SALEM — Five-term Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll is joining the crowded field of Democrats running for lieutenant governor.
Driscoll is the first mayor to enter the race, which already includes two Western Massachusetts state senators.
State Sens. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield, and Eric Lesser, D-Longmeadow, as well as state Rep. Tami Gouveia, D-Acton, and Boston businessman Bret Bero, all are pursuing the Democratic nomination.
In a Tuesday announcement video, Driscoll promised a “new focus from Beacon Hill” on the needs of cities of towns.
“We need leaders who can understand and empower communities,” Driscoll said.
The winner of the September primary will get paired on a ticket with the party’s gubernatorial nominee as Democrats hope to retake the corner office in the November general election. Republican Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, who first won election in 2014, will not seek reelection.
The role of the lieutenant governor can vary by administration, but it generally is focused on advancing the priorities of the governor. In the Baker administration, Polito served as the main liaison to municipalities.
Driscoll is likely to draw upon her experience as an executive as she makes her case for the nomination.
That experience is part of why Sara Seinberg, a Leyden resident who is active in Democratic politics and supports Driscoll, believes the mayor can win support even in Western Massachusetts. Driscoll’s work on climate as mayor also may connect with voters in a region where climate change impacts key economic sectors, such as agriculture and tourism.
“This particular job is about towns and cities across Massachusetts, and she is the only one running who is an executive,” Seinberg said. “I think when she begins her campaign and starts talking to people in Western Massachusetts, she’s going to resonate with people, because she is approachable and relatable and is interested with having an authentic connection with people.”
Driscoll is coming off a reelection campaign in Salem last fall, when she was elected to a fifth four-year term. In the city, Driscoll was a champion for Baker’s eventually successful push to pass zoning reform at the Statehouse to facilitate new-housing construction.
“Mayors like me have been on the front lines of our most urgent fights — from COVID-19 response and recovery to racial equality, the climate crisis, strengthening our public schools and making housing more affordable,” Driscoll said in her launch video. “At this moment of change, so much is at stake.”
Recently, Salem adopted a vaccine requirement for certain businesses like restaurants.
Driscoll, 55, previously worked as chief legal counsel and deputy city manager in Chelsea and served on the Salem City Council before first running for mayor in 2005. Long looked at as a potential statewide candidate, the mayor launched her campaign Tuesday with the support of 21 other mayors, North Shore lawmakers, community leaders and local Governor’s Councilor Eileen Duff.
Eagle staff writer Danny Jin contributed to this report.