|Candidate Gonzalez Promises To Keep Close Ties To Berkshires|
|By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff|
07:50PM / Monday, July 16, 2018
|Jay Gonzalez earned the endorsements of City Councilors Helen Moon and John Krol.|
Jay Gonzalez met with voters at Dottie's on Monday.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — As secretary of administration and finance in under Gov. Deval Patrick's administration, Jay Gonzalez took a number of trips to the Berkshires.
Patrick, who owns a home in Richmond, used to hold cabinet meetings here, bringing state secretaries from various parts of government together. Gonzalez doesn't see that same level of commitment from current Gov. Charlie Baker and the Needham Democrat says he'll make sure the Berkshires are a priority in Boston.
"I think I've been out here 10 times as a candidate. I don't know how many times the governor's been here but it is nowhere close in three and a half years as governor," Gonzalez said. "I want to be the governor of the entire state."
Gonzalez is facing Bob Massie
in the Democratic primary. The former health care executive says there is a "blue wave" coming across Massachusetts in which Democrats will be heading to the polls in droves this fall and he wants his name on top of the ticket.
"There is going to be a very clear choice in this election. It is going to be a governor who is only in it for the wealthy special interests who are filling his campaign coffers, who is doing nothing to help regular people get ahead, and is dragging Massachusetts backward versus someone who is going to be in this for all of the little guys, trying to make a difference in regular people's lives, who will stand up for every single person, and working to make all of Massachusetts a leader," Gonzalez said.
The stronghold of Democratic voters in the Berkshires becomes an important primary piece. Gonzalez has made numerous trips to the area to assure those in the area that he has their best interest at heart.
"I am going to be a governor out engaging with people in Berkshire County and elsewhere in the state," Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez wouldn't commit to holding cabinet meetings here like Patrick did, but promised that in some form or another he will make sure his administration will have close ties to the county.
Two of those who believe he does have the area's best interest at heart is Pittsfield City Council Vice President John Krol and Ward 1 Councilor Helen Moon. The pair joined Gonzalez at Dottie's on Monday to urge their constituents to support Gonzalez as well.
"We know there are issues in Pittsfield Massachusetts that are not being addressed by leadership in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts," Krol said.
"We have challenges with Chapter 70 funding. We have challenges with transportation. We have challenges with just funding coming in to fund our budgets so we can fund schools and do the things to benefit the people... We need an advocate on Beacon Hill and in the corner office."
Moon said she hadn't chosen which candidate to endorse until recently and what convinced her was Gonzalez's "persistence" in understanding the local issues. She added he is the candidate "really fighting for the cost of living, single-payer health care," and fixing the county's infrastructure.
Both Krol and Moon cited Gonzalez's support for single-payer health care, which they say could alleviate the biggest challenge with the city's budget.
Gonzalez particularly emphasized his commitment to transportation options. He said the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority underserves the county and needs both investment and creative thinking.
"Having a stronger regional transit authority will help drive a stronger economy and growth here. But, we also need to recognize that Berkshire County is the least densely populated county, regional transit authorities are important but it is not going to be a solution for everyone. I think we need to be thinking outside of the box," Gonzalez said.
He also is supportive of east to west and north to south rail. He cited state Sen. Adam Hinds efforts on both of those fronts but said the Republican Gov. Charlie Baker isn't making such a commitment.
Gonzalez said he also wants to focus on the population issues in the county and help the Berkshires take advantage of assets such as the creative economy and outdoor recreation to bolster the area. He has watched how local schools struggle, and some close, because of the enrollment trends.
Lexington state Rep. Jay Kaufman happened to be vacationing in Western Massachusetts and stopped by Dottie's to show his support for Gonzalez as well. Kaufman said there is more than policy issues at stake in this election. He said the next governor will likely be appointing a state Supreme Court justice and redistricting, which will most likely have a significant impact on the Berkshires representation in Boston, will shape the state for years to come.
"The whole architecture of the way we operate as a state and will operate for the next generation is going to be shaped by the next administration," Kaufman said.
But defeating Baker won't be easy. Baker is considered the most popular governor not only in Massachusetts but across the country. And Baker has significantly more money in the bank to spend on the campaign.
Gonzalez isn't deterred though.
"I'm feeling very good with how our fundraising is going. It is ramping up. To date, we've raised, including the public financing, close to $1.2 million. We've got to close to $500,000 on hand and our fundraising is continuing to ramp up. We don't need to raise $30 million in dark money like Charlie Baker to win this election. We just need to raise enough to support a strong grassroots campaign," Gonzalez said.