By Alex Balletto – 1851 Staff
The excitement in de Witt Hall was palpable as Republican governor of Massachusetts, Charlie Baker, visited on October 26 to discuss politics with students, faculty, and various members of the community.
In just a short hour, Governor Baker addressed issues, talked about his campaign methods, and answered policy questions.
“This is not my first rodeo,” said Baker. He went on to explain his credentials, including Secretary of Health and Human Services, Secretary of Administration and Finance, and sitting on the Swampscott Board of Selectmen.
Baker urged anyone who aspires to be a politician to start local. He said, “There is no place to hide… you are always receiving direct and constant feedback.”
After overcoming the fact that he could be remembered as a “two-time-loser,” Baker decided to run for governor again in 2014, after losing in a 2010 bid against former Governor Deval Patrick.
Baker recognized what he did wrong in the 2010 election and opted to run again. Baker realized he was not giving voters a sense of who he is without ever meeting them in person. As Baker put it, the “day to day” stuff. In 2014, Baker’s victory year, he campaigned in places where he was “destined to lose,” such as Cambridge, Boston and Newton because of the high percentage of citizens who identify as Democratic in the area.
The three biggest “cares” which Baker holds are strong community, education, and making sure the economy is good for everybody. Baker is also a firm believer that every student has the right to receive a great education and talked about his personal upbringing and his children.
Governor Baker’s “lesson number one” is that “stuff is going to surprise you.” Within his first thirty days of office, Massachusetts was crippled with snow. Baker received laughs when he said “the T broke” and explained everything he and his team had to do to get the city and the transportation system back on its tracks. The snow forced Baker to “work like mad” to build relationships with people of Massachusetts and beyond.
Governor Baker has worked hard to create a bi-partisan team by “not spending too much time on peoples’ party affiliation” and hiring an array of Democrats, Republicans and “a few independents.” A challenge Baker recognized is that he had to staff his entire administration in sixty days after being elected.
Addressing a question from an audience member, Baker addressed education in two distinct ways. He said that if tax revenue increases, then the education budget increases with it, and that charter schools are very important as charter schools have some of the highest results in the state while located in underperforming school districts.
When asked about unused state land, Baker said an issue is that the state may not even realize it owns land. “We don’t need to make a fortune,” said Baker, but went on saying that affordable housing in expensive areas is a goal. “There is thousands and thousands of acres of possibility.”
Junior Victoria Gaudet brought up the issue of foster care, suggesting that there be a program for 18-22 year olds who are not ready to be thrown out in the real world yet. Baker said the state has failed to approve all applicants to become foster families, and in this situation, mastering programs on a small scale is better.
Baker ended his talk by saying the most important part about being governor is “honoring a very significant job that the people” of Massachusetts gave him.