By Peter Shanley, Jamaica Plain Gazette

Nika Elugardo is an attorney, a former aide to local state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, and a former director of a nonprofit that provides financial education and other resources to those wanting to achieve financial stability and build wealth. She is looking to unseat longtime state Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez. The two candidates will face-off in the Democratic primary on Sept. 4 and the winner will effectively be the next representative as there will be no challengers in the general election in November. The Gazette recently conducted a question-and-answer session with Elugardo about the campaign and about the issues facing Jamaica Plain and the state. For more information about her, visit electnika.com. (The session has been edited.)

Q.: Why are you running for the 15th Suffolk District seat?

A.: I am running to help build a progressive coalition for lasting change in the Massachusetts House. Our current federal administration began on inauguration day to dismantle every advance in justice made in this generation. I looked to my state for an answer and found none.

While California stood up on climate and Vermont held ground on immigration, the Massachusetts legislature (specifically the MA House of Representatives) has responded with no more than generalized rhetoric, “killed” bills, and tiny baby steps on progressive issues where serious reform is needed, even on issues on which our constituents agree, such as climate change and restorative justice. I was encouraged by several state and city elected officials, as well as by justice advocates from all four neighborhoods in my district, to consider running for state representative to help address the leadership void in our state House of Representatives.

I learned that our current rep has consistently disappointed the progressive constituents and advocates of the 15th Suffolk. For far too long the progressive values of social change in my diverse district have not been reflected in our representation at the State House, despite strong leadership on the Senate side.

Read the full interview.