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Massachusetts Democratic Candidates For Governor Talk Policy In Pittsfield

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Josh Landes
/
State Senator Adam Hinds moderates a forum for Democratic candidates for governor in the American Legion hall of Pittsfield, MA.

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.

Hear the full forum here:

full_pittsfield_demo_gov_forum_3-25-18_test.mp3

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