Doctor’s Orders: Schwartz launches campaign for state representative [videos]

Greg Schwartz is a doctor, a dad and a former city councilor, and he has a law degree. And now he’s hoping to add work in the state legislature to that list of accomplishments.

Schwartz, who’s running to fill the Middlesex 12th District seat currently held by retiring State Rep. Ruth Balser, held his campaign kickoff party at the Women’s Club of Newton Highlands.

“If I am elected, I would be the only medical doctor out of 200 state legislators,” Schwartz noted. “And I think that’s really important.”

Schwartz talked about his mother’s battle with Parkinson’s disease when he was a child and how it exposed him to faults in our health care system.

“We also, as a family, saw how the system often failed the patients—not just my mom but others—and so it was then that, looking back, I believe I committed myself to a career in clinical medicine, because I wanted to bring the kind of compassionate and quality care to patients that my deserved and others deserved and weren’t getting,” he continued.

Schwartz would later find an interest in politics and policy, and he volunteered for then-Gov. Michael Dukakis’s presidential campaign in 1988.

Schwartz would go on to work for a member of Parliament in England and then for a member of Congress in Washington, D.C., before heading to medical school and also getting a law degree.

“Not because I wanted to ambulance-chase, not because I wanted to defend nonpractice suits—because I wanted to be involved in policy in my career as a doctor,” Schwartz said.

Schwartz joined a group of Massachusetts doctors in pushing for an amendment to the state’s constitution that would guarantee health insurance for every Massachusetts resident. That effort was dropped when the state passed its health care reform in the mid-2000s.

Schwartz was elected to the City Council in 2011 and served for eight years.

“Having served on the City Council, having been a primary care physician, being trained as a lawyer, I believe I bring knowledge of local issues from the City Council, a problem-solving, clinically fact-based approach to policy making, as well as the legal skills to know how to design and frame the bills so that we can achieve the goals that we want to achieve,” Schwartz said to the room full of supporters.

One of those supporters is Balser herself, who has endorsed Schwartz for the seat and spoke at his campaign launch.

“When I thought about it, it was very clear to me that there was one candidate who was head and shoulders over the others,” Balser said. “And I took a little time to think about who—and forgive me for personalizing it and calling it ‘my seat’—who did I want to pass my seat to, and there was just no question that that was Dr. Greg Schwartz.”

Balser said Schwartz’s background in medicine would add expertise to many legislative discussions around health care and related fields.

“He has taken on the issue of private equity getting involved with health care, he knows firsthand the problems many people still have accessing quality health care, and there’s nothing more important than that, as far as I’m concerned,” Balser said, noting that many health care issues are addressed by the legislature.

Schwartz’s daughter, Emily, spoke about growing up with a father involved in local government. She was in the first grade in 2011 when her dad was elected to the City Council.

“For me and my sister, I think it’s safe to say we didn’t know much about the job other than that he would be fixing potholes on our street,” she laughed. “And we were like, ‘Riveting… that’s great.”

As she got older and entered high school, Emily said, she started realizing local service was more than that, with all the late nights and missed bedtimes.

She said she also learned about her city, about politics, and about how to bring opposing sides together in compromise, and she recalled something her dad told her when she left for college.

“Always find the best strand in someone’s argument, especially someone who you vehemently disagree with,” Emily said.

Barbara Darnell of the Newtonville Area Council spoke to Shwartz’s role as a doctor and a city councilor and how the skillsets for those two jobs overlap.

What makes a good doctor? Somebody who listens, who spends time with their patients, who takes in all of the information, being thoughtful about it, and comes up with a solution for them,” Darnell said. “Doctors just need to find that way to get to their patients in a way that they’re heard, and that is what we can say about Greg.”

Schwartz will face current Newton city councilors Bill Humphrey and Rick Lipof for the primary in September before the general election begins. So far, no Republicans have announced a run for the seat.

More Photos: Greg Schwartz campaign launch

Left to right: City Councilors Rega Getz, Alan Lobovits and Julia Malakie attend Greg Schwartz’s campaign launch for state representative. Photo by Bryan McGonigle
Greg Schwartz, left, is running for the Middlesex 12th District state representative seat, long held by Ruth Balser, right, who has endorsed him for the seat. Photo by Bryan McGonigle
Emily Schwartz speaks about her father, Greg Schwartz, at his campaign launch for state representative. Photo by Bryan McGonigle
City Councilor Tarik Lucas talks to guests at Greg Schwartz’s campaign launch for state representative. Photo by Bryan McGonigle