Martha Coakley

Photo of  Martha Coakley

Candidate for: Governor

Party: Democrat

Occupation: Attorney General

Hometown: North Adams

Education: Williams College, Boston University (J.D.)

Campaign Website: www.marthacoakley.com

Questions & Answers

Question: How would you spur economic development and job creation throughout the state?

I believe that Massachusetts is poised to take off, but as our economic recovery continues and we continue to build on the progress begun by Governor Patrick, we need to ensure that everyone in Massachusetts has the opportunity to share in the prosperity, including women. It begins with building a workforce that has the skills to tackle the jobs of tomorrow; we need to get more young women involved in STEM earlier, so that they can succeed in the good jobs created in these burgeoning industries. We must also generate more engagement between our strong business community and our public education system, to ensure that every prospective worker has the right skills and a clear pathway into the workforce.

We also need to think regionally and comprehensively about attracting businesses to Massachusetts and connecting workers with those opportunities. Every region of the Commonwealth has different needs, in terms of housing, transportation, and communications infrastructure, all critical elements to retaining workers and supporting new and expanding businesses. As Governor, I will work closely with local officials to identify these needs and make the kind of targeted investments that will leverage the most benefit in terms of jobs and economic development.

Question: What are your priorities in education?

The goal of our public education system must be to ensure that every student has the best possible chance to reach his or her full potential. I recently released my Roadmap to Opportunity, which outlined my goals for improving the quality of our public education system, and ensuring access for every student.

High quality early education plays a powerful role in setting children on a path to success; as Governor, I am committed to guaranteeing access to early education for every child in our Gateway Cities within my first term, with the longer-term goal of ensuring access for every child in Massachusetts.

I also believe we need to do more to broaden and improve the experience of public education, for students and teachers. I have called for expanded learning time, inclusion of art and music, and empowering teachers to design curricula that are most effective for their students, and aren’t simply focused on a test.

In addition, we need to increase access to post-secondary education, which is why I have called for a full-need financial aid policy at our community colleges.  As a result, cost will no longer be a barrier for any qualified student to gain critical post-secondary experience.

Question: What would be your two transportation project priorities and why?

Each region of Massachusetts has unique transportation needs, and I believe our transportation investments should recognize those regional differences and target investments towards the projects that will leverage the most positive benefit, including updating our public transportation infrastructure in greater Boston and ensuring more funding for the RTAs that are critical in other parts of the state.

With that in mind, two of my top priorities as Governor will be South Coast Rail and the “Knowledge Corridor” rail line. I applaud Governor Patrick for the progress his administration has made on South Coast Rail; the project has the potential to unlock millions in economic development in communities like Fall River and New Bedford, and give residents of the South Coast far easier access to greater Boston.

The “Knowledge Corridor” rail line, running from Connecticut to Vermont and passing through Massachusetts’ Pioneer Valley, will connect population centers along the Connecticut River, and will promote tourism and economic development in communities that need it desperately, including Springfield, Holyoke, and Northampton.

Question: Should Massachusetts take steps in response to climate change, and, if so, what steps would you recommend?

We must absolutely take immediate action to address the reality of climate change.  This is not simply an environmental challenge – it is critical to the health of our economy and the quality of life for every resident of Massachusetts.

Governor Patrick has been a pioneer, spearheading the passage of both the Global Warming Solutions Act and the Green Communities Act; I will be committed to ensuring that we meet our 2020 greenhouse emissions goals, and establishing interim benchmarks to make sure we are on track to hit our 2050 goal.

To do this, I will ensure that every home and business in Massachusetts undergoes a home energy audit in the next eight years. I will also push for zoning changes and incentives that promote smart-growth development, and I will double funding for the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, to support our growing clean energy sector as it develops technologies that are more efficient and affordable.

And it’s not only about reducing greenhouse gas emissions, we must also preserve the natural resources that help absorb the impact of climate change; that is why I am committed to dedicating at least one percent of our state budget to environmental protection.

Question: Within the framework of the Affordable Care Act, how would you improve health care in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts has established itself as an international leader in health care quality and access. Our challenge now is maintaining this level of quality and access while controlling rising costs that are placing an enormous burden on working families, an effort my office has led the way on.

Another issue that has been on our minds recently is ensuring women’s continued access to affordable reproductive health care. That is why I fought so hard to preserve Massachusetts’ buffer zone, and have continued the fight even after the Supreme Court’s recent ruling. And I believe it is wrong that corporations be allowed to deny their workers contraceptive coverage; we cannot wait for the federal government, we must act now to close this crucial gap.

More generally, a challenge that is personal for me, we need to do a better job empowering individuals struggling with mental illness and/or substance abuse. I have called for implementing strategies to reduce the stigma around behavioral health disorders, including expanding peer mentoring for students and veterans. I also believe we need to increase funding and reimbursements for community-based services that enable people to receive critical care while remaining close to their families, jobs, and other social supports.