THIS GUEST OPINION PIECE BY: The state congressional delegation from the Greater Fall River area. See below for a list of submitting authors.

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, when Greater Fall River needed support for community organizations assisting homeless people, Ed Markey helped secure nearly $1.3 million in CARES Act funding for emergency shelter and support for individuals facing homelessness.

When Fall River needed funding to hire new firefighters, Ed Markey delivered and helped secure $2 million in FEMA grants for the Fall River Fire Department. When Fall River needed funds for hazmat training, Ed Markey delivered and helped secure $1.3 million in FEMA grant funding.

When Greater Fall River incurred costs after Superstorm Sandy and Winter Storm Nemo, Ed Markey helped to secure $500,000 in FEMA grants to pay for the damage. And when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission decided to approve a new LNG terminal in Fall River, Ed Markey condemned and fought against it.

When Greater Fall River needs him, Ed Markey delivers.

As members of the South Coast delegation, we’ve had the privilege of working with Senator Markey. We’ve seen his leadership, empathy, and creativity. He’s been a partner in our efforts to tackle issues ranging from lack of internet access to the climate crisis, and leads on those issues on a national scale – while never forgetting to deliver for Greater Fall River locally.

Thirty-two percent of households in Fall River aren’t connected to the internet. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, disparities in access to broadband created a homework gap for our lower-income and communities of color. As Senator Markey says, this homework gap leads to a learning gap which leads to an opportunity gap.

Ed Markey identified the need to connect students to the internet before nearly anyone else did. Ed authored the E-Rate program in 1996 to connect the nation’s school and libraries to the internet at affordable rates, and $54 billion in funding has been committed nationwide. Nearly $740 million of that has been in Massachusetts, and nearly $16 million in Fall River.

We’re proud that Fall River has issued thousands of Chromebooks and is purchasing hotspots to tackle the digital divide. But to fully support all of our students, we need what Ed is fighting to secure: a $4 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund that will ensure students have the technological tools they need to succeed.

Ed’s talent for spotting gaps in national discourse and proposing innovative policy solutions has fueled his leadership on another critical issue: the environment.

Greater Fall River’s beautiful coastline is at grave risk from climate change. Coastal communities like those in Greater Fall River will be some of the first to feel the impacts of rising sea levels. We need to take aggressive action now to stave off the worst effects of climate change and protect the marginalized communities who will suffer disproportionately.

Ed’s success in empowering students to utilize the internet and protecting the environment are just some of the reasons we need him to stay in the Senate. He’s led the fight on gun control, medical research funding for Alzheimer’s, disability rights, and dozens of other issues. And Ed’s lived experience growing up in a working-class neighborhood means he can “empathize with the issues he champions,” as recent endorser and healthcare activist Ady Barkan put it.

Ed Markey knows that justice demands our focus be broad and our ambition high. He knows we must rethink and reform every aspect of American society if we want our country, our Commonwealth, and Greater Fall River to be equitable and offer opportunity for all.

As elected officials, we feel more confident in our ability to implement progressive policy with Ed Markey as a partner. As residents, we feel safer with Ed Markey as our senator. Ed has always fought for us. And he’ll always fight for you. Vote for Ed Markey between now and September 1.

– Senator Michael J. Rodrigues

– Representative Patricia A. Haddad, Speaker Pro Temp

– Representative Paul A. Schmid, III

– Representative Alan Silvia

– Representative Carole A. Fiola

Editor's Note: 'SouthCoast Voices' is a series of guest blogs from newsmakers across the region, on relevant issues that directly impact the people of Greater New Bedford and the surrounding communities. The opinions are solely those of the author. If you are interested in contributing, please contact tim@wbsm.com for more information. 

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