Newton Mayor Setti Warren tours the Berkshires as gubernatorial campaign begins

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NORTH ADAMS — Though the 2018 election may seem far away, the race for governor has already begun.

Newton Mayor Setti Warren, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate, stopped by Bright Ideas Brewing in North Adams on Tuesday to introduce himself and share his platform with Northern Berkshire voters.

Drawing a crowd of more than fifty people, Warren advocated for progressive policies like increased taxation on the wealthy, a single payer health care system and free public higher education.

"I believe we can do better. I believe we do need to address these issues," Warren said.

The event capped off a busy day of campaigning for Warren, who began his day in Great Barrington and made stops in Pittsfield, Lenox, Williamstown and North Adams.

In his tour of the Berkshires, Warren said he heard the negative impacts of the state's lack of investment in education, inadequate transportation and lack of access to high-speed internet for growing business.

"I'm energized. I'm inspired. These are the types of days that keep me going," Warren said.

Warren also stressed how his positions, such as supporting increased train service in the region, would benefit the Berkshires.

"I will be here on the ground" if elected governor, Warren promised.

He proposed creating "real regional plans" that address the needs of each region in the state.

"The state does not have a regional strategy at all," Warren said.

Three Democratic candidates have already announced their intention to challenge Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, in the 2018 gubernatorial election.

Two other candidates have already jumped into the race for the Democratic nomination: Bob Massie, an activist and former U.S. Senate candidate, and former state Secretary of Administration and Finance Jay Gonzalez.

Baker has said he won't announce until later this year whether he will seek re-election, but has enjoyed high favorability ratings in his first term in office.

Warren, who has served as Newton's mayor since 2010, announced his candidacy in May.

As mayor of Newton, Warren said he helped reverse the $40 million structural budget deficit he inherited when he took office. Now, he said, the city of more than 80,000 people has nearly $20 million in reserves.

"All of my budgets were based on outcomes for people," Warren said — budgets that at times included political risks, such as asking for a proposition 2 override during an election year.

Similarly, Warren said the state needs to raise revenues. He proposed doing so by analyzing tax loopholes and closing those that are ineffective, as well as raising taxes on the state's wealthiest earners.

He referred to economic inequality as the "defining issue of our time."

Warren was critical of Baker for his budget proposals, including those that cut MassHealth.

"These are working people, some of the most vulnerable people in our state," Warren said.

The candidate also touted his nine years of experience in the U.S. Navy Reserves, including a tour in Iraq in 2007.

Warren supports a $15 minimum wage and paid family leave, according to his campaign website. He also advocated Tuesday for free public higher education, regardless of a person or family's ability to pay.

The event was organized by local Democrats who were contacted by Warren's campaign. Warren is the first candidate to contact them, but the group hopes to host more.

"We are more than welcoming to anyone who wants to come forward," said City Council President Benjamin Lamb, one of the event's organizers.

Reach staff writer Adam Shanks at 413-496-6376 or @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter


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