My name is Susan Donovan, and I am running for State Representative. I’m writing this piece so you can learn a little more about me and hopefully understand why I’m running.
Right now at the State House there is an empty seat where a Representative should be sitting. We deserve better. I grew up in Bristol and raised my children here. There is no community I care more deeply for. I’m running for State Representative because it is time we had someone who truly cares about our community representing us. I may be a new face in politics—but I am not new to the hard work that’s required to affect positive change.
Even though I’m retired, I will always consider myself an educator. I served in the Bristol Warren School System for 33 years. I truly believe and have always believed that a quality public education is the key to any successful community. Our school district has exceeded expectations and currently is one of the states recognized ‘high performing schools.’ But, because of the passage of the 2010 school funding formula, Bristol is suffering. The budget shortfalls we face are dire and need to be addressed. We need to seriously study and address the way we fund our public schools; urban, suburban, and regional, so that it is equitable and beneficial for all.
I am a lifelong advocate for children and families and am a founding member and the current Chair of the East Bay chapter of Habitat for Humanity (HFH). There is a shortage of good affordable housing available and we must do more to help. We recently finished our fifth HFH project right here in Bristol and now another deserving family has a safe and affordable place to call home. Projects like this are crucial to ensuring working families have a chance to get ahead and we need to be doing more not less.
I am a current board member of the environmental organization, Save Bristol Harbor. Our mission is to preserve the health, safety and integrity of the coastal waters and watersheds of Bristol. Recently, we led the fight to defeat the transport of Liquefied Natural Gas. We organized our neighboring communities in RI and South Coast Massachusetts to join us in pushing to fight this dangerous proposition. I attended dozens of meetings with local officials, state lawmakers, and the Attorney General’s office to make it clear our community did not want this. I am proud to say that we were successful! Today, along with a team of local volunteers, I test the quality of our waters bimonthly and work to educate local students on the importance of watersheds and the problems ocean and shoreline debris present to our environment.
When I decided to run, I thought about the children in our schools. I thought about families struggling to get by. The politicians are the ones who betray our trust, but we are the ones left voiceless. It is our community that gets left without someone fighting for us at the State House. Think about that. When the budget comes around, there will be no one there to stand up and say what the people of our district believe. When they talk about the school funding formula, there will be no one there to say what we need. There will just be an empty chair.
We need real ethics reform, but we also need representatives who aren’t in it for themselves. I promise you I’ll never betray your trust because I’m not running to make my life better. I’m not running to further my own interests. I’m running for the same reasons I became a teacher, for the same reason I helped build those homes and keep our bay clean: To make lives better and our community stronger.