Jay Gonzalez is an attorney, the former secretary of administration and finance in the Patrick administration, and the former chair of the Massachusetts Board of Early Education and Care. He is taking on Bob Massie for the Democratic nomination for governor. The two candidates will face-off in the primary on Sept. 4. The Gazette recently conducted a question-and-answer session with Gonzalez about the campaign and about the issues facing state. For more information about him, visit jay4ma.com. (The session has been edited.)
Q.: Why are you running to be governor of Massachusetts?
A.: I’m running for governor to make Massachusetts a leader again and to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives. With Donald Trump in the White House taking this country backwards, it’s up to states and their governors to make progress on the issues that matter to people.
As governor, I will work to fix our broken transportation system, making the critical investments we need and putting an end to privatization. I will make education a top priority – we will fully fund our public schools, and by the end of my first term, every child and family in Massachusetts will have access to high-quality, affordable preschool and daycare. I will fight to stop the opioid epidemic, putting real resources into treatment and recovery and supporting out-of-the-box ideas that can provide people the help they need.
I’ve got a bold vision and the leadership experience to deliver. Elections are about choices and in this race there is a clear choice between a governor who is dragging Massachusetts backwards and someone who will work to make Massachusetts a leader again; a choice between a governor who is only there for the privileged and the powerful and someone who will stand up for every single person in this state.
As governor, I will work with a sense of urgency to make Massachusetts a leader again and fight for all of the little guys out there.
Q.: What makes you a better candidate than your opponent to be the Democratic nominee for governor?
A.: While my opponent and I share many of the same values and policy goals, we bring very different experience to the job. I am the only one in this race with leadership experience in both the public and private sectors. As secretary of administration and finance, I was often Gov. Deval Patrick’s point person for working with the Legislature to get big things done. I ran a health insurance company that provided health care to low-income people in the Medicaid program, and we were recognized as a “Game Changer” for the work we did to help our members who struggled with opioid use disorder.
I also believe in the strength of our campaign. We have a much stronger and larger grassroots campaign, with thousands of volunteers across the Commonwealth and the support of dozens of legislators, statewide labor unions and activist organizations. In June, we won the Democratic Party’s endorsement at the state convention with more than 70 percent of the vote. In order for a Democrat to deliver on the kind of progressive agenda we have put forth, we have to win against Gov. Baker. My campaign has the enthusiasm and support and the momentum we need to take on Gov. Baker this fall and win.
Q.: What do you view as the most pressing issues for our state and what will you do to help fix them?
A.: Everywhere I go across the state, the issue that I hear the most about from people is our failing transportation system. Massachusetts is now ranked 47th nationally on commute times and 45th in the condition of our infrastructure. Whether it’s our trains, buses, roads, or highways, people cannot rely on our infrastructure to get to work on time. That is unacceptable. People are paying more for a less reliable system. Gov. Baker refuses to acknowledge the need for additional revenue, instead jacking up fares on riders and privatizing the system. Unlike Gov. Baker, I would be honest about our need for additional revenue and identify a progressive source of revenue to fund our system. I would end privatization and fire Keolis, the private commuter rail operator who has failed at providing the level of service people need and deserve.
Similarly, our education system has been neglected under Gov. Baker. Our schools have one of the largest achievement gaps in the nation, ranked 48th in the country. Teachers are being laid off across the state and critical services and programs are being cut every day. We are especially underfunding schools serving low-income students, and as a result school districts are suing the state for necessary additional funds. And Gov. Baker has no plan to support early education and childcare.
As governor, I would fully fund our public schools and ensure schools serving our most vulnerable students have the adequate resources they need to help close the achievement gap. I will make high-quality early childcare and education a reality for every family. I believe this is the single most important thing we can do to give all of our students the foundation they need to be successful in school and throughout their lives.
Q.: What are your thoughts on the scandals plaguing the State Police agency and what solutions do you propose?
A.: In light of the mounting number of scandals, management failures and alleged criminal acts coming out of the Massachusetts State Police, I have called on the Inspector General to undertake a top to bottom review of the Department. It is clear that Gov. Baker is totally incapable or completely unwilling to oversee the State Police. The Baker administration’s failures have led to fraud, falsified time sheets, falsified citations, embezzlement and general waste of taxpayer resources. An independent review by the Inspector General is needed to restore the public’s confidence in an important agency that has lost that confidence.
Q.: The MBTA, as everyone knows, has many problems. Do you think Gov. Charlie Baker is doing enough to address those problems and what would you do differently?
A.: Absolutely not. Gov. Baker has especially failed to lead our state on this issue. He is not being honest about our need for additional revenue for transportation. He refuses to make the necessary investments in our transportation system and as a result, the system continues to be plagued by breakdowns and delays. I would be honest about our need for additional revenue and identify a progressive source of revenue to fund our system. I would end privatization and fire Keolis, the private commuter rail operator who has failed to provide the level of service people need and deserve.
Q.: What are your views of Mission Hill and Jamaica Plain?
A.: I’ve been fortunate to spend a good amount of time in Jamaica Plain and Mission Hill during the campaign, and I have loved getting to know the communities and the residents. I love the rich culture and diversity of the neighborhoods, the walkability, the restaurants and the outdoor treasures like the Arboretum and Jamaica Pond, where my wife and I used to run when we lived nearby in Brookline.
Close to downtown Boston, both neighborhoods are attractive to college graduates and young professionals, but are becoming increasingly difficult for families to afford to buy homes. As governor, I would work with municipal leaders and communities to ensure that we have an affordable housing strategy here and across the Commonwealth so that people can afford to live here.