3 Democratic candidates for governor passionately state their case

By Michael Holtzman
April 15, 2018

The three Democratic candidates for governor, all living in the Boston area, presented many similar “progressive” priorities that sat well with a receptive audience at a recent Coalition for Social Justice forum at Bristol Community College.

The differences were sharp, however, in terms of experience in government and how Bob Massie, Setti Warren and Jay Gonzalez might govern, while naturally agreeing the Republican administration of Gov. Charlie Baker was not doing its job fighting for the majority of citizens.

“The defining issue of our time is economic inequality,” said Warren, 47, of Newton.

The former eight-year mayor of his hometown, an Iraq veteran with a law degree, Warren in his opening statement said that all three agree on many issues in contrast with Baker.

Those shared priorities include things like $15 an hour minimum wages and single-payer health care and building the full route for South Coast Rail even though it will cost more and take more time.

He said their national message inspired a movement against gun control that needs to be expanded to other issues, which he referenced during the two-hour CSJ forum.

“If I’m your governor, I will fight for a living wage, paid family leave, affordable housing and debt-free college,” said Gonzalez, 47, of Needham.

He said their national message inspired a movement against gun control that needs to be expanded to other issues, which he referenced during the two-hour CSJ forum.

“If I’m your governor, I will fight for a living wage, paid family leave, affordable housing and debt-free college,” said Gonzalez, 47, of Needham.

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Three Democratic candidates for governor speak their minds
A former health insurance CEO and secretary of administration and finance under the prior Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick, he said bringing single-payer health care would make quality care affordable for all.

Gonzalez said President Donald Trump “is taking us backwards,” while calling Baker “a status quo, wait-and-see governor” with a poor record fighting discrimination.

“Charlie Baker has set us up for a fiscal crisis,” Gonzalez said. He claimed “rainy-day funds” are low and called the state’s finances “the scandal nobody is talking about.”

Massachusetts will be one of 36 states electing its governor in November.

While all three Democrats trail the popular Baker by huge margins, Gonzalez was undaunted: “We’re going to win this election,” he said.

“I’m a movement guy like you,” Massie, 61, of Somerville, told the BCC audience of approximately 100 people. He and his wife are both union members as an author and a college instructor, respectively.

Massie said he didn’t obtain his doctorate from Harvard Business School to earn more money.

It was to be “a more powerful advocate” for “economic, racial and social justice,” said Massie, who “formed coalitions” for change including global energy improvements.

“What we have here is economic power subverting democratic government,” Massie said.

The renowned environmentalist and businessman said whether change requires inspiring people, pushing them or law changes, “I know how to do that.”

He also brought the most compelling background of overcoming personal hurdles.

“Are any of you nurses?” Massie asked when an audience question focused on the candidates’ support for the “Safe Patient Limits” ballot initiative in November. (All three favor passage.)

Born with genetic disorders that included bleeding from his joints, Massie said, “I couldn’t walk by age 4.” He was in a wheelchair and later required a liver transplant.”

Eight years later they moved to France, and he received extraordinary medical care.

While he uses a cane, he proudly said, “everything’s been cured.

“I know a lot of nurses,” he said on key ballot point of setting “safe patient limits” for medical treatment. “We need to make sure this passes.”

Massie said he’d be “a voracious advocate” for people with disabilities and “an inclusive governor.”

Gonzalez said he was the only candidate in the race with who’d worked in health care in the private and public sectors. “I know the industry.”

“The most important way we measure ourselves is how we treat the most vulnerable,” Gonzalez said of children, the elderly and those who are disabled.

Warren concentrated comments on the opiate crisis and state deficiencies in transportation and public education.

On the issue of supporting the Legislature’s recently released criminal justice reform bill, Warren told why, unlike the other two candidates, he’d oppose and veto it as governor.

He cited new mandates in the bill for “nonviolent drug offenders.”

He said mandatory minimum sentences included in this bill “are discriminatory” and they “don’t reduce crime.”

“Do I believe we should put in place new discriminatory practices? No,” Warren said.

Massie said he’d sign it as a step toward combating “institutional racism and fundamental inequality.”

Gonzalez said he opposes all mandatory minimum sentences except for murder. He called criminal justice reform “the single biggest rights issue of our time.”

While this bill “is not perfect,” he’d sign it.

The CSJ supports the bill.

Prior to this forum, the candidates filled out lengthy questionnaires on a dozen issues that included revenue, jobs/workers’ rights, immigration, the environment and transportation.

The audience received their written responses and could ask questions from them. The CSJ moderator and president, Dan Gilbarg, asked the trio to pose a question to each other and also pay each other a compliment.

Massie received a few chuckles when telling Gonzalez his tenacity makes him “keep upping my game,” and complimented Warren’s sense of humor.

All three gave similar responses to whether they supported Baker’s revised two-part plan for South Coast Rail to include an initial stage through Middleboro and the completed route through Stoughton nearly a decade later.

“I don’t believe in the Middleboro plan,” Warren said. He advocated greater efforts toward a regional transportation system.

“I believe Phase II will never happen under his plan,” Gonzalez said. “The Stoughton route is the right way to go.”

“I also support the Stoughton route,” Massie said. “The governor has not laid out a full plan.”

After the speaking program, Gilbarg asked the candidates to leave the room while he conducted an informal straw poll of whom they thought responded best. By a show of hands, Massie received the most votes with 22, followed by Gonzalez with 13 and Warren with 10.

A few people in the audience answered a reporter’s question on whom they supported afterward.

Carl Rodrigues, a retired production supervisor from Fall River, said he backed Massie because he found him the “most progressive.”

“I was disappointed,” Margaret Amaral, a small businesswoman from New Bedford said of the vote. “Setti Warren has impressed me from the beginning. He’s got my vote.”

Ana Bracero of New Bedford said she liked Warren because “he talked a lot more about solving issues.”

The Rev. James Hornsby of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Fall River said, “I thought Jay Gonzalez gave terrific answers.”

Hornsby, like many in the audience, is a member of the CSJ, formed in 1994.

Full Story: Herald News

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Candidate’s vow to veto justice reforms costs him support

By Matt Murphy
April 11, 2018

Democrat Setti Warren said last week that he was taking a principled stand against mandatory minimum sentences when he said he would veto a criminal justice reform bill backed unanimously by legislative Democrats, but that stand appears to be alienating the gubernatorial hopeful from some leaders in his own party.

“I thought that was an uninformed statement,” Sen. William Brownsberger told the News Service on Tuesday about Warren’s position.

As Gov. Charlie Baker weighs whether to sign the sweeping criminal justice reform package now on his desk, Warren’s position has not only shed some light on how the former Newton mayor might govern, but also exposed one of the first real pressure points in the three-way Democratic primary for governor.

Warren’s primary opponents – former state budget chief Jay Gonzalez and environmentalist Robert Massie – both say they would sign the bill, even though they share Warren’s opposition to mandatory minimum sentences.

And the two lead negotiators of the compromise bill, which has become one of the signature achievements for Democrats this legislative session, said Warren’s position gave them pause.

“This bill repeals a number of mandatory minimums as well as doing a whole lot of other good, so you got to look at the bigger picture,” Brownsberger said. He added, “Following that statement, I endorsed Jay Gonzalez.”

Warren said last Wednesday that despite agreeing with 99 percent of the bill’s objectives, if he were governor he would veto the legislation because it added a new three-and-a-half year minimum sentence for someone convicted of trafficking the deadly synthetic opioids fentanyl and carfentanil.

He also said that the new minimum sentence was included in the final bill “seemingly at Baker’s insistence.”

Warren and his campaign were clear after followup questioning that he would not return the bill to the Legislature with an amendment to strike the new mandatory minimum, even though that would be an option for a governor. A veto can be overriden by the Legislature with a two-thirds vote in each branch.

Rep. Claire Cronin, the co-chair of the Judiciary Committee with Brownsberger who also negotiated the final bill, said she agreed with Brownsberger’s assessment of Warren’s take on the bill.

“I’m not sure he understands the process, that the governor can actually send the bill back with an amendment, and that would be concerning to me,” Cronin said of Warren.

Brownsberger also flatly denied that Baker played any role in pressuring the conference committee to include the new mandatory minimum fentanyl trafficking sentence, and said the governor was one of many voices in the process who advocated for tough fentanyl penalities.

“That came from a lot of directions,” Brownsberger said.

Warren has dug in on his veto position in gubernatorial forums since he issued his statement, according to some who have attended, and the topic has become a major point of debate for the three men in the field.

Gonzalez told the News Service he would sign the legislation, even though he has proposed eliminating all mandatory minimums, and then go to work to try to build upon the positive elements of the bill. He highlighted an expansion of court diversion programs and bail reforms that cut down on people being jailed because they can’t afford to pay a court fine.

“Obviously, I disagree with Setti on his approach to this,” Gonzalez said. “If that is Setti’s sole criteria, his objection to mandatory minimum sentences, vetoing the bill would have the opposite effect because there are more mandatories removed than added. So I don’t agree with the premise of his objection.”

In addition to the new minimum sentence for fentanyl trafficking, the bill also does away with several mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenses, including first and second offenses for cocaine possession.

Gonzalez also said he wouldn’t try to amend the bill.

“I wouldn’t want to put the entire piece of legislation at risk by sending it back and asking for an amendment,” he said.

Warren posted a video to his Facebook page last week of him explaining his decision to a group of students, and acknowledged that many legislators were “not happy with yours truly” and had called him to make that point clear.

But in a statement to the News Service on Tuesday, Warren said that had not dissuaded him from his position, nor did he need to be schooled on what his options would be should he become governor.

“I’m thankful for the hard work that went into putting this bill together and I acknowledge there are many things great things in it,” Warren said. “I appreciate the lesson on legislative procedure, but I don’t need anyone to explain to me the process by which mandatory minimum sentences have destroyed communities of color.”

Warren continued, “As people are trying to wrap their heads around this bill, I want them to understand where I stand. When I’m governor, we’ll work to eliminate all mandatory minimum sentence for non-violent drugs crimes, and I will not sign any bill that implements a new mandatory minimum law.”

Massie, in a statement, said vetoing the bill would be a “well-intentioned mistake.”

“Instead of getting rid of everything good about this bill by vetoing it, the governor should sign the bill, immediately introduce legislation to end minimum mandatory sentences for non-violent offenses, and work with the legislature to pass it,” Massie said.

Full Story: Salem News

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Setti Warren earns transit endorsement in bid for governor

By Cyrus Moulton
April 6, 2018

The union of bus drivers at the Worcester Regional Transit Authority and the Funding for Public Transit Committee endorsed Setti Warren for governor Friday, saying the Newton Democrat was a strong ally as they fight proposed service cuts due to level funding in the governor’s budget.

“You’ve got to go with the guy we think will be the most outspoken about this,” said Justin Lawson, a member of the Funding For Public Transit Committee and a bus driver at the WRTA. “And someone who wants to not just to get the $88 million funding but will fight to expand service.”

Since 2014, the state’s 15 RTAs have expected $2 million increases in funding each year – to go from $80 million in 2015 to $88 million in 2019. Transit agencies, however, were level-funded at $82 million in 2016 and 2017, and received $80.4 million for the current fiscal year.

Faced with a nearly $1 million shortfall, the WRTA cut service, and raised fares for the first time since 2009, to balance its budget for the current cycle.

But the governor’s 2019 budget level-funds transit authorities as officials say costs for fuel, health insurance and contracts have gone up. As a result, the WRTA faces a $900,000 shortfall for the next year and has proposed service cuts ranging from reducing service on certain lines by half to eliminating weekend service.

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 22 and the Funding For Public Transit Committee, a group of union members lobbying legislators for the full RTA funding, hosted Mr. Warren Friday for a tour of the WRTA Maintenance and Operations Center, a meet and greet with passengers at the WRTA Hub on Foster Street, and a small gathering at the NU Cafe on Chandler Street.

“I am really honored to be standing here with you all, the WRTA, and receive your endorsement,” Mr. Warren said before launching into a speech where he outlined transportation, education and opioid epidemic needs facing the commonwealth.

“It is backward not to fully fund the RTA and it’s also backward not to expand it,” said Mr. Warren. “We can no longer afford to embrace the status quo and low expectations of this governor, Charlie Baker, and Beacon Hill.”

Full Story: Worcester Telegram

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Setti Warren: Standing Up for What is Right

By Setti Warren
April 5, 2018

Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination. It’s got me thinking about about my parents.

After my dad came home from the Korea, he and my mother went down to North Carolina so they could go to school. As young as they were, they both threw themselves into the Civil Rights Movement. They sat at lunch counters, risking violence and suffering all kinds of verbal abuse. My dad got arrested more than once.

They did it all in the hope that the next generation would inherit a world that was a little more fair and a little more just. At this moment in our country’s history, that generational obligation weighs heavily on me because of my family’s history.

I often ask myself, what am I doing every day to not be afraid–to say what’s right and to not back away from my principles. Yesterday was one of those days.

Earlier this week, both houses of the Massachusetts legislature passed a criminal justice reform bill. Nearly all of the bill is excellent and some great advocates and good Democrats worked very hard on it for a long time.

I had to tell my friends in the legislature, many of whom I admire greatly, that I would have vetoed their bill if I were governor. I could not in good conscience sign any bill that creates new mandatory minimum sentences. They are discriminatory, ineffective, and lead to mass incarceration.

The criminal justice reform bill passed by the legislature includes new mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent opioid related offenses, even though the bill also repeals other such sentences for non-violent drug convictions. These new mandatory minimums were part of a proposal put forth last summer by Gov. Charlie Baker.

The opioid epidemic is a public health crisis, but Gov. Baker is still approaching it like a criminal justice issue. If we learned anything from the failed ‘war on drugs’ mentality of the 1980’s and 90’s, it’s that harsh sentencing laws that take away judges’ discretion can destroy communities and do absolutely nothing to curb addiction.

If we are finally starting to recognize that mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug crimes should be repealed, why on earth would we want create a new law that we know will have the same effect?

I know many of my friends on Beacon Hill are upset by my position, but I’ve seen what misguided policies like mandatory minimums have done to communities, particularly communities of color–and I just can’t look the other way.

Please, take a moment to watch and share this video. It’s about my family and my reasons for making this decision.

Full Story: Blue Mass Group

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Meet The Candidates: Massachusetts Democratic Gubernatorial Hopeful Setti Warren

By Josh Landes
April 1, 2018

In November, voters in Massachusetts will decide if they want to keep Charlie Baker as governor. With the first-term Republican preparing to defend his seat, WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Josh Landes spoke with the three Democrats hoping to oppose him. In the last part of our series, we hear from ex-Marine and two-term Newton Mayor Setti Warren.

Listen: WAMC

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Democratic gubernatorial candidates discuss middle class struggles at Northampton forum

By Lucas Ropek
March 28, 2018

Democratic gubernatorial candidates Jay Gonzalez, Bob Massie, and Setti Warren participated in a forum at Northampton High School Wednesday night.

The event, which was moderated by former Northampton Mayor Claire Higgins, saw around two hundred people pack into the school’s auditorium to hear the candidates speak. The forum was co-sponsored by the Democratic city and town committees of Amherst, Easthampton, Holyoke, Northampton, South Hadley, and Southampton.

Candidates answered questions from a panel made up of local journalists and academics, and also answered questions that had been submitted from several local non-profits and members of the public.

“The jobs in this state suck,” said Massie at one point, going on to decry the state of opportunity for young people across Massachusetts. Much of the evening’s discussions were in that spirit, and centered around struggling middle class families, income inequality, the opioid crisis, the poor state of public transportation and current Gov. Charlie Baker’s failure to properly mitigate any of these problems for everyday people.

Massie, who has worked as an activist and founder for numerous non-profits and organizations including the New Economy Coalition and Ceres, reiterated throughout the night that he felt Baker’s policies were literally bankrupting the state and the people in it.

Gonzalez, who formerly served as the Deputy Secretary of Administration and Finance in Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration, called Baker a “state quo, wait-and-see Governor,” and criticized him for not taking action where it was needed.

Democratic gubernatorial candidates address the issue of housing in Massachusetts
Warren, who served two terms as the Mayor of the city of Newton, and held positions in campaigns for Bill Clinton and John Kerry, called income inequality the “defining issue of our time” and said he believed that the key to fixing the middle class was asking wealthier Massachusetts residents “to contribute more.”

Warren, who also formerly served as a naval intelligence specialist during the Iraq War and worked in the Clinton White House for several years, further stated he believed state revenue could be raised by closing tax loopholes for special interests.

With the issue of housing, all candidates agreed that something should be done to make sure that working families were not left behind or edged out of their neighborhoods.

Massie advocated a consideration of rent control, remarking that housing could not be left up to markets because “markets build expensive housing for rich people, so you have to have the government step in.”

Gonzalez called the price of housing in Massachusetts a “crisis,” commenting “our economy is dependent on the fact that the work force can afford to live where they work, and we don’t have that right now.”

Warren said that Massachusetts shouldn’t allow “developers to run the process” for housing. “We need to subsidize housing, folks,” he said, commenting that state and federal funding was necessary.

On the issue of sanctuary cities, all candidates were also in agreement: immigrants need to be protected.

Warren said that he supported immigrants and believed in sanctuary cities.

Gonzalez said he supported immigrants, bringing up the current controversy in Springfield surrounding Mayor Domenic Sarno’s comments about a church providing sanctuary to an undocumented immigrant. Gonzalez called Sarno’s rhetoric “outrageous.”

Massie said that he felt Massachusetts and the country should be welcoming to immigrants. “This is a nation built on immigrants,” he said, while also calling Trump a “vicious” and “cruel” President that didn’t understand America’s core values.

Full Story: MassLive

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Independent commission should investigate Massachusetts State Police scandals, Democratic candidate for governor Setti Warren says

By Gintautas Dumcius
March 28, 2018

An independent commission should be appointed to investigate the Massachusetts State Police as the law enforcement agency grapples with multiple scandals, a Democratic candidate for governor said Wednesday.

Gov. Charlie Baker, R-Swampscott, appointed a new superintendent, Kerry Gilpin, in November 2017 after Col. Richard McKeon stepped down amid a scandal over the scrubbing of an arrest report on a judge’s daughter.

Two rank-and-file troopers have filed a federal lawsuit saying they were forced to revise the report, and one of the supervisors said the order came from Dan Bennett, Baker’s public safety chief. Bennett has said he never asked, and he wasn’t asked, to do anything with the police report.

Since then, other scandals involving the agency have surfaced, including phantom overtime shifts and a trooper writing racist posts on the MassCops message board.

“Over the last six months, one scandal after another has come out of the Massachusetts State Police,” former Newton Mayor Setti Warren, one of three Democrats running for governor, said in a statement. “Each time Gov. Baker has claimed surprise and then promised to get to the bottom of it, but each time, nothing has happened.”

Baker has noted that Gilpin has been conducting her own investigations and audits, and Attorney General Maura Healey is looking into both the scrubbed arrest report and the phantom overtime shifts. The phantom overtime traffic patrols have been referred to Healey for potential criminal charges.

“I’d certainly be the first to agree that it’s important for the State Police to get its act together and I would argue that some of the actions that have been take by the new colonel so far are directly designed to address some of those issues, but it’s clear that the State Police is going to have to work back some of that public credibility that’s been sacrificed by some of these really bad actors,” Baker said on Monday.

“The good news on this is the new colonel, Colonel Gilpin, started a significant expansion of the an investigation on overtime that had begun under the previous colonel and as a result of that 20 members of the State Police who were deemed to be violating practices, policies, protocols, and potentially engaged in criminal activity were referred to the attorney general’s office for criminal review and the rest of ’em have either been suspend without pay or left the force,” Baker added.

But Warren said state lawmakers should set up a special commission to review the problems within the State Police. In December 2017, Warren had called for Baker to appoint a special investigator.

Legislators at the State House, dominated by Democrats, have shied away from holding hearings on the State Police, leaving the spotlight to the internal investigations and Healey’s office. Lawmakers have faced their own internal issues, ranging from fallout over sexual harassment allegations to the indictment of a former state senator, Brian Joyce.

Full Story: MassLive

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Massachusetts Democratic Candidates For Governor Talk Policy In Pittsfield

By Josh Landes
March 26, 2018

The three Democratic candidates running for governor of Massachusetts convened for a forum in Pittsfield Sunday.

Pittsfield’s American Legion Hall was full of Berkshire Democrats Sunday afternoon, gathering to hear the gubernatorial hopefuls detail their positions on a variety of topics. The forum, moderated by State Senator and fellow Democrat Adam Hinds, saw Setti Warren, former mayor of Newton; Jay Gonzalez, former state Secretary of Administration and Finance; and activist Bob Massie answer questions from the assembled voters as each made their pitch to take on Republican Governor Charlie Baker in November. Baker, who remains popular in the latest polls, is expected to seek a second term.

Massie took did not mince words in addressing a feeling long held by residents of the region.

“If I’ve learned anything out in Western Mass, it’s you’ve been screwed for too long,” said Massie.

The candidates were quick to hone in on the issues facing Western Massachusetts. The county pays some of the highest rates for electricity in the country under energy giant Eversource, New England’s largest energy provider.

“We need to have 100 percent clean renewable energy, instead of being ripped off by a bunch of utilities that are serving not our public interest but the interest of their hedge fund investors,” said Massie.

Warren, responding to a question about rising utility rates, expanded the criticism to the Baker administration.

“First of all, we need to have a Department of Public Utilities that actually works for the public, because they’re not right now, they are in fact appointments coming directly from Eversource that Charlie Baker has made,” said Warren. “We need to support Maura Healey’s efforts to ensure that Eversource does not unfairly raise rates.”

The candidates also addressed Berkshire County’s transportation needs.

“We have one of the worst transportation systems in the country. It is dragging Massachusetts backwards,” Jay Gonzalez said.

“We need to be honest about the fact that we’ve been starving our transportation system for years of the revenue it needs, and we need to invest more in it. It’s one of the reasons I support the so-called Millionaires Tax as a meaningful first step towards getting the additional revenue we need to not only fix the roads and bridges and transit systems across this state that have been underfunded, but to make some of the transformational investments in our transportation system that would drive economic growth, actually attract more young people and others to come to this part of the state and live here and reverse the trend of population decline here, and grow the economy here,” said Gonzalez.

The forum also addressed front page issues, with a pair of local students who had attended the March For Our Lives in Washington a day before asking the candidates for their stances on gun control.

Gonzalez commented on the fact that the weapon used in the Parkland shootings was made in Massachusetts.

“This is something we can do — we ban civilians from being able to buy or have assault rifles here in Massachusetts, we should ban their manufacture for sale to civilians too,” said Gonzalez.

Warren spoke directly to the teens…..

“I support lowering the voting age to 16 because of YOU,” said Warren.

….as did Massie.

“Go ahead, write the history books!” said Massie.

Warren drew on his own experiences as a veteran.

“As a person who carried around an M-16 for a year in Iraq, I know, and I’m the only person on the stage certified to fire one of these things, they have no business being in our schools, our neighborhoods, our communities,” Warren said.

Each candidate played up his unique background: Warren is the only candidate with military experience. Gonzalez is the only candidate with experience in the governor’s office under popular Democrat Deval Patrick. And Massie would be the only governor to also be a union member in state history.

The tone was friendly, each of the three pledging to support any eventual nominee, and all enthusiastic about their odds on besting Baker in the fall despite the governor’s favorable position in the polls. Again, Massie.

“The main reason people think that he can win is because they are falling for his Jedi mind trick. And the Jedi mind trick goes like this: ‘I’m very popular. I have a lot of money. I’m very tall. This is not the race you’re looking for.’ The reality is he won by the smallest margin in the history of Massachusetts,” Massie said.

Primaries are scheduled for September 4th in Massachusetts.
Full Story: WAMC

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Political big guns get behind Hawkins, Hall in Attleboro state rep race

By Jim Hand
March 25, 2018

Some of the state’s top political leaders came to Attleboro over the weekend to push for Jim Hawkins and Julie Hall in an April 3 special election for state representative.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker was among those stumping in the city as he went to a reception at Morin’s Restaurant to endorse Hall, the Republican in the race.

A number of Democrats, including U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy, D-Brookline, and U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., threw their support behind fellow Democrat Hawkins.

Baker told a crowd of about 75 people that he likes supporting candidates for the Legislature like Hall who have served in municipal government.

Municipal officials are accustomed to being held accountable, he said.

Hall, a city councilor, knows government “is about what goes on back home,” he said at the Saturday afternoon event.

A former Swampscott selectman, Baker said local government officials know how to “work with all kinds of folks.”

Earlier in the day, at an annual Democratic Unity Breakfast, about 150 in attendance heard speaker after speaker urge voters to back Hawkins, a former school teacher.

They pointed out that Hawkins supports a surtax on millionaires to fund education and transportation while Hall opposes it.

Those speaking in favor of Hawkins included Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin and State Sen. Paul Feeney, D-Foxboro.

Speaking for himself, Hawkins focused on differences he has with Hall on a number of issues.

Hawkins said school systems such as Attleboro have had to lay off teachers in recent years and the millionaires’ tax is the only way of funding more state aid to education.

He also touted his experience as a small businessman running gas stations and auto part stores before becoming a math teacher at Attleboro High School.

Also on Saturday, Kennedy campaigned door-to-door with Hawkins while Markey did it Sunday.

Hall and Hawkins are running in a special election to fill the state representative seat vacated by Paul Heroux when he became mayor.

At her event, Hall told an audience that included several Republican city councilors and legislators that her campaign slogan is “One for all, Julie Hall” because she represents everyone.

She said she has worked her way up in politics, serving as a planning board member and city councilor.

A retired Air Force officer, she said she did the same thing in the military, earning her way up the ladder.

State Rep. Betty Poirier, R-North Attleboro, acted as master of ceremonies.

She put her arm around Hall and said to the audience: “Of course you all know the next partner I want is this one.”

Beyond the Hall-Hawkins special election, the Democratic breakfast featured a long list of candidates in the fall state elections.

They included candidates for governor Jay Gonzalez, Robert Masse and Setti Warren; lieutenant governor contenders Jimmy Tingle and Quentin Palfrey, and those running for county commission, governor’s council and other posts.

Heroux did the cooking at the 21st annual unity breakfast and for the 11th year in a row, former state Treasurer Steve Grossman took everyone out for ice cream after the event.
Full Story: The Sun Chronicle

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Plotting their path to challenge Baker, Democratic gubernatorial candidates make pit stop in Pittsfield

By Dick Lindsay
March 25, 2018

Ella Dudley and Karen McComish know how to strike when the iron is hot.

On Sunday afternoon, the two juniors at Mount Greylock Regional High School personally asked the three Democratic candidates for governor their stand on gun control and the teenager-led campaign to make America safe from gun violence. Dudley and McComish, back from Saturday’s March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C., were the only audience members to directly address the gubernatorial hopefuls during a standing-room-only, two-hour forum at the American Legion Hall.

Setti Warren, Jay Gonzalez and Bob Massie responded to the teens by calling for a halt to assault weapon production in Massachusetts, as the state already bans ownership of such high-powered weapons.

“If you ever read a medical report on what happens to the human body struck by a military-style bullet, it’s shocking,” Massie noted.

Gonzalez and Warren admired the high-schoolers taking the initiative since the massacre in Parkland, Fla., nearly six weeks ago.

“We need to get more young people involved … doing real community projects,” said Gonzalez.

Added Warren, “I support lowering the voting age to 16 because of you.”

The three Democrats are vying for their party’s nomination in the September primary, the winner looking to upset incumbent Republican Gov. Charlie Baker in the Nov. 6 general election.

Baker is the most popular governor in America, with a 66 percent approval rating among Massachusetts residents, many who have limited knowledge or haven’t heard of Baker’s potential opponents, according to a WBUR public radio station poll released Friday.

The Berkshire Central Labor Council and Berkshire Brigades, the official countywide Democratic organization, sponsored the forum that also addressed such issues as economic development and inequality, properly funding broadband networks in Western Massachusetts, the opioid addiction, public education and rising electricity costs.

Jay Gonzalez

Gonzalez says it’s time to remove the “status quo, wait-and-see” governor from office so the state can move forward on paid family leave, $15 minimum wage, better transportation and child care support.

The former secretary of administration and finance under Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick also called for increased funding for broadband — essential for students and the workforce to succeed.

“It’s like running water to have high-speed Internet,” he said.

A law school graduate and former CEO of a health insurance firm, Gonzalez said it’s time to stop treating drug addicts as criminal and give them the treatment they need.

He called for a varied economic strategy in the Berkshires that includes advanced manufacturing and bringing in more young business owners to the county.

The Needham resident opposes natural gas pipeline expansion, favoring less dependency on fossil fuels — a practice he said is good for the environment and creates jobs.

“The clean energy sector is one of the fastest growing in the country,” he said.

Gonzalez wants to spend more on transportation and public education.

Bob Massie

Massie often touted his professional background and personal experience in addressing the issues raised during the candidates forum. The Democratic nominee for Lt.. Governor in 1994 has created or led several organizations dealing with climate change, economic development and advocating for health care, and he’s an ordained Episcopal minister.

Massie wants to invest in a transportation system that works, hold public utilities like Eversource more accountable to their customers and improve access to high-speed Internet.

He claims Baker has failed in all these areas, especially when it comes to renewable energy.

“I simply can’t understand how this governor doesn’t understand it’s good for the planet and the economy,” said the Somerville resident.

Massie says it’s time to rethink public school funding formulas, vocational education and other aspects of public education.

He wants better treatment for drug addicts, not jail time, calling drug companies “massive pushers” of the addiction crisis.

As for creating more jobs, maybe it’s time to think beyond the traditional corporate model.

“We can have worker cooperatives, we can have producer cooperatives,” said Massie.

Setti Warren

Warren, a two-term mayor of Newton, has a public service resume that includes working in the Clinton White House and on John Kerry’s presidential campaign. The Iraq War veteran wants those earning at least $1 million to pay more for public education, transportation and other underfunded services. Warren called for state utility regulators to work more for consumers and the need for more solar power in the commonwealth.

“We should be scaling up [solar] and investing in offshore wind [power,]” he said.

Warren called Chapter 70, the state fund formula for public school districts, “outdated.” He says it’s time to fully fund kindergarten through grade 12, with the state’s highest earners shouldering more of the financial burden.

Among Warren’s top campaign promises is dealing with the deadly opioid crisis, and he expects solutions to be expensive.

“We need more beds,we need additional clinicians. We need lifelong services. This will cost money,” he said.

Warren has found small and medium businesses are key to economic growth, and he expects the fully funded, yet-to-be-built Berkshire Innovative Center to help foster economic growth in the Pittsfield area.

Full Story: Berkshire Eagle

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