‘Our systems are failing’: Chang-Diaz connects with locals on campaign trail for governor

  • Democratic gubernatorial candidate Sonia Chang-Diaz, left, listens to an attendee’s question during a “Meet & Greet Your Statewide Candidates Series” event at the 110 Grill in Athol on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • CHANG-DIAZ

  • Democratic gubernatorial candidate Sonia Chang-Diaz speaks during a “Meet & Greet Your Statewide Candidates Series” event at the 110 Grill in Athol on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • An attendee asks Democratic gubernatorial candidate Sonia Chang-Diaz for strong progressive action on tax reform during a “Meet & Greet Your Statewide Candidates Series” event at the 110 Grill in Athol on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • Democratic gubernatorial candidate Sonia Chang-Diaz speaks during a “Meet & Greet Your Statewide Candidates Series” event at the 110 Grill in Athol on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

Staff Writer
Published: 11/1/2021 10:20:41 AM
Modified: 11/1/2021 10:26:21 AM

ATHOL — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Sonia Chang-Diaz turned to her varied background to field questions regarding rural versus urban-centric policy during her Saturday afternoon “Meet & Greet Your Statewide Candidates Series” event.

Hosted at Athol’s 110 Grill, the panel filled a function room for an hour and a half of Chang Diaz’s presentation and an opportunity for guests to ask questions. She opened the event with an introductory speech that highlighted her father (an impoverished immigrant turned first-ever Latino astronaut), her mother (a savvy social worker), and her own experience being the first Latina to serve in the Massachusetts Senate. After, Chang-Diaz addressed public concerns over education, climate change, the tax system and general disconnect between urban policymakers and small-town residents.

In her introduction, Chang-Diaz invoked a resonant personal anecdote to hammer home the importance of generational progress by drawing from the experiences of her parents. Her family situation, as she put it, was an “exception” in how it enabled her to receive a high-quality education in spite of a background of economic disadvantage. She highlighted her father’s obvious achievement as the first Latino astronaut, but also stressed the significance of her mother’s work.

“She knows how to make every penny work,” Chang-Diaz said. “She always managed to find enough.”

She closed out her introduction with a call to action for “frustrated Democrats” tired of “people in power who care more about holding onto their power than using it.” Like her Democratic opponent Ben Downing, who kicked off the “Meet & Greet Your Statewide Candidates Series” last week with an event at Stage on Main in Orange, Chang-Diaz wasn’t shy in calling out Gov. Charlie Baker and his administration.

“Our systems are failing hundreds of thousands of families,” she said. “Every time, I have seen the Baker-Polito administration water down our progress.”

The function room where the event took place had no shortage of “frustrated Democrats.” Chang-Diaz was questioned by a series of people who feel that Western Massachusetts — and small, rural communities in the state in general — is underrepresented in state politics.

“What always inspires me about living in this area is how many intelligent, motivated, activist people live here,” event co-host and Greenfield School Committee member Susan Hollins said.

During a discussion about education disparities, Chang-Diaz voiced her belief that there should be universal debt-free access to public higher education. Later, on the topic of climate change, she said it is “bananas, crazy, stupid for us” that greenhouse gas emissions remain such a problem while Massachusetts has so much money and so many resources.

Toward the end of the question and answer session, Chang-Diaz stood her ground and maintained a gradualist stance on changing the current tax system, arguing with a resident that the time and money necessitated by an entailed Constitutional amendment would compromise opportunities in the process.

“These were no easy questions,” event co-host and former state Rep. Denise Andrews said after the debate. “These were meaty, critical questions that we struggle with and are still figuring out.”

The next installment in the “Meet & Greet Your Statewide Candidates Series” will see Danielle Allen at Stage on Main in Orange at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 7.

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or jmendoza@recorder.com.


E-Edition & Local Ads


Weather


athol forecast

Social Media




Athol Daily News

14 Hope Street,
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Telephone: (413) 772-0261

 

Copyright © 2021 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.