Massachusetts State Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz, a Democratic candidate for governor, told Boston Public Radio on Wednesday that she will use her experience building coalitions in the state legislature to propel her into the governor's seat next fall.
"What I have seen and heard over and over again is that it is getting harder to live in Massachusetts — and raise your family in Massachusetts — every day," said Chang-Díaz. "Housing costs are going up, healthcare costs are going up, our economic divides our extreme, our racial wealth gap is extreme. And families have been asked to wait too many times by Beacon Hill."
Chang-Díaz, a state senator since 2009, announced her candidacy two weeks ago. She said she's running to be the top executive now to bring "systemic and urgent" change to the state.
Republican Gov. Charlie Baker took the post 2015 and has enjoyed high approval ratings and support among the largely Democratic state. Chang-Díaz said the approval ratings of one politician do not paint a full picture about people's desires and expectations for how the state is governed.
"Regardless of the ratings [residents] give to any one elected official, the question is: Are these problems getting solved, and do people feel like they're doing just fine, or do they feel frustration, do they feel worry about the world their kids are going to inherit," she said. "And what I hear over and over again from people is that they're not satisfied with those things."
Chang-Díaz said she wants to lay down "better infrastructure, both physical and human," to provide systemic solutions to education inequities, transportation woes and economic injustices.
Baker has not announced if he will run for another term, but Chang-Díaz says she's running on a sense of urgency that Baker has not provided.
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She highlighted her work on the Student Opportunity Act — which created $1.5 billion in new education funding, prioritizing schools in lower-income communities — and said the Baker administration "poo-pooed" the reforms for years. Baker signed the legislation into law in 2019.
Host Jim Braude pressed Chang-Díaz on her criticisms of Baker's supposed incrementalism, when there are enough Democrats in the legislature to override any veto from him to get bills passed.
"That's what I've been doing for the past 12-plus years: Building coalitions that are going to cut through this sort of 'kick the can down the road' mentality, whether it's in the legislature or in the corner office, and it does exist in both places," she said. "Fundamentally, we need a culture change on Beacon Hill, that is the reality, and the governor's office is a huge piece of the puzzle."
Former state senator Ben Downing and Harvard professor Danielle Allen have also announced Democratic bids. The primary field may grow to include Attorney General Maura Healey, who has name recognition across the state, and nationally, for her litigation record against Donald Trump.
Chang-Díaz said she's up for the challenge, whoever she faces, again citing her record in the legislature.
"What I uniquely bring to this race is that record of working shoulder to shoulder with families across the state to achieve those big systemic results," she said.