Gun violence prevention advocate eyes 6th District seat

Angus McQuilken of Topsfield

TOPSFIELD — Gun violence prevention advocate Angus McQuilken is running for Congress in the 6th District.

McQuilken said Thursday he is challenging Salem Congressman Seth Moulton in the 2020 Democratic primary.

"I’m running for Congress because we need a leader who can get results,” McQuilken said in a statement. "I’ve spent the past nearly 30 years in a series of leadership positions, building coalitions and getting legislation passed that is making a difference in people’s lives. I know how to bring about change in Washington, and have clear priorities for the 6th Congressional District that I will fight for as a member of Congress."

Among those priorities: gun violence prevention, the climate crisis, transportation, health care access, strengthening the local economy and making higher education more affordable.

McQuilken previously worked more than a decade for Cheryl Jacques, the first openly LGBTQ state senator in Massachusetts. He served as deputy communications director for the Democratic National Convention Committee, was vice president for public affairs for Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, and was vice president for communications and marketing for the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. He now works in business development for a large law firm.

After the massacre in a school in Newtown, Connecticut, he co-founded the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence.

McQuilken joins the race shortly after Salem City Councilor Lisa Peterson ended her campaign. The announced field also includes women's mental health advocate Jamie Belsito of Topsfield.

Back in May, McQuilken, 50, floated the idea of a run as Moulton made a bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. Moulton, who grew up in Marblehead, dropped out of the presidential race this summer and is seeking a fourth term in Congress.

McQuilken said in a press release he spent the summer and early fall traveling the district and listening to constituents.

In his statement, he said 6th District residents are frustrated by the lack of progress in Washington.

“From gun violence to the climate crisis, to healthcare, transportation, higher education access and the economy, we are not getting the leadership that we need. As a member of Congress, I will not rest until these issues are addressed and meaningful change is secured.”

McQuilken lives in Topsfield with his wife Diann. Together they have four children, ages 8 to 16.

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at or on Twitter at @TannerSalemNews.

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