Coakley Stresses Commitment to Berkshires
|Gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley greets supporters at the Freight Yard Pub after a day of campaign stops that started in Dorchester. She also met with voters in Great Barrington and Pittsfield.|
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Martha Coakley ended a swing through the state on Saturday by toasting a title she hopes to claim on Nov. 4: Governor Coakley.
The Drury High School graduate vowed she hasn't — and wouldn't — forget her home county to the small group gathered in the courtyard of the Freight Yard Pub.
"I promise you, as your governor, if you help me get elected, and I know we can do this, I will have your back," the Democratic candidate said.
Part of that will be ensuring health care access, Coakley said, including mental and behavioral care.
"Let's make sure that every part of the state, including North Adams, has the primary care and health care you need and deserve."
In North County, most residents believe that means ensuring the former North Adams Regional Hospital reopens in some form.
Coakley noted her office is still investigating the actions of the former health-care system's board of trustees in its closure and the efforts by her office and local and state officials in restoring emergency services.
"It needs to be a full, concentrated effort still to see what else do we need and how do we that," she said. "I will be committed to doing that as governor, as well as working with the your new attorney general, and I believe it will be [Democrat] Maura Healey, who oversees not-for-profits, to make sure we get real access for people out here in the Berkshires."
The Democratic candidate hammered on her campaign platform of educational investment and workforce training, health care access, broadband access, transportation infrastructure, clean energy and development of precision technology to continue to rejuvenate the economy in a sustainable manner, and build on previous efforts by current Gov. Deval Patrick.
"Not just bring in a big-box store and bringing in businesses that take up roots when the economy changes," she said. "Let's build a sustainable economy."
Coakley said she also will continue efforts in sustainable and alternative energy developed by the Patrick administration.
"I've been impressed with what Governor Patrick has done," she said. "Of course, Sen. Benjamin Downing has been a leading voice in moving Massachusetts ahead."
She later added, "We want kind of sustainable, regional economic plan for North Adams, the county, it has to include a clean-energy feature."
What she doesn't support is the current proposal to run a natural gas transmission line through parts of the Berkshires and across the state. The Kinder Morgan Energy project has been heavily opposed by small towns along the route.
"That proposal by Kinder Morgan is not the right proposal for the neighborhoods that they plan to go through," said Coakley.
With less than five weeks to the election, Coakley, the current attorney general, is trying to get some daylight between herself and Republican candidate Charlie Baker. The most recent polls show the two in a dead heat, with Coakley marginally ahead.
Not surprisingly, she has stressed her local connections in a region that's long felt ignored by the heavily populated east end of the state. Born in Lee and raised in North Adams, she also was in the first Williams College class to graduate women who had attended all four years.
Accompanied by her husband, Thomas F. O'Connor Jr., and her two sisters, Anne Gentile and Mary Coakley-Welch (whose husbands also hail from North Adams), Coakley was welcomed by supporters and patrons of the pub, stopping to pose for photographs, talk policy or just greet old friends.
She will also march in the annual Fall Foliage Parade on Sunday afternoon.
"It's heartwarming for me to come home," she said. "I started out my campaign here, we kicked this off here a year ago.
"I said we're not going to get in this race unless we pour our heart and soul into it and we put together a team to help us."
Baker, she said, doesn't have the same level of committment to protecting children from abuse, to keep people from losing their homes or investing in mental and behavioral health care.
"My Republican opponent, if he knows how to get to North Adams, isn't going to come here very often."
Coakley said she won't forget her city or the Berkshires.
"I will make sure that we in Massachusetts, in every corner, from Merrimack Valley to the South Coast to North Adams, we will be prosperous and fair."