Coakley visits with Westborough Democrats
By Michael Gelbwasser, Contributing Writer
Westborough – Martha Coakley says that when responding to Massachusetts’ homelessness crisis, “I start with why they’re homeless.” “I think you need to look at who’s homeless, and why,” the Democratic candidate for governor and the state’s current attorney general said said Feb. 11, during a Westborough Democratic Town Committee meeting held in the Tatnuck Bookseller Gift Gallery & Café’s event room.
One person at the event said homelessness people are being placed “at hotels and motels, often very far away from their jobs, very far away from their neighborhoods.” He asked Coakley how she would make the state’s response to homelessness more efficient.
Coakley said she would “do it region by region” with the nonprofits, and “more help from the state.”
Massachusetts’ homeless population includes, for example, veterans, and residents affected by the foreclosure crisis, Coakley said. And the homeless who suffer from mental illness need assistance with their needs, she noted.
Coakley spoke with area Democrats for about 30 minutes, ending with their questions.
“You’ve got a lot of great candidates to look at. You’re going to hear from them all during this race. I think it’s important that you test that out,” she said.
Coakley said she’s running for governor because “I think it’s important for the next governor to work to turn the economy around for everybody – not just Wall Street, not just people at the top, but for everybody in Massachusetts.”
She said she has spoken with families where “she works all night, he works all day” and yet “they can barely make ends meet.”
Statewide, opportunities exist to “increase our innovation” in high-tech, biotech and other industries, Coakley said.
She said she supports raising the minimum wage.
Turning to education, Coakley said the next governor “has to make sure that we transform our schools into places where kids have the opportunity to do as well as they possibly can.”
She supports providing students with access to pre-Kindergarten.
“We know that that gives them a better chance to do well in second grade and third grade,” she added.
Coakley said she is also is running for governor because “I think it’s time to reduce the stigma around getting help for behavioral and mental health care, and that we provide access to people to that.”
One community member asked Coakley how she would address issues with the health care system software Massachusetts uses.
“I’ve seen the issue. I came into an attorney general’s office where in some of our divisions, we had things on file cards. Government has been, and always will be, behind the private sector in terms of technology,” she said.
“But it’s crucial that as we move forward into the 21st century, we need to make sure that all of our agencies have the software and the technology to do the job.
“I’ve tried to do that every place I’ve been: to bring us into the 21st century. And, we have to work with the private sector.”
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