The makeup of the state House of Representatives will have plenty of new Democratic voices come January, eager to deliver on their progressive campaign promises. But state Representatives-elect Nika Elugardo, Liz Miranda and Tram Nguyen are tempering their ambitions with realism.
The soon-to-be House colleagues appeared Monday for a joint interview on Greater Boston where they discussed their priorities for the upcoming legislative session and how those priorities will fit into the larger framework of the House.
“Frustration comes with all new jobs. It’s a learning curve for all of us,” Nguyen said.
The Andover Democrat, who last month ousted longtime Republican incumbent Jim Lyons, said she looks forward to making "sure that we get our fair share of the budget” in negotiations. As one of the most conservative members of the House, Lyons, she pointed out, often voted against spending bills.
Asked whether the change they seek is possible given their freshman status, Elugardo acknowledged her goals could take some time but that her election proved that they're not out of reach.
“There are two models of leadership: There’s the kind where you ascend a pipeline of positions, and there’s the kind where you mobilize people, which is what we’ve all done,” the Jamaica Plain Democrat said, looking at Miranda and Nguyen. “And when you mobilize people, you can absolutely have structural change.”
Asked if that structural change includes replacing House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Elugardo, who ousted his budget chief Jeffrey Sanchez in the primary, said she remains non-committal.
“I’m going to support who is ever really strong on Democratic governance, which the Speaker hasn’t been so far. But he knows that’s what I’m standing for,” Elugardo said.
Miranda, who will replace outgoing Rep. Evandro Carvalho, said she too is weighing a decision on who should lead the House. The Roxbury Democrat said that during her first year in office, she will focus on legislation to help curb gun violence, which claimed the life of her younger brother. Miranda said she also hopes to increase awareness and attention around the variables that often lead to violence.
“People make it a gun issue all the time. They often don’t talk about how it’s a nutrition issue, a housing issue, and education and a job issue as well,” she said.
The elections of Elugardo, Miranda and Nguyen will increase the number of women of color in the House to five — a notion that Miranda said she is aware of as she enters the 160-person body that remains overwhelmingly white.
“What’s important is if we’re not nurturing talent and making sure that we have room for people that look like me, who speak like us, what happens is as we’re running for office — it's difficult," Miranda said. "It’s difficult to find the right people to help share the message of the transformation we’d like to see.”