive. Liberal is about the ideas you hold, progressive is about the actions you take,” Fernandez said. “The whole point of being progressive is pushing. The whole point of being progressive is about saying where we are is not good enough. The whole point of being progressive is about accountability.”

For Vitolo, being progressive means he is open to compromise, which is an important aspect of being a leader.

“[Progress] is not as simple as having a catchy slogan. And it’s not as simple as just being right. The work requires cooperation and collaboration with the census,” Vitolo said. “Building that takes a lot of time, it takes a lot of listening, and Brookline understood that and elected someone who understands.”

With his view on progress through collaboration, Vitolo said he is looking forward to working on important legislation to combat problems within Massachusetts.

“The things that I focused most closely on are our issues of equity education and environment. I’m not wedded to specific solutions, and always looking for ways to potential creativity or sometimes achieving smaller progress in multiple places at the same time,” Vitolo said.

Along with equity and environmental issues, Vitolo said he is looking to work on making education less expensive, as Massachusetts has gotten increasingly expensive to live in.

“In Massachusetts, we have the highest childcare costs in the country, we have really high [education] costs, and that makes it hard for young families to stay in Massachusetts, and it makes it hard for people in their 20s to stay. These are people who want to stay; we want them to stay, we want them to build their lives here,” Vitolo said.

According to Vitolo, Brookline should lead by example and in doing so, influence other areas to follow suit on climate action.

“The good news is that in order for us to change the energy use everywhere, we have to also change it here. Somebody’s got to go first,” Vitolo said. “What that means is that Brookline is going to have to do it before the state as a whole; we’re going to be a leader.”

Vitolo said anybody in his district can reach out to him if they have any questions or concerns by calling his cell phone (617-872-8921).