Maura Healey makes Holyoke campaign stop; Tots education, housing, economy


HOLYOKE – Gubernatorial candidate Maura Healey gained the endorsement of Mayor Joshua A. Garcia and elected official during a Wednesday campaign stop in Holyoke, which included the attorney general visiting the Victory Theater.

Her visit focused on economic development, education and housing. She thanked Garcia, councilors Todd McGee and Tessa Murphy-Romboletti, and School Committee member Erin Brunelle for their support.

Healey said many families in the Commonwealth struggle with home availability and affordability. “Housing is at a crisis point around the state for many communities. So many people out there can’t afford rising rents, can’t afford mortgages, can’t think about paths to homeownership,” Healey said.

She promised to boost housing production across Massachusetts as governor, with the South Holyoke Homes project as an example. “I’m looking forward to being back and taking a tour over there,” she added.

Healey said the governor’s campaign focuses on economic development, schools and educational needs. She described herself as an “unlikely candidate” in her first attorney general run.

“We’re only going to solve today’s problems if we’re working, state, local federal, all of us together in government and outside government,” she said. “That’s the way we’re going to do this.”

Healey said she was a “strong believer” in public education, a product of the system; She called for the state to provide school districts the support and resources they need, including increased social, mental health and wraparound services.

“The state should support our local communities as they look to educate their young people,” she said.

Donald Sanders, the artistic director of the Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts (MIFA), led Health and officials on a tour of the long-shuttered Victory Theater. The cost to renovate the theater exceeds $40 million.

MIFA, the theater’s owner, has secured federal, state, and local tax credits and other funds for the project.

“I believe deeply that it is efforts like this that have an ability to transform communities,” Healey said. “I think about arts as something essential to the fabric of the community, to our vibrancy. It can also be a really big economic engine.”

After her talk, Healey said she supported the East-West rail plan, which received a $250 million state funding allocation.

“This is part of making sure we are making investments. We need to make in not only transportation, mobility in and around the Commonwealth, but also increasing opportunity,” she said.

The candidate wants a plan to end state receivership of the Holyoke Public Schools.

“I believe the state’s interest and the state’s role should be to support our communities, to support our schools, Healey said. “This has persisted for far too long. The first thing I do, I will demand a plan for exit.”

State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz ended her campaign for governor on Thursday. The Jamaica Plain Democrat’s departure ensures a path to the nomination for Healey, who continues to lead by large margins in polls.

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