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Andrea Campbell campaigns for Massachusetts Attorney General

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Democrat Andrea Campbell launched her campaign for Massachusetts Attorney General in Boston on February 2, 2022

The Democrat is a former Boston City Councilor who ran unsuccessfully for mayor last year

Andrea Campbell, who made history as the first Black woman to serve as president of the Boston City Council, is running for Massachusetts Attorney General.

She is one of three people seeking the Democratic nomination.

The incumbent, Democrat Maura Healey is running for governor.

The other Democrats seeking the nomination are labor attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan and Quentin Palfrey, who was the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor in 2018. Republican Jay McMahon is also running.

WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill spoke with Campbell.

Andrea Campbell

I've been out on the trail connecting with residents all across the state, listening to them. And I, one, recognize that many residents are struggling right now and feel very frustrated with government. But I've been reminding them that we live in the best state in the nation. And I know that because I've lived it, my childhood was filled with incredible instability. And my mom actually died when I was eight months old, going to visit my father who was incarcerated. My father and my brothers cycled in the prison system. And my twin brother died 10 years ago while in the custody of the Department of Corrections. And so I've dedicated my entire life to make sure that residents in this state have access to the same opportunities I had growing up here. And that wouldn't change as Attorney General. You know, I've done the work representing children in education cases, I've worked with Governor Deval Patrick, as an attorney. I've been a local elected official. And now I want to take these skill sets to that office to ensure that every family has access to opportunity to a living wagec to health carec to a safe and healthy community.

Paul Tuthill 

Specifically, what are some of the key issues in your platform?

Andrea Campbell

One, it draws on looking at my own lived experience, you know, what, what did I have allowed me through very tragic circumstances to become the first in my family to go to college, to become the first in my family to go to law school. And what I had was opportunity. I had a good education, I had a safe community, I had a healthy community, I had access to resources, where I'm now a first time homeowner in Mattapan. And of course, looking to make sure that the next generation does better than the last. And the Attorney General's Office has every tool, every resource, and of course, the talent to make sure that every family has access to health care, and affordable health care in their community has access to a living wage, if they went to work that they actually get paid those wages they're entitled to. It has the tools to make sure that all of our children have access from excellent education, that all of our children have access, of course, to communities that are safe, and communities that are resilient and prepared for the next climate event. Of course, it is the chief law enforcement officer to ensure all of our laws are implemented fairly and equitably. But really stressing to folks that it's more than just chief law enforcement. It has the ability to do so much more to ensure that a family has everything they need to be able to thrive.

Paul Tuthill 

As a candidate for mayor of Boston last year, you advocated for criminal justice reforms, including eliminating cash bail, eliminating mandatory minimum sentences. Are those issues that you would again lobby for if you become Attorney General?

Andrea Campbell

So I firmly believe that our system right now our criminal legal system, still is very flawed. Whether you are a person of color or a low income resident living in the state, it's really difficult still, to get some sense of justice through our legal system. The racial disparities that we continue to see are real. I talked about my twin brother Andre dying while in the custody of the Department of Correction 10 years ago, as living as someone who knows that these racial inequities affect all of us, in many ways, frankly, whether it's our family members, a neighbor, or a loved one. And so for me pushing for reforms that we know actually reduce those disparities, and ensure that folks who make a mistake, have an opportunity to, to reenter society with the tools they need is important. And of course, it saves taxpayer dollars. It is about justice and accountability. So we continue that work as Attorney General working across the state with various stakeholders, including public defenders, district attorneys, to push for reforms to improve that system and eradicate disparities that still exists.

Paul Tuthill 

So just to be clear, you'd like to eliminate cash bail, is that is that something that you favor?

Andrea Campbell

That's something I've been supportive of, because one we know based on data, that it is the poorest residents versus the richest, that are suffer as a result, there are major inequities when a cash bail system exists. And if you have more money, you are more likely to be treated with a with some type of privilege or greater access to your freedom than if you are poor. And so for me, it's looking at these disparities that affect people of color as well as low income residents. And I'll just stress that when my twin brother died in the system, in the Department of Corrections custody, he was a pretrial detainee waiting to go to trial,never been convicted of anything. And that was because of a high cash bail system that continues, of course, to create barriers to justice, and to the constitutional rights that folks should be afforded.

Paul Tuthill 

Since you've mentioned this a couple of times now, can you can you expand on that since I assume most people don't know the story of what happened with your brother, can you can you can you tell us please?

Andrea Campbell

So, he was waiting to go to trial for two years and had a disease called scleroderma. He had been doing really well before he got arrested and sat in custody waiting to go to trial for a long period of time and did not receive adequate health care. On the first six months that he was waiting to go to trial, he lost 60 pounds. After that he continued to deteriorate. I remember his doctor at the time stressing too many folks that if this kid did not get the services that he was entitled to in terms of health care, he would die. And that's exactly what happened. And so I've lived my life really pushing for every family not only to have access to the same opportunities I had, so they don't end up in the system, but also for folks to receive the rights and benefits and privileges they are entitled to when going through a legal system in particular.

Paul Tuthill 

Would pursuing and prosecuting political corruption cases be a be a priority for you? Or would you leave it to the US attorney as the current attorney general has often done?

Andrea Campbell

I firmly believe no one is above the law. Whether you're a public official, you work in the municipality, whatever it is, I think us as public servants, elected leaders have to be held to a high standard. And that should be the expectation. And so if there is some wrongdoing, the Attorney General's Office has tremendous tools to the Criminal Bureau and other bureaus to address those issues. And I think she'd be bold and courageous on those things. Of course, working in partnership with district attorney's, the US Attorney's Office, where appropriate, given their jurisdiction, and their their particular initiatives to work. I think it's critically important. But the AG’s office has a critical role to play as well, and I think shouldn't shy away from taking on cases where corruption exists.

Paul Tuthill 

The Attorney General's Office has about 500 employees. Do you have the experience to oversee and manage such a large state workforce?

Andrea Campbell

Yes. And I come with skillsets that are unique from the other candidates in this race. One is I stress my lived experience, because I recognize that many residents in Massachusetts are struggling. And I'm the only candidate in this race that has lived many of those struggles, and can relate to many of the struggles that residents are experiencing. And I've used my professional career, whether that is as an attorney for Governor Deval Patrick, as an attorney representing children, which no attorney general ever has ever done in education cases, or as a general counsel at a regional planning agency that covered 101 municipalities in the Commonwealth, pushing for other families to have access to all that I had growing up in this state. So they too, could reach their full potential and thrive. I also firmly believe in surrounding myself with folks who are just as talented who are leaders in their own right. And my skill set my strengths would absolutely be complemented by the folks I hire, including some folks, of course, who already work in an office who are doing remarkable work, and has and will continue to, I will say, to leas various bureaus and division.

Paul Tuthill 

I assume you're familiar with the with the health and safety concerns that have been raised about the Roderick Ireland courthouse here in Springfield. As Attorney General, would you be comfortable having members of your staff inside that building?

Andrea Campbell

This is something I still have to get more familiar with. I've heard different concerns about it from folks who are currently in the AG’s office as well as folks, of course in the community, and of course, would work with the staff at the AG’s office to address it.

Paul Tuthill 

Finally, a political question. The caucus season has just ended in Massachusetts, how do you how do you think you did? Do you? Did you do you believe you've secured enough support to to win the endorsement at the at the convention in June?

Andrea Campbell

I'm not taking anyone or anything for granted. We have to get 15% of the delegates and I'm going to work hard to get just that. I participated, as you can imagine, in a lot of caucuses now I'm following up to connect with delegates to earn their support in this race. And so far, we feel the momentum and we want to continue it. I have over 90 elected officials representing every single county in Massachusetts supporting my candidacy for attorney general. I have Senator Markey as well, who's also supportive of me in this race. And they're supporting me along with a whole host of delegates and community activists, because they want to believe that an elected official should have the lived experience that their constituents have and are addressing and will address of course issues that their constituents are struggling with. But in addition to that, they align with my broad vision of what the AG’s office can do to help the average person and my unique qualifications for this particular job in this moment in time, so I'm going to continue to get out there work hard crisscrossing the state during the support of every resident and of course the delegates as well.