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Diann Slavit Baylis Eyes 8th as a Means to Impact Lives

By Oksana Kotkina

Diann Slavit Baylis, one of six candidates running for the 8th Essex District, likes to be involved in public service because she loves how it feels to change someone’s life and that it was that feeling that drove her to become an immigration attorney.

“I worked in Democratic politics for a long time, and I realized that helping people is what I want to do, and I thought by going to law school I could really have a significant impact on someone’s life,” Slavit Baylis said in a Saturday afternoon interview with the Item. “Through doing immigration law I know I did the right thing by going to law school.”

The sensation that she can change people’s lives with her service first came to her when she won her first immigration case and got status for two young boys from Guatemala. The same sensation runs through her veins every time she is working with complicated cases such as her recent Afghan clients.

“It’s like a puzzle, but it’s a puzzle that I enjoy doing, because I want to help them. This is not just a job, this is something I really want to help them with and allow them to stay in this country,” said Slavit Baylis.

Slavit Baylis said that she worked hard to make her way through college, and that although she got some federal grants, she always knew if she ever failed a course, that was her money, that wasn’t daddy’s or mommy’s money.

“If you are the last of nine kids you have to be scrappy, you have to know what you want and you have to work for it, and I knew early on,” said Slavit Baylis.

After giving birth to her first son, now 19, Slavit Baylis worked as a pro-bono attorney at Essex Probate and Family Court as part of their lawyer of the day program for four years. She later brought her newborn second son with her to work, after working there through her second pregnancy.

As a mother of four, Slavit Baylis plans to focus on improving education. Slavit Baylis said she is well aware of the ramifications in public education brought by the pandemic and said introducing more counselors to school staff to accommodate everyone could improve the situation.

As someone who had someone “very close” to her pass from gun violence, Slavit Baylis is adamant about keeping gun control regulations at the state level after the major Supreme Court decision last month that overturned a New York law that limited individuals’ ability to carry weapons in public.

“Discretionary licensing based on a standard of suitability, administered at the local level, is the key pillar of our most-effective-in-the-nation gun violence prevention laws in Massachusetts,” said Slavit Baylis.

The Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which established a nationwide right to abortion, reinforced civil rights as a pillar of Slavit Baylis’ agenda. She said that one of the most awakening moments for her happened when a high school student from Marblehead told her that she was not considering colleges outside of Massachusetts anymore because she would not feel safe in other states.

“That hit me, why we have to fight this,” said Slavit Baylis.

Slavit Baylis said that as an immigration attorney she was always confident that the US was a place where everyone could feel safe and confident in their own skin and that it deeply bothers her that at this point in national history the reverse is becoming true.

“America is a melting pot, and everybody’s history is different, and everybody is different,” said Slavit Baylis.

The environment and transportation are two other pillars of her platform. Slavit Baylis supports introducing incentives and rebates for driving electric cars and funding more charging stations. Public transportation and train service are also on top of this list along with the return of a ferry from Lynn to Boston to address the upcoming closure of the train station in Lynn, and the clean-up of King’s Beach.

“This is not just a real estate issue, it’s a health issue,” said Slavit Baylis of the polluted beach.

Slavit Baylis said that one of the keys to further advancement of the economy is workforce development in the life sciences, the state’s fastest-growing industry. She said she planned to focus on expanding STEM programs in the region’s high schools, colleges and universities to create a workforce that is qualified for these jobs.

“With enough funding and innovative thinking, we can introduce more well-paid jobs to the regional economy,” said Slavit Baylis.

A volunteer fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Association, who was a cast member in the PBS documentary “Divided We Fall”, Slavit Baylis who also completed a 210-mile ride from Massachusetts to Connecticut on a tandem bicycle together with her husband, Angus McQuilken, to raise gun violence awareness, is now eager to dedicate her knowledge and energy to 8th Essex.

“I am the last of nine kids, I know how to get things done. I will not give up, let’s put it that way. If something needs to be done, it needs to be done,” said Slavit Baylis.

Oksana Kotkina can be reached at

To view the original article, go to

Kotkina, Oksana. “Diann Slavit Baylis Eyes 8th as a Means to Impact Lives.” Itemlive, The Daily Item, 18 July 2022,

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