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At Northampton forum, a single Democratic candidate for governor, 5 for lieutenant governor

4/12 lt gov debate
Northampton Open Media
The five Democratic candidates for Massachusetts lieutenant governor gathered for a forum in Northampton Tuesday evening. From left: Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, state Sen. Adam Hinds, state Sen. Eric Lesser, state Rep. Tami Gouveia and college instructor Bret Bero.

The five Democratic candidates for Massachusetts lieutenant governor, as well as one candidate for governor, gathered for a forum in Northampton Tuesday evening.

During the wide-ranging discussion televised by Northampton Open Media, state Sen. Adam Hinds of Pittsfield said his experience as a United Nations negotiator would help him if elected lieutenant governor.

"Nothing prepares you for standing up for your region in the state Senate or as lieutenant governor, taking on the big issues, quite like holding your own in a negotiation, a cease-fire negotiation, with the foreign minister of Syria," Hinds said.

The forum also featured another candidate from western Massachusetts, Longmeadow state Sen. Eric Lesser. To no surprise, Lesser said he'd continue his push to expand passenger rail service in the state if he's elected.

"I am committed to connecting our state, ultimately Albany-Boston," Lesser said. "We're going to do Pittsfield-Springfield-Worcester-Boston before that, to connect our state by high-speed rail."

State Sen. Tami Gouveia, Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll and college instructor Bret Bero are also vying for the Democratic nomination and took part in the event.

The tone of the forum was a civil throughout, with no back-and-forth among the candidates. The topics covered also included the role of the lieutenant governor, criminal justice reform and high stakes testing in public schools.

The two western Massachusetts-based candidates so far have the most money to spend in the race. As of the end of March, Lesser led by a wide margin with $1,006,649, according to state campaign finance data. Hinds had $314,612, Bero $246,611, Driscoll $112,937 and Gouveia $86,023.

Forum for governor a one-person affair

Prior to the lieutenant governor’s forum, a similar event was held for Democratic gubernatorial candidates, but only one candidate made it to Northampton High School.

Attorney General Maura Healey had a scheduling conflict, according to her campaign, and was not able to attend. Earlier in the day, she was in Worcester and attended the home opener for the Woo Sox minor league team.

That left Boston state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, the only other candidate, alone on the stage to field questions from panelists. She told the audience more needs to get done on Beacon Hill.

"We still have too many people in our state government, including in our own party if we're being honest, who are more concerned with holding on to power rather than doing something with it," Chang-Diaz said.

Chang-Diaz is far behind Healey in terms of campaign cash. According to state data, as of the end of March, Healey had $4.7 million on hand and Chang-Diaz just over $368,000.

Tuesday’s forums were sponsored by the Northampton Democratic Committee City Committee and Northampton Open Media. Former Northampton Mayor Mary Claire Higgins was the moderator.

The panel asking questions included New England Public Media reporter Nancy Cohen, executive editor of the Daily Hampshire Gazette Dan Crowley, and WHMP radio host and ACLU attorney Bill Newman. Newman said he participated in the forum as a member of the media and not as an ACLU representative.

Updated: April 13, 2022 at 4:06 PM EDT
This story has been updated to clarify Bill Newman's role at the forum.
Adam joined NEPM as a freelance reporter and fill-in operations assistant during the summer of 2011. For more than 15 years, Adam has had a number stops throughout his broadcast career, including as a news reporter and anchor, sports host and play-by-play announcer as well as a producer and technician.
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