Boston City Councilor, Activist Josh Zakim Announces Campaign for Secretary of State

Tuesday, November 28, 2017


BOSTON - Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim announced today he will be a candidate for Secretary of State, promising broad new expansions of voting rights, greater transparency in government and stronger oversight of businesses across the state.

Zakim, a 33-year-old attorney and community activist who has represented District 8 (Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Mission Hill, Fenway-Kenmore, West End) on the City Council since 2014, has been a leader in protecting civil rights, increasing access to voting and expanding affordable housing opportunities.

“It’s time for a new era of leadership on Beacon Hill focused on inclusion instead of exclusion – on voting rights, on access to government and on protecting us all from bad actors in big business,” said Zakim. “When our federal government attempts to roll back rights, we need a Secretary of State committed to fighting every day to protect our values and principles here in Massachusetts.

“Now is the time for bold leadership and new and innovative ideas,” he continued.

Zakim chairs the City Council’s Committee on Housing and Community Development and the Special Committee on Civil Rights. Among the legislation he has filed is a proposal to increase voting access for all eligible Bostonians.

He also authored the Boston Trust Act to improve trust and cooperation between immigrant communities and law enforcement, prohibiting the detention of residents based on immigration status. Additionally, he convened hearings to investigate serious health and safety concerns faced by Boston residents in rental housing, issuing the first City Council subpoena in decades to compel testimony from recalcitrant slumlords. The hearings ultimately led to improved landlord accountability and safer, cleaner apartments for residents.

Zakim successfully introduced an ordinance extending protections for apartment tenants whose homes are converted to condominiums or co-ops, including increased financial safeguards for elderly, disabled, and low-income tenants. And he held hearings to address the unique challenges faced by seniors in the LGBT community in finding affordable, welcoming housing in Boston.

“The Secretary of State serves the people of Massachusetts, he is their voice on some of the most vital issues in our lives – yet too few people even know the office exists or should be serving them,” Zakim said. “If you are eligible to vote, own a business, invest your money or want to know what’s happening with your tax dollars, this office matters to you – and I’m determined to make sure the people of Massachusetts have a Secretary of State fighting in their corner, every day.

Zakim said his first priority as Secretary of State is to work with cities and towns to expand access to early voting, easier voter registration and aggressively promote innovative ideas to improve voter turnout in all elections.

“As elected leaders in a democracy, we have an obligation to work to increase, not restrict, access for voters – particularly voters who for too long have been disenfranchised,” he said. “With the Trump Administration working so hard to make it difficult for more of our friends and neighbors to vote, in Massachusetts we have an opportunity and an obligation to lead on this issue – protecting and expanding perhaps the most important of all civil rights.”

Zakim’s parents instilled a strong sense of social and economic justice in him and his younger sisters, Shari and Deena. His father, Lenny, was the longtime head of the Anti-Defamation League, and lived out those values every day in his work throughout Greater Boston by building and growing coalitions amongst Massachusetts’ many diverse groups. Zakim currently resides in Downtown Boston with his wife, Grace Sullivan Zakim.

“That passion for inclusiveness is in my DNA, and I remember every single day that I am a public servant,” he said. “I will never forget where I came from and who I am here to serve. And I believe the Secretary of State’s role is a perfect way to expand the ideals my family and I – and the people who share our values – hold so dear.”