Gubernatorial Candidate Kayyem Focuses on Future |
By Andy McKeever On: 01:35PM / Saturday November 16, 2013 ||
Juliette Kayyem talked with the Berkshire Brigades on Wednesday.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Juliette Kayyem doesn't do luck. She does preparedness.
After being called on three times to lend her hand to the government in the wake of tragedy, she is trying to get out in front by running for governor to make sure Massachusetts is prepared for the future.
"We need to solve the problems of today and there are many. But, we need to solve the problems in a way that is sustainable in the future," the Democratic candidate said at a meet and greet on Wednesday with the Berkshire Brigades.
Kayyem's career began as a civil rights attorney before she moved into homeland security. She served on the National Commission on Terrorism and later was appointed by Gov. Deval Patrick as the state's first undersecretary for Homeland Security, leading the state's push for security planning.
She moved back to the federal level as President Barack Obama's appointment for assistant secretary for intergovernmental affairs. There, she coordinated responses to major tragedies such as the BP oil spill and the H1N1 flu outbreak while also planning on issues such as immigration.
"Two presidents and a governor have asked me to make government work when it matters the most but it matters most all of the time and that's the way I would think of it as governor," said Kayyem, who also adds lecturer at Harvard, former Boston Globe columnist and mother of three to her resume.
Kayyem said her task in those roles was not just focused on terrorism but all of the factors that contribute to safety and security — such as gun control or climate change.
"I know people hear homeland security and they think terrorism. But, it is not that. Homeland security is as much about the homeland as it is security," she said.
Her views on climate change is one example of how she would prepare the state for the future. While Kayyem believes the state should reduce carbon emissions, she also believes it should build infrastructure to reduce the effects. She said it was only a few miles and low tides that kept the state from being significantly impacted by last year's Hurricane Sandy. Since the state can't solve the problem alone, Massachusetts needs to be prepared for the changes.
Another way the state needs to prepare is economically, because she doesn't believe the state's revenue projects are correct — particularly with the amount expected from the tech tax that was repealed and income from casinos. Nor does she believes the current tax system will provide the needed revenue for the future.
"We're not sure what we can expect from that," Kayyem said. "It is the obligation of the next governor, you need to figure out what does the budget look like and what is realistic and unrealistic sources of revenue."
She is calling for a complete overhaul of the tax system, reforming the criminal justice system, and finding where to reduce expenses.
Kayyem's career has been focused on public safety but she wants to do more for the people of Massachusetts.
"I think we're going to have to start talking about a new tax system that is fair for everyone and gives the state a source of revenue not just for today but in the future," she said.
And as with other democrats, she is calling for investment in infrastructure and education — saying those are ways the state can best prepare for the future.
She said the state shouldn't be backing down from economic competition with other states or countries but push to make the state the best.
"All of us on the Democratic side are going to talk to you about jobs, education and infrastructure. And that's good. I'm going to talk about raising the minimum wage and that's right. And paid sick leave and that's right. That's the bare minimum. What we need to prepare for is a stronger, resilient state in the future," Kayyem said.
Kayyem said the state needs to have a vision of what it wants to be in the future and set a path to together. There are jobs in transportation, life sciences, technology and biotechnology, she said, and government needs to cut through the minutiae to get to the solutions. Government can't just look for a quick solution, she said.
"One of the good things about being a new politician is you can see the challenges of politics," she said.
For example, Kayyem said while officials debate charter schools, they should instead be discussion how the children are currently learning and how the state can prepare them for those future jobs.
Kayyem says the government's job is to be progressive and work for everybody in the state.
"Government has the capacity to do good for people every and also that government can always do better. There is no finish line," she said. "Government's job is to open doors and make sure everyone belongs."
Kayyem joined the race for governor in August and is vying for the Democratic nomination along with Martha Coakley, Joseph Avellone, Donald Berwick and Steven Grossman. Also seeking the corner office is independent candidate Evan Falchuk and Republican Charles Baker.
Kayyem says she brings a "new kind of leadership," which sets her apart from the other candidates.
"I represent a new kind of leadership, a new generation that we saw represented in Boston race, where people like me, who have different skills — I know government but maybe politics is new to me — can actually provide a vision and a way of moving forward that is different and something people want to hear," she said.
More information at www.juliettekayyem.com.
Coakley, Back in Berkshires, Says Economy Priority |
By Andy McKeever On: 10:00PM / Wednesday October 16, 2013 ||
Gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley met with the Berkshire Brigades on Wednesday afternoon in her second trip to the Berkshires since announcing her candidacy.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Martha Coakley returned to the Berkshires on Wednesday and spoke to potential supporters about why she believes she is the best candidate for the governor's office.
The attorney general announced last month that she would be seeking election in 2014. This is her second visit to the Berkshires since announcing; she was to receive the Northern Berkshire Business and Professional Women's Woman of Achievement Award in the evening.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Berkshire native met with members of the Berkshire Brigades to ask for support and answer questions about her candidacy.
"I'm asking people to look at my record, what my vision is and what we've be able to do in terms of promoting a healthy economy in the attorney general's office, tackling problems, getting results and working for people in Massachusetts," Coakley said.
The campaign is still relatively green: Her staff is still recruiting volunteers and setting up office space. But, she has been meeting with active Democratic groups and "just walking into diners and meeting people."
"It's been a busy four weeks and I've gotten a great reaction from people who feel optimistic that the economy is getting a little better but they understand that we still need more work around it," Coakley said. "I think a lot of people feel it is time for a good woman in the office and I think people have been impressed with what we've been able to do in the attorney general's office."
Coakley says what she's heard from voters is that the economy is of most concern. She said people are working "twice as hard to be where they used to be" and the opportunities are not there.
"People want to move here and stay here so when we keep our health care costs down, our energy costs down, we will be successful in making this economy turn around and make sure it is for everybody," she said.
She says the economy can turn around and she has already worked with high levels of government on promoting economic activity. Coakley said the state level of government needs to work together for the people of Massachusetts.
Coakley says she's been meeting with people around the state to hear their concerns.
"Policies are great, implementation is great but there is a reason we have government — because we want it to be there for everybody," she said. "We work to solve problems and the next governor of this state needs to make sure we continue that economic turnaround for everybody."
Part of turning the economy around is having a good education system, she said.
Coakley says she supports longer school days and years and bringing together nonprofits and businesses to create job training programs for those who need new or different skills to return to the workforce.
"I know that we have wonderful system where we let the kids out just in time for the spring planting and we bring them back after the fall harvest. But, it is 2013 and our kids need to compete in the global marketplace," Coakley said. "I believe we need longer school days. We need better education for everyone and we need to look at how the school year is structured."
Coakley also lent her support to the Raise Up campaign of which the Berkshire Brigades are part. That campaign is gathering signatures to place questions on the ballot of raising the minimum wage and requiring all workers be given earned sick time.
"I support both of these. To me, those are no brainers," she said, adding that everybody can agree that a worker cannot live on the current minimum wage.
Coakley is the third Democratic candidate to meet with local voters in the past week: Dr. Donald Berwick and Steven Grossman, state treasurer, were here last week. Also, third-party candidate Evan Falchuk was at the Fall Foliage Parade.
Gubernatorial Candidate Berwick Meets With Voters |
By Andy McKeever On: 07:24PM / Friday October 11, 2013 ||
Berwick, at the head of the table, talks with residents at Bagels Too on Friday.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Dr. Donald Berwick says the state did a great thing by recognizing that health care is a "human right" but the system is broken.
The doctor says he is the one with the remedy.
Berwick, who boasts being responsible for implementing 70 percent of the federal Affordable Care Act on the national level, is running to be the Democratic nominee for governor.
On Friday, he visited with voters at Bagels Too. After recapping his background as a medical doctor to starting his own nonprofit to being a presidential recess appointee as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Berwick told potential supportors that he can lead health care reform — not just health insurance reform.
"We said health care is a human right but we have a health system that is broken," Berwick said. "It isn't designed to have the patient at the center and therefore it is more costly and it lets us down... We need health-care reform, not just health insurance reform."
Health care is very expensive in Massachusetts because of the way the system is designed, he said.
"Hospitals are trained to keep the beds full and specialist are to keep busy," he said, but it doesn't have to be that way. Berwick says redesigning the system to have patient care drive the industry — rather than pay for service — would lower costs overall.
However, that is not going to be easy because of the long-standing procedures the system has operated on and disputes within the Legislature. With his industry background, Berwick say he can "lean on the health care world" and tell them that "it is a new game."
Meanwhile, the state needs to continue improving the infrastructure, transportation and education system, he said, and reducing poverty.
"My interest in improvement is the mainstay. I've worked in large systems and small all over the world trying to make complicated things better — things like health care but also education and transportation," Berwick said. "The same principals will apply to the things this community cares about. I feel I have the skills and the knowledge to do that."
Donald Berwick spoke at the meet and greet and outlined his believes on health care reform.
Those who met him on Friday told him that transportation, environment and high-speed Internet along with health care were of concerns in the Berkshires. But what really took Berwick back was the level of pride he felt from those out here.
"There is a pride in the community here that is really quite moving. It is not that people are proud elsewhere but out here it seems that these communities know they are in this together and there is a sense of we and not just me," he said.
Berwick is one of the lesser-known names in the race for governor next year. He says Democrats Martha Coakley, current attorney general, and Treasurer Steven Grossman have much more notoriety because of their political histories. So he is focused on running a campaign that will get his name out there.
"It's a grass-roots campaign and I need to be all over the state and talk to all of the stakeholders who really care. We try to be in as many communities as we can," Berwick said. "I'm not from inside. I am coming in with experience and knowledge and contacts that come when you work in the greater community — in my case all over the world."
And he says the effort has been going "really, really well" and he has been getting good responses from thos he meets. Friday was his second trip during the campaign t
o the Berkshires. He filmed a television show with the Berkshire Brigades prior to holding the meet and greet at Bagels Too.
The Democratic field currently consists of Berwick, Grossman
, Coakley, Joseph Avellone
and Juliette Kayyem. Independent Evan Falchuk
and Republican Charles Barker Jr. are also running for the seat. All but Kayyem and Barker have so far visited the Berkshires.
Grossman Talks Manufacturing, Minimum Wage |
By Andy McKeever On: 11:50PM / Wednesday October 09, 2013 ||
Grossman spoke at the Berkshire Brigades office on Wednesday after filming a television show with the Democratic group.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Manufacturing is in the state's DNA so there is no reason why it can't continue to drive the economy, according to Treasurer and gubernatorial candidate Steven Grossman.
Grossman had an informal meeting with the Berkshire Brigades on Wednesday after filming a television show earlier in the day.
To the relatively small audience, Grossman pledged his support for the Brigades' efforts to place questions on raising the minimum wage and earned sick time on the ballot in 2014 while at the same time, asking for their support in his campaign for governor.
Grossman began a short talking portion by saying that requiring all workers be given earned sick time in case of illness is "long overdue."
The earned sick time question is one of two the coalition Raise Up, of which the Berkshire Brigades are a part, is trying to get on the ballot.
Grossman said, in the 35 years he ran his family's business, providing extra benefits made for better workers.
"You empower workers by providing benefits," Grossman said. "Earned sick time is one of the benefits people are provided in our company for 25 years and when people say to me 'I can't afford to do that and I won't support you as a small-business owner,' I say, 'you can't afford not to do it."
He said the family paper company has not gone to arbitration since the workers unionized in 1952 and that's because the owners provide those extra benefits and, in return, received better work.
"For me, fundamentally, the relationship between those who own companies and those who run companies is a symbiotic relationship. They fit together," Grossman said. "You can have a nice looking suit on and a nice looking car but if you walk into your place of business if you don't treat those who work in your company with grace and dignity, particularly when you are sitting across the table from them in a union negotiation, then they are not empowered. If you empower your workers, they give you flexibility, increased productivity."
Raise Up is also seeking an ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage, which Grossman says he supports because at $8 an hour currently, it isn't possible for a worker to be "self sufficient."
Besides giving a short speech, the treasurer spoke one-on-one with everyone who attended.
Meanwhile, Grossman is working to get his name on the ballot as well. As he harkened back to his business days to support those initiatives, he did the same Wednesday to explain why he is running for governor.
"I am running for a very simple reason. I believe the people in this commonwealth want a proven leader that will leave no one behind," he said.
As a businessman, he spoke with small businesses across the state about the "roadblocks" in the way of growth. He heard about the cost of health insurance and the need for technical assistance but even more importantly was the need for access to capital.
When he was elected treasurer he started the Small Business Banking Partnership, which took some of the state's reserves from overseas banks and transferred them into loans to businesses. Grossman said Starbase Technology, a Pittsfield molding company, was able to secure a loan through that fund and purchased three new pieces of equipment and added 17 jobs.
Across the state, Grossman says more than $308 million has been loaned to community banks specifically for local businesses while those loans are now worth more than $570 million.
He added that advanced manufacturing, life sciences and green technology jobs are high paying and are an opportunity for growth.
Grossman said he wants to continue to invest in education and rid the state of the waiting lists for early education programs and put more money into vocational programs. Locally, Grossman, who as treasurer is chairman of the Massachusetts School Building Authority, said he is fully supportive of building a new Taconic High School.
"That is the key to our economic future," he said. "There is no reason why manufacturing, which is in the bones, the DNA of this commonwealth for decades, generations — think Pittsfield, think Greenfield, think North Adams, think Chicopee, think Holyoke, think Fall River, think New Bedford — advanced and precision manufacturing. I've set a goal to create 50,000 new manufacturing jobs in this commonwealth in five years."
Overall, Grossman is hoping to pass on the values that were passed onto him. Grossman said his grandfather once told him that he only wanted four things in life — a healthy family, educated children, to own his own business and to give back to the community. And those four things are what Grossman said he wants all residents to have a chance to do.
Independent Candidate For Governor Campaigns In North Adams |
By Andy McKeever On: 11:48PM / Monday October 07, 2013 ||
Evan Falchuk shaking hands with voters as he marched in the Fall Foliage Parade in North Adams on Sunday.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Evan Falchuk has been keeping his boots on the ground in his campaign for governor.
On Sunday, that took him to the Fall Foliage Parade to meet Berkshire County voters.
Falchuk is heading an independent campaign as he looks to change state politics
by ending partisan fights. The party he formed, United Independent, aims to build more consensus on issues instead of political bickering.
"The level of interest out there for an independent movement and independent party that I've created is really, really strong," Falchuk said. "People are really eager to see there be an organized way to bring practical, rational, reasonable dialogue to the political process."
Falchuk marched in the parade, weaving his way from side to side shaking hands and meeting voters. He isn't spending his time worrying about primaries or gaining the support of party officials, but he is running a statewide campaign.
"I'm working seven days a week. Every weekend I am out in the cities and towns across the state," he said. "They go to activist meetings, the town party committees... As an independent I am running a statewide campaign with my team, all across the state and meeting people who are not political activists."
What he has been hearing is that the government is not doing what the people want.
"You hear it over and over again. You hear 'I'm dissatisfied with the process,'" he said. "People have, unfortunately, lost a lot of confidence and faith in state government and the reason is that the priorities that the elected leaders are pursuing is not matching up with what they feel are priorities."
In North Adams, the adage of politics being run out of Boston without a care for Berkshire County was what Falchuk heard. But, he said that is what he hears everywhere.
"I met a lot of voters who were surprised that a person from the eastern part of the state would come to North Adams," he said but added that happens everywhere and, "you hear that enough times and you start to think maybe no one is listening to begin with. It's not you. It's them."
Falchuk believes too often politicians vote for or against something based on if it helps their party at a particular time and not by what is good for the state as a whole. He wants to lead a change in politics by addressing issues at the core level with open and honest discussion.
For example, Falchuk says the state officials need to get together and look through the state budget line by line and reallocate any misused funds in a way that everyone can agree will address problems.
He wants to see more investment in small to medium-sized businesses by creating programs to help entrepreneurs take the next step, change policies that encourage large factory-type businesses and instead put the priorities into the small and medium sized ones.
He wants to lower the corporate tax rate, energy and health care costs to spur additional economic growth. He wants more job training so that the citizens can get those higher paying jobs and he hopes to break what he sees as nearly a monopoly in the health care system to lower costs there.
"With the rates where they are, we put ourselves at a competitive disadvantage," Falchuk said of the corporate rates. "But it is not about just cut taxes, it is about saying what is the right mix of things we can do to spur job growth... we need to pay for the government we say we want."
Falchuk outside of the iBerkshires office after an interview.
With all of those goals, Falchuk isn't setting forth particular policies. He wants those policies to come from consensus building.
"As country, we get stuck. Somebody proposes something and it immediately gets politicized. 'Oh, you want that, well I don't know care if it is a good idea or not, the fact that you want it, I am against it.' That's how you get stuck," Falchuk said.
The state's Tax Fairness Commission, which is taking a look at state tax policy, is an example of what Falchuk wants to see on all issues. That commission is looking at the entire tax code and will present findings to overhaul the entire system.
He knows that isn't easy to make such fundamental changes in politics, but it starts from the top down, he said. His election would symbolize a new era, he said, because by getting 3 percent of the vote, United Independent will be recognized as an official party and those who feel the way he does has an opportunity to run in elections across the state.
"This is something much bigger than one candidate in one election," he said. "I think people will look back on 2013, 2014 in American history and see it as something of a turning point in our politics."
He is running against two political parties with long histories of connections to voters and to donors. Falchuk has hired a finance director for fundraising and is focused on meeting voters outside of those networks in hopes to get the 53 percent of independent voters in the state on his side instead of being swing voters.
"We're going to have enough money to compete in the general election," Falchuk said of the fundraising efforts.
He later said, "if this were easy, I'm sure there would be a lot of people doing it. I'm up against the party machines who have a long history of saying this is how things are to be done. What we have is that most voters want to see our politics move in this direction."
He pointed to the federal government shutdown not as a matter of which party is responsible but rather a lack of leadership.
"I really don't understand the level of leadership being shown. It is not responsible," Falchuk said. "It is their job to make this stuff work. They have one job, to fund the government and they can't do it."
Falchuk has two more visits to Berkshire County scheduled in the coming month. Meanwhile, six candidates have entered the field for Democrats while one Republic is in the race.
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North Adams: Candidate forums are being broadcast live by WNAW at 8:30 a.m. daily Oct. 28 to Nov. 1 except Wednesday, when mayoral candidates Richard Alcombright, the incumbent, and challenger Robet Moulton debate live from 9 to 10.
Meet the candidates at the Elks Lodge breakfast on Sunday, Nov. 3.
Below are the webcasts of the North Adams forums:
- Oct 25 Council Candidate Forum 3
- Oct 25 Council Candidate Forum 2
- Oct 25 Council Candidate Forum 1
- Oct 23 Mayoral Debate
- Oct 18 Candidates Forum
The cities of Pittsfield and North Adams will hold municipal elections for mayor, city council and school committee on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
You may vote absentee: if you will be absent from your town or city on election day, have a physical disability that prevents you from voting at the polls or cannot vote at the polls because to religious beliefs.
Absentee ballots are available at city clerk offices until noon on Nov. 4.
Voter registration: The deadline to register or change in voter information for the November election is Wednesday, Oct. 16.
The North Adams city clerk's office will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Oct. 16.
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