Friday, June 13, 2014

Leland Cheung for lieutentant governor.

Leland Cheung is my choice for lieutenant governor and if you live in Massachusetts, he should be yours. 

Smart, energetic, hard-working, responsive, Leland showed his chops yet again last night at a Cambridge event hosted by Renata von Tscharner, Kristen von Hoffman and others. 

Every pol tries to distill into a short five minute speech what they stand for and who they are.  Leland’s 5-minuter is very strong, covering his background, his history, his motivations, and his goals.  Born to a Chinese immigrant father, Leland is in some ways the American Dream actualized, with all its attendant attributes.  Very hard working and extremely driven — Stanford undergrad, venture capitalist, then off to a joint degree at the MIT Sloan School and Harvard’s Kennedy School — Leland squeaked on to the Cambridge City Council on his first run in 2009. Since then he’s been a whirlwind of activity, sponsoring everything under the sun, and pushing initiative after initiative. Handily reelected in 2011 and 2013, now he’s running for lieutenant governor, and he’s the right one for the job.

Not that I have anything against Steve Kerrigan, Mike Lake or James Arena-DeRosa. They all seem pleasant, earnest, committed and interested in the work. But Leland stands above them, in experience, in understanding, in accomplishment.

Leland gets it, which is another way of saying he understands our next challenge is energizing the Massachusetts cities and towns outside the Boston-Cambridge axis.  Over the past decade, opportunity and wealth have grown unequally in this state, expanding exponentially in a very small geographic area around Kendall Square and Boston’s Innovation District but leaving other parts of the Commonwealth behind.  Worse, the expansion has been felt only by a very small, privileged segment of society.  The haves are gaining at increasing speed while the have-lesses are falling farther behind. Addressing this in the next governor’s term is critical. Leland names it as one of his top priorities. Knowing his track record, he will deliver.

Furthermore, in an increasingly multicultural Massachusetts, we will do better in the long run if our elected and appointed leadership bears some resemblance to our populace as a whole. I can’t help but notice that — other than Leland — the field of candidates is all white men. That is so yesteryear.

Leland is the right man for the job and I hope Saturday’s state Democratic convention, and subsequently the voters in September’s primary and November’s general will recognize this and act on it.