Healey pledges Berkshire’s investment during gubernatorial campaign – iBerkshires.com | Candle Made Easy


The Democratic nominee was greeted by a crowd of supporters at 413 Bistro on Main Street.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. – Maura Healey promised to be a governor who will attend to the needs of Berkshire County during a campaign round Thursday.

“I appreciate the lived experience here and know that I will be a governor who will see Berkshire County, who will listen to Berkshire County. I’ll be showing up for Berkshire County,” the Democratic nominee said at a crowded “coffee hour” at 413 Bistro Thursday morning.

She later pointed to recent efforts from her position as Attorney General to support the county, including her office’s work to reduce energy prices — such as the Berkshire Gas Collective Bargaining Agreement — grants for local service agencies and for economic development, and violence prevention programs in schools such as Drury High.

“You have to show up. They have to show up, and I’ve shown up on multiple fronts as Attorney General,” she said.

Healey, who now has a vacancy as the Democratic nominee, received a warm welcome from local supporters, who cheered and applauded at several points during her speech. Officials in attendance included Senator Adam Hinds, Mayor Jennifer Macksey, MP John Barrett III, MP Paul Mark, Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington, City Council Presidents Lisa Blackmer, Peter Oleskiewicz, Bryan Sapienza and former Mayor Ashley Shade Richard Alcombright and numerous community and civic leaders.

She later toured the city’s ramshackle public safety building and met with local officials for lunch on the campus of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. A fundraiser was scheduled for Thursday night at the Hotel on North in Pittsfield, and it was due on the third Thursday in Pittsfield.

“She has worked for working families on how she will champion principles that are close to all of our hearts in this Commonwealth and in this country. She’s a proven fighter for it. And that’s one of the reasons I support them,” Hinds said at the Healey launch. “It’s absolutely critical that we have someone who has already championed Massachusetts and someone who will step up and make sure we continue right here.”

Healey addressed jobs, transportation, housing, mental health and the opioid crisis as challenges the state must continue to address. She is a proponent of east-west passenger rail and the connection of housing and transport as intertwined issues.

“I also know there’s too much of a Boston-centric mentality and the needs that we have in the greater Boston area in terms of housing and transportation are different than what we have to do here in North Adams and that helps me in Berkshire County.” Healey said to applause. “I will be a governor who understands the importance of investing in our regional transit authorities, who understands the importance of the east-west rail.”

She said median home prices and rents are “out of control” and that there is a housing crisis not just in Berkshire County but in the rest of the state.

“It’s really about economic prosperity. How do you want that if you don’t have a job? And how are you going to have a job if you’re not able to get to that job and that involves transportation and then of course where you live becomes very important,” Healey later said. “So we have to look at the housing stock in the raise whole state.”

Part of this is done through support for so-called 40B housing, which allows for denser neighborhoods in select areas, zoning law reviews, and transit-oriented housing to bring people closer to access transport so they can get to jobs, doctor’s appointments, etc. services. When asked about investors buying homes for short-term rentals (i.e., AirBnBs), Healey said it was a big issue and she would be talking to the Legislature about what could be done.

She repeatedly stressed the need to invest in the RTAs.

“We have to worry about affordability. We have to worry about reliability, and we have to worry about accessibility when things are available, when buses are available,” she said, adding that she also believes the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority is fixable.

Healey said she reviewed the Federal Transit Administration’s most recent corrective action report for the MBTA, which caught fire Thursday morning while passengers were on board.

“I also think it’s important that the discussion, transport, isn’t just about the T because we’re a nationwide operation. We need transportation to safe, reliable, and affordable locations across the state,” Healey said.

The two-year attorney general said the COVID-19 pandemic has turned a lot of things upside down, but also opened up opportunities for “a new script about how we do things, about how we do things. We can innovate and I’m very interested in that.”

“I’m thinking about what I mentioned in terms of priorities, housing, transportation, human resource development, mental health. There’s so much and there’s just so much money coming in that can be strategically invested and deployed in areas like Berkshire County that haven’t had the investment they deserve,” she said. “We can compete a lot harder if it’s about being at the forefront of arts, culture and hospitality, and this region can drive that forward.”

Healey pointed out that Massachusetts has been at the forefront of many things, both technological innovation and social advancement, and is truly the country’s bedrock since the national constitution is based on the Massachusetts constitution.

She spoke about her childhood on a farm just over the border in New Hampshire, how her father left when she was 10 and her mother went back to work as a nurse to support their five children, how she played and worked point guard in basketball Picking apples and serving cocktails in Hampton Beach to raise money for college.

It’s all about the grassroots, Healey said, noting how her team, with Taconic High School graduate Lucas Benjamin as regional director, is a homegrown team out here. She said her campaign people weren’t from other states or other campaigns: “It’s about the people who grew up and lived here.”

Healey will be running this November against the winner of September’s Republican primary, either Geoffrey Diehl, a Trump-backed former state representative for 7th Plymouth, or Chris Doughty, a Wrentham businessman and founder of Capstan Industries.

She declined to comment on the lieutenant governor’s race, which still has three candidates, and said she was focused on her own campaign. She said winning won’t be easy, referring to her predecessor, Attorney General Martha Coakley, who lost to Governor Charlie Baker in 2014.

“I can’t wait to work with this amazing team,” said Healey. “But I need your help as a teammate to get me there. Because no woman has ever won. No Attorney General has ever won and only two Democrats in 40 years, and these are challenging times, folks. We cannot take anything for granted.”

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