The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is entering into primary season in the race for Governor. Before voters hit the polls next year, a couple of the candidates made a stop in a small town on the South Coast. Dighton Middle School was the site of a Gubernatorial Candidate Forum sponsored by the Dighton Democratic Town Committee. Candidates Jay Gonzalez and Mayor Setti Warren both appeared to speak about their goals and answer questions from potential constituents. Not all candidates were present, as Robert Massie had a conflicting event and incumbent Gov. Charlie Baker has yet to announce his intent to seek reelection.
Many excited voters and local officials filed into the school auditorium to be greeted by Democratic candidates Jay Gonzalez of Needham and Setti Warren of Newton. Mr. Gonzalez is hoping to move his career from private and public administration into a high-level leadership position. After years of experience in the private sector, he was recruited by former Gov. Deval Patrick as Secretary of Administration and Finance during the 2008 Financial Crisis. Mr. Gonzalez also served as Chairman of the Board of Massachusetts Health Connector and Massachusetts Board of Early Education and Care. Mayor Warren is on his second term leading the City of Newton, where he has lived for most of his life. Before entering public service, he served in the U.S. Navy for nine years and is a veteran of the Iraq War. Mayor Warren also worked for both John Kerry’s Senate office and Bill Clinton’s White House administration.
Both candidates explained their reasons for running, their political experience, and their vision for the future of Massachusetts. In his opening statement, Mayor Setti Warren stressed the importance of helpful social programs and equality among all citizens. He spoke of the lessons he has learned from his family and his military service that have translated into effective tools while leading the City of Newton. Jay Gonzalez urged that it is Massachusetts’ role to be a leader, not just for the country, but for the world. He wants to see changes and improvements education, infrastructure, and health care to keep the state moving forward.
After introductions and statements from both Democratic candidates, forum questions were posed to give voters a better idea of the positions and agendas of the two gubernatorial hopefuls. The questions ranged from the proposed Safe Communities Act to renewable energy to health care. Health care proved to be the main focus of both Mayor Warren and Mr. Gonzalez, as many answers led to the need for better access and promotion to health services. When asked about the privatization of mental health services, Jay Gonzalez aligned the growing mental health issue with the drug addiction crisis here in Massachusetts. These closely related problems can be tackled with an improved insurance system for the Commonwealth and a better supply of appropriate services. On the same question, Mayor Warren was the first to bring up introducing a “single payer system” to the state that will cut costs without cutting coverage. The candidates both understand that choosing the cheapest option in the short term will sometimes have negative consequences in the long term.
Both Warren and Gonzalez mentioned their expertise with public finances and their track record of success in their respective administrations. Mayor Warren cited Newton’s $40 million deficit when he was first elected mayor. During his two terms, the city was able to erase the deficit and grow a cash reserve that the municipality needed for years. Jay Gonzalez used his direct budgetary experience under former Gov. Deval Patrick to prove his financial knowledge. Throughout his three years in the cabinet, Gonzalez oversaw many important public projects during tough economic times. Mismanagement during that time could have easily impacted the state and its citizens.
Jay Gonzalez and Setti Warren both appeared focused and collected throughout the forum. It is clear that their years in public service have prepared them for the requirements and workload of being governor. All responses from both candidates were off the cuff and they didn’t have any written prepared statements. As for team presence, Mayor Warren had the upper hand. His team set up posters and sign-up sheets long before the scheduled start time. What Mr. Gonzalez lacked in signage, he made up for in personal presence. Before the event, Mr. Gonzalez was seen meeting and speaking to many attendees. I was fortunate enough to be one of those that had the chance to talk with the potential Governor of Massachusetts. It wasn’t the usual “vote for me” stuff, but it also didn’t feel like pointless banter.
It’s a long road to the November 2018 election to decide the gubernatorial race. Along with Mayor Setti Warren and Jay Gonzalez, Robert Massie rounds out the declared Democratic candidates. Again, Gov. Charlie Baker, whom was repeatedly mentioned and criticized during the Dighton forum, has yet to announce his intention to seek reelection. The polls are close and there will be plenty of campaigning until the primaries this upcoming spring. Below you can find more information on the election, candidates, and how you can join a campaign.
Written By: CJ Wilcox (@CJWilcox7)
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