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MILFORD — With the next state election looming in the fall, a number of Democratic candidates made their pitch to local party members Sunday, touting their backgrounds and visions for Massachusetts.
The Milford Democratic Town Committee hosted a candidate brunch at The Crystal Room on Cedar Street, inviting candidates vying for county and statewide offices to introduce themselves to the audience.
The committee also honored John Fernandes, who retired from the House last year after serving as state representative for the 10th Worcester District from 2007 to 2016.
In the race for governor, Democrats may choose between three or more candidates to challenge Republican Charlie Baker, who is finishing his first term in office. Candidates seized on the opportunity Sunday to round up signatures and build support among party loyalists, many of whom will attend the party’s convention this summer.
Democrats who collect enough signatures will face their next test on the weekend of June 1, when delegates from around the state will assemble at the DCU Center in Worcester. Under the party's rules, Democratic candidates must receive at least 15 percent of the vote at the state convention to qualify for a spot on the ballot in the primaries. The top vote-getter will receive the party's endorsement, and his or her name will appear in the top stop on the primary ballot, along with a message noting the party’s endorsement.
Among those hoping to unseat Baker are former Newton Mayor Setti Warren; Jay Gonzalez, who served as Secretary of Administration and Finance under Gov. Deval Patrick; and Somerville activist Bob Massie, who also ran for U.S. Senate in 2011.
Speaking at Sunday’s event, Massie challenged the notion that the state’s economy has rebounded, saying many residents are stuck in low-paying jobs and struggling to afford housing, health care and education.
"That's an upside-down economy,” he said, “and we see it all over the state."
State Auditor Suzanne Bump, finishing her seventh year in office, briefly outlined her vision for the auditor’s office, calling herself the state’s “chief accountability officer." Bump, who will seek her third four-year term in the fall, said the underlying theme of the auditor’s work is to build trust in government by holding state agencies accountable.
That mission sometimes generates headlines people don’t want to see, Bump said — particularly when her office uncovers misspent resources, or agencies falling short of their responsibilities.
"The reality is ... that we have to show, if we want people to believe in government, that government is capable of self-examination and self-correction,” she said, “and that's how you build trust in government."
Other speakers included a representative from Warren’s gubernatorial campaign; Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early; attorney Katie Toomey, who is running for register of deeds for Worcester County; and Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim, who is mounting a primary challenge against longtime Democratic Secretary of State William Galvin.
Zakim, who was elected to the Boston City Council in 2013, said he would work to improve public access to government records — one of the secretary of state’s primary jobs — and be proactive in supporting victims of financial scams. Zakim, who represents the Boston neighborhoods of Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Fenway, Kenmore Square, Mission Hill, Audubon Circle, and the West End, said he would also increase access to the ballot through initiatives such as same-day voter registration and easier absentee voting for people who are at work or at school on election day.
"We can and we should be a leader on this," he said.
Worcester lawyer Paul DePalo also spoke about his candidacy for the Seventh District Governor’s Council seat, which is held by Republican Jennie L. Caissie. DePalo said he would bring “Democratic values” to the council, promoting civil rights, collective bargaining and access to reproductive health.
DePalo, who previously taught at an alternative school in Uxbridge, said he would also promote criminal justice reform, and push for more “regional equity” among judges, with greater representation for central Massachusetts on the bench.
Calling Caissie — who was elected in 2010 — a “Republican Tea Party incumbent,” DePalo said he plans to be visible in the district explaining the council’s role in state government, which includes overseeing judicial nominees.
"The energy down here is amazing,” he said, “and I am looking forward to working with the incredible slate of candidates that we have to turn Blackstone Valley blue as well."
Jim Haddadin can be reached at 617-863-7144 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @JimHaddadin