Five freshman lawmakers to watch on Beacon Hill
By Matt Stout and Victoria McGrane, Boston Globe (EXCERPT)
Like many women across the country, Tram Nguyen’s interest in politics intensified after President Trump’s 2016 election and the Women’s March. The Andover legal aid attorney started advocating for legislation on Beacon Hill she thought would benefit her clients. As she dug in, she learned that her state representative, Republican James J. Lyons Jr., opposed every bill she and her colleagues cared about “and realized just how conservative he was,” she said in a recent interview with the Globe. He refused to meet with her when she reached out to discuss her policy priorities. “I e-mailed, I called, I sent letters. Nothing, nothing, nothing,” she recalled.
There were some steps in between, but long story short, the 32-year-old Nguyen decided to challenge Lyons. Residents of the 18th Essex District deserved a representative more accessible to them, she said.
Tram drew support from reproductive rights organizations and other liberal activists eager to defeat Lyons, one of the most conservative lawmakers in the Legislature and champion of causes such as eliminating state funding for abortion and overturning transgender protections.
She won endorsements from Emily’s List, former president Barack Obama, and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton. She beat Lyons by 10 points.
Nguyen came to the United States as a political refugee with her family when she was 5 years old, and grew up in the Merrimack Valley. She will be the first Vietnamese-American woman to serve in the Legislature.
“I’m going to deliver on the issues that were a central part of my campaign,” Nguyen told the Globe. That includes working on reproductive rights, common sense gun safety, the opioid crisis, health care, and addressing the Merrimack Valley gas explosions to make sure a disaster like that never happens again in the Commonwealth. Even before being sworn in, she started discussing with her soon-to-be colleagues on the latter topic, she said.