Democrat Allison Gustavson launches bid to unseat Republican Brad Hill

allison gustavson campaign launch
From left: Eileen Duff, candidate Allison Gustavson, and Elizabeth Kilcoyne

IPSWICH — For the first time in 10 years, state Rep. Bradford “Brad” Hill will face a Democratic challenger in the November election.

Launching her bid Thursday at the Hellenic Center in Ipswich, Allison Gustavson said, “I am running for state representative because I am on a mission to offer a new kind of leadership.”

“I have the energy, the ideas, the experience, and the determination to forge that partnership with you,” she said, adding, “Change for good starts here.”

Hill was first elected in 1998 to the state Fourth Essex District, which includes the towns of Ipswich, Hamilton, Rowley, Topsfield, Wenham, and Manchester.

“We are dismayed because many of those in power do not reflect our values,” Gustavson told the launch party.

A longtime Democrat, Gustavson became more active in politics after Donald Trump was elected.

“Just because a tweet was read by a million people does not make it worthy,” she said to laughter.

In 2016, Gustavson founded Essex County #6 Indivisible, a group committed “to resisting the [Trump] administration’s agenda where it fails to act on behalf of the greater good.”

Her LinkedIn profile says she was director of operations at GG&R Associates for 10 years between 2006 and 2016, when she was responsible for property management of a 72,000-square-foot building.

Prior to that, she was community relations director at Mayorga Organics for one year.

Between 2002 and 2006, she was a teacher in different roles, including a one-year assignment in Cairo, Egypt.

Gustavson’s website said she was inspired to become a teacher after witnessing the 9/11 attacks in New York.

It “was clear that in order for children to grow into tolerant, compassionate, and well-rounded adults, they needed the tools with which to engage and understand both their own culture and those with which they are unfamiliar,” the site said.

Prior to teaching, Gustavson was an operations analyst at True North Partners in New York City from 1999 to 2001, her LinkedIn said.

As her campaign ramps up, Gustavson said she has arranged meetings with selectmen and officials in each of the district’s towns to find out their concerns.

She said the main ones to date have been the environment, education, and the economy.

“I want to see this district thrive, from its classrooms to its clam flats,” she said.

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Towns in the Fourth Essex District

Turning to Hill’s record, Gustavson said he had an A rating from the NRA and a zero rating from Planned Parenthood.

She said Hill got a 64-percent rating from Mass Audubon, “but that’s still, in school terms, a D. I never got a D in my life,” she said.

Introducing Gustavson, Governor’s Councilor Eileen Duff said Gustavson will “not sit back and complain, but take action and make changes.”

“Is this district getting the money that it needs” for schools and roads? Duff asked.

“Do we have leadership that will stand up to the NRA? … We have a public health crisis with gun violence in this country,” she added.

“My sense is this is the best of the next generation coming forward to serve our country,” said Casey Wright, chairman of the Ipswich Town Democratic Committee.

He said female candidates have been stepping forward all over the country to take on incumbents.

A Manchester resident, Gustavson said her husband, Mark, is from Ipswich, where his family goes back to 1918.

Hill was first elected in 1998 after serving as a selectman in Ipswich. He is now assistant minority leader in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

According to Ballotpedia, Hill has run unopposed in the general election since 2008, when he beat Democrat Donald Bullimer.

Prior to that, Hill took on Democrat Timothy Purinton in 2004 and Libertarian Francis Maclcay-Smith in 2000.

In the 1998 election, he beat Democrat and fellow Ipswich selectman Patrick McNally with 62.7 percent of the vote.

Hill won the 1998 general election after he challenged and beat Forrester “Tim” Clark in the Republican primary earlier that year.