Driscoll: ‘We’re the cavalry’

  • Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll speaks to locals during her campaign for lieutenant governor at Stage on Main in Orange. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll speaks to locals during her campaign for lieutenant governor at Stage on Main in Orange. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll speaks to locals during her campaign for lieutenant governor at Stage on Main in Orange. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

Staff Writer
Published: 8/2/2022 1:41:38 PM
Modified: 8/2/2022 1:41:32 PM

ORANGE — For a community that often feels underrepresented on Beacon Hill, lieutenant governor candidate Kim Driscoll voiced a commitment to being a “strong state partner” during her campaign stop in Orange Sunday evening.

Driscoll, who visited Franklin County on July 5, was joined this weekend by a small crowd of locals at Stage on Main for an evening of refreshments and dialogue.

“The only way I know how to hold a campaign and run a campaign is shoe leather,” she said.

Before answering questions from the community, Driscoll honed in on issues regarding housing costs, transportation and education. Come time for the public to voice their concerns, it became clear that these areas of focus were also on the minds of North Quabbin region residents.

Driscoll, Salem’s 50th mayor and the first woman to occupy the position, also served as chief legal counsel and deputy city manager in Chelsea and the community development director in Beverly.

“She has spent almost all of her adult life in service to municipalities. … If she’s got that kind of stamina, I think she’ll stay with us,” Margot Parrot, Chair of the Athol Democratic Town Committee, said while introducing Driscoll.

In her bid for lieutenant governor, Driscoll faces fellow Democrats state Rep. Tami Gouveia, D-Acton, and state Sen. Eric Lesser, D-Longmeadow, in the Sept. 6 primary. Former candidates state Sen. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield, and businessman Bret Bero failed to reach the delegate threshold at the Democratic Party convention.

Early into her introductory address, Driscoll expressed her belief that “the really good things that happen in our communities happen through partnerships.”

“Through the last 16 years, we’ve really brought together people,” she said.

Driscoll showed awareness of how Western Massachusetts residents often “feel forgotten, feel neglected and sometimes feel disrespected” by state legislators, a concern that has frequently been voiced by these residents during other similar visits from politicians at Stage on Main. Being lieutenant governor, Driscoll said, would surpass the prototypical “liason” designation and fulfill a role as more of a “real strategic ally,” should she be elected. This, she argued would enable Boston “to push in and put their thumb on the scale for places that need additional assistance.”

Addressing the need for affordable housing, Driscoll cited success implementing a housing production plan at the local level, as well as embracing “smart growth zoning” strategies to enable more flexible development.

“Right now, we’re over 250,000 units short of the housing we need ...” she added during the question-and-answer segment.

In terms of transportation improvements, Driscoll referenced her implementation of a car share program within her municipality, purchasing municipal vehicles and operating via the Getaround app.

“My hope is that we can use innovation to be our friend,” she said on the topic of transportation.

Driscoll advocated for a bolstering of vocations and community colleges when addressing education issues, particularly emphasizing that we exist in a COVID-19-wracked world.

“We’ve got to change the formula,” she said. “It’s very clear that the ‘one size fits all’ approach doesn’t work for many things, but especially in schools.”

Driscoll closed out the evening by emphasizing that Massachusetts has to be self-reliant.

“You can’t depend on Washington,” she said. “It’s bananas up there. … Like I said, there’s no cavalry coming. We’re the cavalry.”

In closing, Denise Andrews, Stage on Main’s project manager and a former state representative from Orange, implored those in attendance to vote for who they believe in come the Nov. 8 Election Day.

“Our democracy is not where we want it to be and we all have to lean in if we want to get it to where we want it to be,” she said to the crowd.

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

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