|Gonzalez Stumps For Governor In Pittsfield|
|By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff|
02:39AM / Wednesday, December 20, 2017
|Jay Gonzalez spent about an hour with members of Indivisible Pittsfield Monday night.|
The Needham Democrat used to work in the Deval Patrick administration.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Jay Gonzalez has adopted the mantra "aim high" when it comes to his race for governor.
Gonzalez was the latest of the three Democratic candidates in the gubernatorial race right now to visit the group.
"Let's aim high when it comes to how we treat people. We need a governor who sees the value and potential of every single person, who respects everyone, who doesn't need coaching and pressure and second chances to get it right. If I am your governor, it won't matter what color you are, what your sexual orientation is, what you believe, whether you are from Pittsfield or from Boston, whether you just came this country, whether you have a disability, whether you are a refugee, whether you are transgender," Gonzalez said.
"I see you. I believe in you. And as your governor, I will work for you."
Gonzalez says he wants to "aim high" when it comes to investing in transportation, health care, tackling the opioid crisis, climate change, and criminal justice. For an hour he discussed his vision with the two dozen or so in the audience at the Berkshire Athenaeum.
"I'm not a career politician just trying to get to my next elected office. I'm not going to make whatever political calculation I need to make just to win at whatever cost. That is not why I am in this. I am in this because I care about people and I want to make a difference in people's lives," Gonzalez reassured the crowd.
Gonzalez had previously served as secretary of administration and finance in under Gov. Deval Patrick's administration. During his time there, he chaired the Massachusetts Health Connector Board and later took a job with Celticare Health and New Hampshire Healthy Families. His experience in healthcare had led him to take on the position of supporting a single-payer system.
But, he feels it is a mistake to move to it immediately. He is calling on a well-thought-out plan that achieves the ends of crafting a more affordable and better health care system in Massachusetts.
"We are talking about 20 percent of our economy. Single-payer is a means, not an end in itself," Gonzalez said.
When it comes to health care, the concept of "safe staffing" has come up across the state regarding nurses. Multiple union chapters of the Massachusetts Nursing Association have gone on strike over staffing issues -- including at Berkshire Medical Center -- and the MNA has gathered signatures to place a question on the ballot placing requirements regarding staffing levels. Gonzalez said fully supports the union's efforts.
"We need to ensure that there isn't cost cutting going on that is compromising the health and safety of patients. I do think this is a worthwhile issue," Gonzalez said.
He also supports paid family and medical leave and the fair share amendment, two questions that are also expected to be on the ballot. The fair share amendment has been dubbed "the millionaires tax" by placing an extra charge on incomes over $1 million. Gonzalez said that amendment will go a long way in addressing what he says is a regressive tax system.
And with the some $2 billion he estimates in revenue, he'd like to focus on improving the state's transportation system.
"We have starved our transportation system for decades," he said, attributing the start of that back to the Big Dig. "We need additional revenue to invest in our transportation system."
He said the state is ranked 45th in the nation when it comes to the condition of transportation infrastructure. In Pittsfield, the lack of transportation has been long documented and acknowledge and Gonzalez wants to tailor an improved system to meet the needs of the county.
"The RTA doesn't provide round the clock service. Or service after 6 o'clock. One of your economic drivers is tourism. Pittsfield is making an active effort to become part of the broader tourism industry and part of the arts and culture industry that is well entrenched in the southern part of the county. It could work a lot better if we had a transportation system for workers going to nighttime events can rely on. Or people who want to attend those events and staying at a hotel," Gonzalez said.
He added that it doesn't have to necessarily be just improving the bus system but also incorporating such things as ride sharing into the plan for the county.
Gonzalez also supports the "safe communities act," which focuses on immigration policies. The act is in opposition of the federal government's push to crack down on illegal immigration. Gonzalez says local and state law enforcement shouldn't be doing that job in the first place.
"State and local law enforcement resources should be focused on enforcing state and local laws and not doing the work of federal immigration officials. That is not their job. Particularly, now when you've got a president asking immigration officials to do things that, in my view, are inconsistent with the values of our country," Gonzalez said.
To address the opioid crisis, Gonzalez says the state currently lacks availability for treatment for the demand. He wants a stronger focus on getting those addicted to the drugs into treatment programs and a stronger education effort to keep people from getting addicted in the first place.
He also wants a stronger focus on homeless veterans. He said while Massachusetts provides more benefits to veterans than any other state, there are still too many veterans becoming homeless. He'd like to identify each one and get them into housing.
"We do have a number of veterans in the state who are homeless. And the truth is, it is not that complicated to address it. It just takes leadership that decides to do it," Gonzalez said.
Leadership is not what Gonzalez sees out of current Gov. Charlie Baker. He feels Baker has been too satisfied with the status quo.
"It is easy to be popular when you never do anything and you never take a stand and your whole approach to the job is being cautious instead of courageous. Meanwhile, there are still too many families in this state being left behind and way too little is being done to help them," Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez said he is frustrated with what he sees is Baker's lack of effort in moving the state forward. He was also critical of Baker's fiscal management.
"Gov. Baker is struggling to manage the budget during a period of economic growth. He continues to cut funding for programs we desperately need. And for the first time in 30 years, one of the rating agencies downgraded the state's bond rating under Charlie Baker. The reason they gave is because he isn't following the responsible policies when I was there," Gonzalez said.
The other Democrats currently in the race are Somerville author and activist Robert Massie and Newton Mayor Setti Warren.