Damali Vidot Highlights Connection Between COVID-19 and Environmental Justice

As the race for the House of Representatives’ Second Suffolk seat heats up, Damali Vidot, current At-Large Chelsea City Councilor and Candidate for State Representative of Charlestown and Chelsea, continues to build momentum from a diverse group of organizations, including a powerful slate of climate change and environmental justice advocacy organizations.

To date, she has been endorsed by the Massachusetts Chapter of Sierra Club, 350 Mass Action, Sunrise Boston, and the Environmental League of Massachusetts Action Fund.

This support is especially important as Massachusetts struggles to address COVID-19. Vidot, currently representing the COVID-19 hotspot of Chelsea, Massachusetts, has worked to highlight the intersections of environmental injustice and the virus in her leadership on the issue. Research has shown that communities with increased exposure to industrial pollution, which affects air quality and respiratory health, have suffered from higher rates of death due to COVID-19. The communities most burdened by this pollution are low-income communities and communities of color—including many residents of Charlestown and Chelsea.

“People tend to ignore the environmental impacts in our communities because it’s something that can’t be seen or touched. But those of us that have compromised immune systems can’t ignore it—we feel it every day.”, said Vidot.

“It’s particularly important for us, for communities like Chelsea and Charlestown, which suffer from dangerously high rates of asthma—to prioritize environmental justice. When a global pandemic comes to town it makes it almost impossible for us to fight it, compared to more affluent communities. The resources just aren’t there. We need real advocates to fight for our access.”

The high rates of asthma that Councilor Vidot mentions exacerbate the symptoms of COVID-19 and have led to the loss of over 150 lives in Chelsea.

Councilor Vidot is the advocate who will fight for the resources that Chelsea and Charlestown need. Her platform calls for robust environmental protections, including: the elimination of fossil fuel dependency in Massachusetts by 2030, a just transition to clean energy alternatives with investments in job training and job security for workers, and demands that residents have greater representation against the companies that have polluted and threatened communities like Chelsea and Charlestown for decades.

Vidot recognizes that she can’t build the path forward alone. And, in fact, she won’t have to. The many environmental justice and climate change advocacy organizations that have endorsed her campaign recognize the incredible work she has done, and expect an even greater impact when her voice is amplified at the State House.

Damali prioritizes “science-based and community-driven solutions”, said Clare Kelly of the Environmental League of Massachusetts Action Fund, and will take a “proactive leadership style to fight for her community”, according to Jonathan Cohn of Sierra Club MA. She has “an astounding record fighting for the most fundamental rights of her constituents”, said Sabrina Larkin of the Sunrise Boston Electoral Team. Cabell Eames of 350 Mass Action emphasized that Damali “will be an environmental and climate champion” on Beacon Hill.

This experience, as a proactive leader unafraid to dig in and get the work done is exactly what’s needed right now.

“At the end of the day, we have to re-imagine and re-envision our post-COVID world. The intersections of issues such as environment, racism, COVID-19, public health, housing security and transit have been ignored for far too long.”, said Vidot. “By recognizing how these areas intersect with each other, we can truly build an equitable world together. As your next State Representative for Charlestown and Chelsea, you’ll have more than a consistent vote–you’ll have an advocate, ally, and leader on the issues.”

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