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Mass Decision 2010: The Greater Boston Interfaith Organization Hosts Massachusetts' Gubernatorial Candidates

by Talia Whyte

All four Massachusetts gubernatorial candidates gathered at Brookline’s Temple Israel Oct. 17 to discuss pressing social issues of concern to 1,100 attendees of various religious affiliations.  The forum was hosted by the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO), whose founding leader, the Rev. Hurmon Hamilton of Roxbury Presbyterian Church, always makes the point that he has the cell phone numbers of all the candidates and calls them regularly. 

Some of the issues discussed at the forum were fighting abusive interest rate fees at large banks, providing more jobs for youth and supporting Haitian refugees who arrived in the commonwealth after the earthquake.  Most of the evening was dedicated to discussing the ballot questions that the GBIO say threatens affordable housing and state services if the sales tax is reduced from 6.25 percent to three percent.    

GBIO organized in 2003 to improve working conditions for certified nursing assistants in Boston.   It negotiated with then Attorney-General Tom Reilly to create mandatory training sessions for industry leaders on overseeing proper workers’ rights.  Since then, GBIO has become the leading interfaith organization in the commonwealth, bringing politicians, religious leaders and community activists together.  More recently, GBIO played a role in bringing health reform statewide and are now focused on supporting vulnerable communities survive the current recession, which Rev. Hamilton says is largely corporate bank-driven.

“All the people in this room tonight are a force to be reckon with,” he said.