Representative Trahan speaks to students at Blanchard Middle School


John Vassiliou

Representative Lori Trahan answers questions from students at Blanchard Middle School.

John Vassiliou, Online Managing Editor

On Friday, January 31, local Democratic Representative Lori Trahan visited Blanchard Middle School to speak with the eighth-grade class on how she became involved with politics and the importance for students to continue to further their educations.

After some initial introductions, including her family’s Portuguese background  and immigration to the United States, Trahan began to elaborate on the importance of maintaining a functional public school system and making sure that people are able to go to college should they so choose.

“My choices and my future would have been severely inhibited, limited, [if I didn’t get scholarship funds.] And so it’s the reason of college affordability and making sure that anyone who wants to go to college no matter if their zip code is 01886 or 01852, which is Lowell,” Trahan said.

Following local issues, Trahan elaborated on some of the issues she faces “on the hill.”  This included addressing women in politics, gun control, and national debt. However, Trahan also highlighted the new trend of young people becoming involved in issues outside of their home towns.

“You have this unbelievable influence on what happens to our laws or to our policies, to what our priorities are. And if there’s anything I learned last year, it was how strong our young people’s voices were … There are all these things right now that are being debated in Washington and what’s unbelievable and what’s different then even how it was five years ago, is that young people are forcing the discussion,” said Trahan.

Pressing another key issue, Trahan also spoke briefly on how the national debt will be inherited by the next generation of Americans.

“Same thing with our national debt. We’re twenty-two trillion dollars in national debt, our deficit is going to be a trillion dollars this year. That means that we’re actually spending more then we’re bringing in in taxes … if we don’t reconcile that, you’re going to inherit it back,” Trahan said.

Coming back to the importance of young voters being aware of the issues they may face, Trahan opened up the room to questions. One student asked about the type of legislation that she was associated with, to which Trahan cited her support of bills targeting substance abuse and pollution.

“I have a bunch of legislation that I introduced last year … One of the bills that I introduced was about substance disorder. In some of the communities that I represent, overdose deaths are at an all-time high. But, even in the communities that don’t have those high numbers, substance abuse disorder is an issue in all towns. It doesn’t matter where you go, everyone’s struggling,” said Trahan.

Another student asked why she considered herself to be a Democrat.

“I’ve been a Democrat my whole life, they sort of embody the values that I have and I was raised with … [We’re] built on a platform of fairness, making sure that no matter where you’re born you’ve got the opportunity and equal access. I think access is the keyword. [And in] Westford we might not feel the access issue because our public schools here are just tremendous. And there’s a lot of opportunities afforded. You go to a city like Lowell [or] Lawrence, it’s different,” Trahan said.

Relating to current issues, another student asked what Trahan’s stance was on the impeachment of President Donald Trump.

“I’ll start by saying [that] I didn’t run for office because I wanted to impeach the president. I actually ran for office for the exact opposite reason. When Washington doesn’t work and they’re in gridlock, and they’re constantly fighting, nothing gets done … We went through our investigation on the House side, we had an impeachment inquiry. There was evidence that came to light that what the President did was that he abused his office … [It’s] not only tough and not only important that we hold him accountable for right now, but I’m also more concerned about future presidents. If we don’t uphold [our constitution, and] if you don’t say that you cannot bribe a foreign government for help with your own reelection, which is basically what happened, then who knows what the next President will do?” said Trahan.

After answering a few more questions from students regarding other issues such as the minimum wage, Trahan left students with how important she believed speaking to the public is.

“One of the things that I do a lot of when I’m home is town halls, which I kind of set up like this, where people can come and just ask me questions and they can voice their concerns about the issues that they care about. If I’m going to represent them in Washington, I want to hear from them,” Trahan said.