Gov. candidates make their pitches in JP

December 20, 2013
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Three Democratic hopefuls to win the Governor’s Office next year spoke and answered questions at a Dec. 4 forum staged at Doyle’s Café by local progressive organizations.

Joe Avellone, Donald Berwick and Juliette Kayyem took turns speaking and answering questions at the forum organized by JP Progressives and Jamaica Plain Forum.

Avellone, an executive at PAREXEL International, a global bio-pharmaceutical research company, said Massachusetts should be more business-friendly to create jobs.

He stated that he would support more charter schools, but only if they served as “innovation centers” for public school systems.

He also emphasized the need for environmentally friendly policies, calling it a “moral issue.” He said he would pursue such policies aggressively, including a carbon-production tax for vehicles and industries.

“It should be carefully structured and revenue-neutral,” he said, meaning that taxes would be cut elsewhere to compensate.

“I’m very interested in results. I’m not the most progressive candidate, but I’ll get things done,” he said.

Kayyem recently served as assistant secretary for intergovernmental affairs at the Department of Homeland Security. Previously, she worked in Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration as homeland security advisor.

Kayyem highlighted her family’s Lebanese immigrant background and how that has shaped her belief in inclusiveness.

“There are too many people who feel they don’t belong in the conversation,” she said. “There is no old guard. There is no new guard. There is only us.”

She said she is committed to criminal code reform and to supporting social services, and especially to reversing inequality.

With that in mind, she said, she would implement better support for pre-kindergarten and community and state colleges, along with loan forgiveness programs and capping state college fees.

She also spoke of the importance of government reforming welfare legislation.

The onus “is on the government to fix it, not the recipients,” she said.

Berwick spoke about how “the nation needs a beacon, ending homelessness, ending hunger,” and how Massachusetts could be that beacon.

Originally a pediatrician and recently the top administrator of the federal Medicaid and Medicare programs, Berwick said that if health care doesn’t naturally move toward a single-payer system, he would “shove it” in that direction.

“We’ve got to put [single-payment forward] as an option,” he said.

He also emphasized his commitment to early childhood health and schooling.

“We need to make sure every kid in our Commonwealth is ready for school,” meaning healthy, well-fed and ready to learn, he said. “It’s not just compassionate, it’s smart.”

As for charter schools, he said there is room for a “limited role” for them as “lab environments with a representative student population,” including special education students.

He said he would also “double down” on green initiatives and aim to bring a more progressive income taxation to the Commonwealth.

The organizations held another forum with Democratic candidates Martha Coakley, the current state attorney general, and Steven Grossman, the current state treasurer, on Nov. 20.

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