‘All I ask for is civil discourse,’ said three-term representative
Update: While the letter was signed with a Tewksbury address, TPD Chief Ryan Columbus informed Nguyen that his department’s investigation showed that the writer is a former town resident who has since moved to Atkinson, New Hampshire. Columbus said “there are severe mental health issues at play.” Atkinson PD is aware and following up.
An unnamed former Tewksbury resident recently sent a misogynistic, profane and racist email to Representative Tram Nguyen, who has represented Andover, Boxford and North Andover along with Tewksbury since 2018 and is the first Vietnamese American woman in elected to office in Massachusetts. The resident included his name and former Tewksbury address.
As Tewksbury’s rep, Nguyen has sponsored a number of bills, including H.76, protecting sensitive information from security breaches; H.644 to to protect vulnerable elders from abuse; and, with Rep. Vanna Howard, H.868 mandating further testing after combined sewage overflow events and H.1703 for legislation to protect animals from convicted animal abusers.
One bill Nguyen has not sponsored is S.1458 and H.2151, which drove this rant. H.2151, the “Community Immunity Act,” is one of more than 7,000 bills filed and pertains to infectious disease prevention efforts and vaccines. Find the text and more information here. Nguyen said she does not have a position on the measure since she is not on that committee.
Seth Moulton, who represents Tewksbury at the federal level, publicly praised Nguyen for shining light on the type of communication too often directed at our elected representatives today.
“Political courage — a rare virtue in politics these days — runs strong through the veins of Rep. Tram Nguyen, whom I’ve always been honored to stand alongside,” wrote Moulton on X. “Proud of @TeamTram for exposing this pathetic, racist, and sexist spectator rant.”
Chairs of the Tewksbury Democratic and Republican Town Committees and the town’s DEI Advisory Committee were also united in condemning the letter.
“I’m absolutely disgusted by this repugnant message,” said Jayne Wellman, Select Board member and chair of the town’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Committee. “Knowing that this message of hate, violence, and misogyny came from a member of our community is deeply concerning. This incident shows that no community is immune from this kind of grotesque, hateful rhetoric.”
This letter highlights why the TDEIAC was formed, and Wellman said she would bring it up at the next meeting.
Both town political party leaders also weighed in.
“As a woman I find this abhorrent, and as a constituent I can honestly say there has never been a Tewksbury representative who has worked harder or has been more transparent than Representative Nguyen,” said Cathy Dwyer, chair of the TDTC.
Jeff Dufour, chair of the TRTC who also challenged Nguyen in 2022 for the 18th Essex District seat, characterized the letter as offensive.
“I do not condone such malicious personal attacks,” said Dufour. “Part of my push for Civics education is hoping it will promote civil discourse and encourage general civility.”
For her part, Nguyen declined to disclose the name of the letter writer but said the Tewksbury Police Department would do a wellness check to ensure he’s not a danger to himself. As noted above, TPD Chief Ryan Columbus informed Nguyen that the investigation showed the writer is a former resident who moved to Atkinson, NH, and who has mental health issues. Atkinson PD is aware of the situation.
“All I ask for is civil discourse,” she said.