TOPSFIELD — Gun violence prevention advocate Angus McQuilken announced Thursday he will challenge Seth Moulton for the 6th District seat in Congress.

"I’m running for Congress because we need a leader who can get results,” McQuilken, a Democrat, 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."

Those priorities include gun violence prevention, climate change, transportation, access to health care, the local economy and affordable higher education.

McQuilken worked more than a decade for former state Sen. Cheryl Jacques, the first openly LGBTQ state senator in Massachusetts.

He was deputy communications director for the Democratic National Convention Committee, vice president for public affairs for the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, and vice president of communications and marketing for the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center.

He now works in business development for a large law firm.

After the December 2012 school shooting 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 that includes most of the North Shore and lower Merrimack Valley, and stretches west to Tewksbury and Billerica. 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," he said. "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. 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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