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Gubernatorial candidates speak to need to invest in education, clean energy

  • Candidates for the Democratic nomination for Massachusetts Governor, from left, Setti Warren, Bob Massie, and Jay Gonzalez, participate in a public forum at Greenfield Middle School on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Candidates for the Democratic nomination for Massachusetts Governor, from left, Setti Warren, Bob Massie, and Jay Gonzalez, participate in a public forum at Greenfield Middle School on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Newton Mayor Setti Warren gives an opening statement during a public forum for candidates of the Democratic nomination for Massachusetts Governor, including Bob Massie, and Jay Gonzalez, at Greenfield Middle School on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Newton Mayor Setti Warren gives an opening statement during a public forum for candidates of the Democratic nomination for Massachusetts Governor, including Bob Massie, and Jay Gonzalez, at Greenfield Middle School on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Bob Massie gives an opening statement during a public forum for candidates of the Democratic nomination for Massachusetts Governor, including Setti Warren, and Jay Gonzalez, at Greenfield Middle School on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Jay Gonzalez gives an opening statement during a public forum for candidates of the Democratic nomination for Massachusetts Governor, including Bob Massie, and Setti Warren, at Greenfield Middle School on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • A public forum for candidates for the Democratic nomination for Massachusetts Governor— Setti Warren, Bob Massie, and Jay Gonzalez— was held at Greenfield Middle School on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • State Representative Paul Mark introduces candidates for the Democratic nomination for Massachusetts Governor— Setti Warren, Bob Massie, and Jay Gonzalez— during a public forum at Greenfield Middle School on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Jay Gonzalez gives an opening statement during a public forum for candidates of the Democratic nomination for Massachusetts Governor, including Bob Massie, and Setti Warren, at Greenfield Middle School on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Newton Mayor Setti Warren gives an opening statement during a public forum for candidates of the Democratic nomination for Massachusetts Governor, including Bob Massie, and Jay Gonzalez, at Greenfield Middle School on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Newton Mayor Setti Warren gives an opening statement during a public forum for candidates of the Democratic nomination for Massachusetts Governor, including Bob Massie, and Jay Gonzalez, at Greenfield Middle School on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE



Recorder Staff
Sunday, January 07, 2018

GREENFIELD — Three Democratic gubernatorial candidates introduced themselves to the Franklin County community this past weekend, answering a series of questions about their positions on education spending, clean energy and other hot button issues.

While Jay Gonzalez, Setti Warren and Bob Massie had similar platforms, only one will become the Democratic nominee running against incumbent Gov. Charlie Baker. The two-hour forum Saturday, which was organized by Franklin County Continuing the Political Revolution, attracted around 250 people interested in learning about each candidate’s background and values.

Education spending

Both Gonzalez and Warren said the school reimbursement formula needs to change, with Gonzalez advocating to fully fund the Chapter 70 program. Massie, a former teacher at the University of Cape Town in South Africa and at Harvard Divinity School, decried how the state burdens schools with inflating transportation costs.

When asked about their support for charter schools, Massie said charter schools are the bane of the education system, stealing money from public schools.

“I absolutely think we should be telling the (Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner) to not be accepting any more charter schools,” Gonzalez agreed. “We should not be creating a competitive system. … We need the public schools that exist to have the resources they need to make every child successful.”

Warren advised moving away from high stakes testing. Though Gonzalez said there needs to be a mechanism to measure teaching and student learning, he worries too much focus on testing detracts from other skills children must learn.

Warren, an advocate for free public colleges as well as paid internships, spoke to a need for adequate buildings and manageable class sizes. As mayor of Newton for eight years, Warren recounted how he invested in infrastructure — including schools, sidewalks and fire stations — while eliminating a $40 million structural deficit and growing a $20 million “rainy day” reserve fund.

Health care

When speaking to the issue of rising health care costs, Massie, who was born with hemophilia, recounted how he lost his ability to walk at 4. Only after moving to France could he access the expensive medical products he needed to walk again. As such, he argued his commitment to affordable health care is one that “has been bred into my bones,” recommending that insurance companies be pressured to help solve the problem of spiked costs.

Both Warren and Gonzalez said they seek a single-payer system. Warren believes savings lie in administrative and prescription costs. Meanwhile, Gonzalez, former Massachusetts Health Connector board chairman, believes he’s the state’s best shot at implementing a single-payer system.

“I know all the different players in our system, and I can tell you every second I spent working in our health care system, the more discouraged I got,” Gonzalez said. “I believe I bring the experience and background to get us to a single payer system as quickly and as thoughtfully as we can.”

Clean energy

Both Warren and Gonzalez support using 100 percent renewable energy by 2050, if not sooner, with Warren saying he’s proud to have cut Newton’s carbon footprint in half during his time as mayor. The two believe renewable energy answers another problem by providing new jobs.

“We can create green jobs if we invest in offshore wind, if we invest in renewable energy and technologies,” Warren said.

Gonzalez believes “we should fight vociferously against offshore drilling.”

As executive director of Ceres, Massie built the sustainability nonprofit into the largest coalition of investor and environmental groups in the United States. He advocated during Saturday’s forum to eliminate caps on solar energy and increase Massachusetts’ commitment to wind energy.

Criminal justice

Both Warren and Gonzalez spoke to a need to invest in programming for inmates that would allow them to be successful upon release.

“We need to make sure that people are getting ready for re-entry (when they’re) inside of jails,” Warren said, suggesting inmates be connected with not just a parole office, but someone to help them secure jobs, housing and transportation.

The current criminal justice system, Massie said, makes it “virtually certain” that inmates will re-offend upon release. Gonzalez said it’s necessary to address the underlying causes of crime by ensuring people have access to addiction treatment, mental health care, jobs and education.

“We’re jailing way too many for way too long,” Gonzalez added.

Infrastructure

Investing in infrastructure, Massie believes, will halt the departure of young adults and businesses from western Massachusetts. He wants to speed up the Last Mile (broadband) Infrastructure Grant program and create more municipally-controlled internet companies, with Warren and Gonzalez agreeing on the importance of investing in broadband.

Ensuring access to transportation was a shared topic of importance.

“We also need to do the basics — fixing the roads and bridges,” said Gonzalez, who allocated funding for the Municipal Small Bridge Program as former Gov. Deval Patrick’s secretary of administration and finance.

Addressing inequities

When asked how to address economic inequality, Warren spoke of a need to invest in education, including summer and after-school enrichment and early childhood learning.

Many of the state’s problems can be thought of as interconnected, Massie said. Improving child and maternal health would improve performance in school, which in turn would improve a child’s chances of success in a job.

“We cannot be free as a people unless each of us has access to four building blocks,” Massie said, those being a good home, a job, a doctor and school. He supports a $15 minimum wage and making it easier for everyone to buy a house, own a small business and build equity.

Massie addressed the importance of gender pay equity, and supporting co-ops and land trusts. He said he supports the future of Massachusetts farming through local contracts and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs.

He went on to denounce businesses who use part-time employees or subcontractors to avoid paying benefits, and proposed having portable benefits “so people don’t have to hold onto jobs that they hate” to make ends meet.

All three candidates emphasized their support for unions.

“Over 40 or 50 years, the dismantling of unions has been a driver for the growth of economic inequality in this country,” Warren added.

Massie and Warren also stated their support for the Baystate Franklin Medical Center nurses, who Massie said are fighting for patients’ safety. Gonzalez said he walked the picket line with nurses striking at Tufts Medical Center in Boston.

“If I’m governor, I’m going to be standing with those nurses, and we’re going to figure out how to protect them,” Warren proclaimed.