Democrats on the North Shore and Merrimack Valley have a chance next week to make a strong statement about our representation in Washington, D.C. We think it’s time for a change from an incumbent clearly looking for his next job to someone engaged with the people of the district and their needs. Democrats would do well to select Angus McQuilken, of Topsfield, as their nominee for the 6th District’s seat in Congress.

McQuilken counts among his qualifications 30 years working for women’s health and gun control and in business as a former vice president for communication with the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. We’re impressed by his “Six for the 6th” list of priorities — economic recovery, affordable health care, support for local schools, transportation investment, gun violence prevention and addressing the effects of climate change. It is a clear road map for where he will expend his energy if elected.

McQuilken, 50, would bring a depth of knowledge and experience with him to Washington. He would also bring an enthusiasm that, frankly, seems missing from Moulton’s campaign.

Moulton bills his candidacy as “bringing a new generation of leadership to Washington.” Even as he runs for a fourth term, we’re unsure of where that leadership will be fixed. We have the distinct sense he’s already moved on.

The highlights of his current term were an effort to oust Nancy Pelosi as House speaker, without putting forth an alternative candidate, and a quixotic bid for president in which he barely registered in the polls before dropping out. Even now, Moulton talks about how Joe Biden’s campaign has sought his advice, which voters could take as a signal that he’s still looking for his next stop, maybe an appointment in a new administration.

Moulton did little to change this perception in a discussion with editors. The bright, veteran Marine who has made veterans’ issues a focal point of his work, for example, gave an anemic answer when asked how the federal government might prevent the kind of mismanagement at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home that led to the deaths of 76 residents from COVID-19. It should have been a softball question. He whiffed on the response.

We subscribe to Moulton’s idea about a new generation of leadership. We see that ideal better exemplified by his challengers, who in addition to McQuilken include Jamie Zahlaway Belsito, a Salem State University trustee who is running on 20 years of advocacy for women and families. In this race, we believe Democrats should choose McQuilken.

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