Current State Rep. Brendan Crighton running full out for Third Essex District
Brendan Crighton doesn’t like to take anything for granted, which is why he is running a full on Senate campaign for the Third Essex District seat, even though he’s the only candidate on the ballot.
“We’re going to continue to knock on doors and hold coffee hours and meet people,” Crighton said. “I think the goal is to start a conversation, to get a sense of what people feel strongly about.”
It’s a path Crighton is not unfamiliar with.
Monday, the 34-year-old greeted customers in a Lynn coffee shop by name, including James Stafford, shaking hands and asking how they made out in the snow.
“My claim to fame is I ran against Brendan for ward councilor,” Stafford said. “That’s it. My only claim to fame.”
Crighton won the 2009 contest and after sitting down with him post election, Stafford said he was OK with the outcome and has supported Crighton ever since.
“He’s a good guy,” he said before returning to his coffee.
Born and bred in Lynn, Crighton and his wife, Andrea, and young son, Nathaniel, still live in the neighboring city where he served as a city councilor for six years. He also worked for former state Sen. Thomas McGee for nine years. He is currently in his second term, third year, as a state representative.
“I love my job now and I could see myself serving for a long time, but when an opportunity comes along to have a bigger impact on the district, I had to run,” he said.
When asked if his experience with McGee is a help, Crighton said yes.
“I know the Senate really well, having worked there not that long ago,” he said.
It’s a chance to have a greater impact on the district that drives him, Crighton added. With only 40 state senators compared to 160 representatives, Crighton said the opportunity of having a leadership role and make a serious impact on legislation is much greater.
As a senator, he would like to follow in his predecessor’s footstep and pursue transportation.
McGee was a long-time champion of expanding transportation options. He served on the Joint Committee on Transportation for well over a decade and as the chairman for about seven years.
“We’re significantly underfunding transportation systems in Massachusetts,” Crighton said.
In 2007, a bipartisan committee put together a recommendation that said the state needed to spend $1 billion more on transportation, but there has been little support over the last 10 years for a dedicated funding source. Crighton said a decision will have to be made, over the next decade, regarding the future of transportation.
However, he said, perhaps the biggest issue facing the district, and the state is the opioid crisis. He said having enough resources and treatment beds is important.
“It’s not something we can solve in the next legislative session or even over the next year,” he added. “But it not only affects this generation, but their children. It touches so many aspect of society.”
Economic development is a passion and education and housing are other issues that concern him, Crighton said.
“If things keep going the way they are people are not going to be able to afford to live Massachusetts,” he said. “There just isn’t enough housing stock.”
It’s something he hears from constituents all the time, he said.
And it’s likely he could be hearing it a lot more since his district as a senator will be about four times the size of his current district as a state representative.
The Third Essex District includes Lynn, Lynnfield, Saugus, Swampscott, Nahant and Marblehead.
Though his future as a senator is virtually sewn up, at least until the mid-term elections in November, Crighton hesitates to embrace the seat. There is one item still on his state rep. plate that he’d like to see through before moving to the other side of the Legislature.
“I had a bill, one of the bills vetoed by the governor, the Community Benefits District Bill” he said. “It more or less gives municipalities the ability to promote economic growth in targeted areas. I’m hoping I can get that done before I go to the Senate ... if I’m elected. There’s still two months to go.”
Crighton is the only candidate to file papers for the seat left vacant when McGee was sworn in as mayor of Lynn. He is also hoping to continue to meet people from his district before the special primary on Feb. 6 and the special election on March 6.
“I’d like to meet and talk with as many people as possible,” he said. “And if people have questions or if they want to get involved, call ... my top priority is always constituent services and being as accessible as possible. I’m excited to meet more people.”