After over 20 years in office, Secretary of State William Galvin will be challenged by Josh Zakim in the 2018 Democratic primary.
Zakim met with the Foxboro Democratic Town Committee on Monday evening to share his platform and answer questions.
The main focus of his campaign is voting access and voter rights, a cause he says the Secretary of State has a lot influence over as the chief elections officer.
“We need someone in that role who is going to be an advocate and a champion for voting rights and voting access,” he said. “This is the catalyst for why I’m running.”
Zakim said voter turnout has been low at the local and state level, even during presidential elections. He believes changes to our voter registration system, such as same-day registration or automatic registration, would encourage more citizens to vote.
“We are Massachusetts, the birthplace of American democracy,” he said. “We should not be toward the end of pack in measures of voter access. There is just no reason for that.”
The Secretary of State’s office has a lot of potential to enact change, he said, and in recent years has not served as a leader on voting rights.
“That’s sometimes going to happen when someone has been in that role for 25 years,” he said. “It’s time for a change. It’s time for new ideas in there.”
An attorney from Boston, Zakim began his career in 2010 at the Greater Boston Legal Services where he represented families who were facing foreclosure. During his time there he saw the change that can happen when government, local groups and citizens worked together, he said, a lesson that would later lead him to seek public office.
Currently, Zakim is serving his third term on Boston’s city council and is chair of the council’s Committee on Civil Rights and Committee on Consumer Affairs, Small Business and Regulations.
He is also the author of the Boston Trust Act, legislation that prohibits the police from holding people based on their immigration status. He has also filed legislation on voting access and rights at the city level. In late January, he is refilling legislation for automatic voter registration that would allow citizens to register to vote when they interact with city agencies, like getting a parking sticker or a library card.
Zakim is son of the late Lenny Zakim, the well-known Jewish-American religious and civil rights leader memorialized by naming Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge in his honor. Josh Zakim works to keep his father’s legacy alive by serving on the board of the Lenny Zakim Fund, which provides grants to local grassroots organizations seeking to address social issues such as youth violence, adult literacy and job training.
In addition to overseeing the Elections Division, the Secretary of State is in charge of Public Records Division, Corporations Division, Massachusetts Archives, Massachusetts Historical Commission, Securities Division and State Records Center.