Coleston Smith ’22

Becky Grossman for Congress Campaign, Newton, MA

The political landscape in the United States is as fast-paced and interesting as it has ever been, and working on Becky Grossman’s campaign for Congress has given me excellent insight into the everyday workings and long-term strategies of contemporary politics. Becky is a current Newton City Councilor and former Assistant District Attorney for Middlesex County who is committed to bringing both her professional experience as well as her perspective as a mother of two school-aged children to Congress.

As a part of her team, I had several different responsibilities. Most interesting was a policy proposal project regarding Massachusetts 4th Congressional District, a policy that can potentially be turned into legislation if Becky gets elected. I focused on renewable energy and sustainable infrastructure within the district, specifically looking into solar panel installation incentives as well as the offshore wind center that is being built in Somerset. Amongst other tax incentives, the Massachusetts Solar Loan Program seemed to be promising, and could prove to be an incredible program if approved. Currently, the program loans capital to homeowners for solar panel installation at a 5% interest rate. My proposal was to instead finance the program through net metering, and in doing so allowing the state to provide interest free loans to homeowners. Essentially, most houses with solar panels take in more power than they consume, which can be sold back to their utility company. My plan finances the loan program with that technique instead of an interest rate, giving homeowners the ability to receive an interest free loan, install their solar panels, and pay back their loan with the money made from the excess energy their house produces.

I also looked into the Somerset Clean Energy Center—an offshore wind facility being built off the coast. In particular, I researched tax incentives for the center to hire within the surrounding area, as the southern part of the district (where Somerset is located) is far less economically developed than the northern part. My plan was to expand the Work Opportunity Tax Credit—a tax incentive for companies to hire members of disadvantaged communities—to include poor neighborhoods as well. In addition to my research project, I completed more than 1500 calls to 4th District voters promoting Becky’s platform, as well as organized social media strategy through Twitter to inform voters about the race as well as our campaign’s message.

As a political science major and leadership studies concentrator, this experience gave me an incredible look into the politics of today. Through my classes at Williams I have been able to learn much about political histories and theories, but there is nothing like actually working on a campaign and seeing how the process works out in real time. I look forward to bringing my experiences this summer to the classroom, which will hopefully give me a more robust, thoughtful and practical perspective. I have yet to land on a specific career path, but this opportunity certainly gave me meaningful skills if I were ever to work on a campaign again, or even run for public office myself.