Governor-elect Maura Healey has broken several records with her win in the Nov. 8 election. Healey is the first female governor in Massachusetts and the first openly lesbian governor in the nation.
While Healey is not originally from Massachusetts, her connection to the state spans decades. Healey was a student athlete at Harvard College, where she was captain of the women’s basketball team, then later received her law degree from Northeastern University.
For the past eight years, Healey has served as attorney general for the state, leading lawsuits against ExxonMobil for their climate change deceptions, the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma for their role in the opioid crisis, as well as hundreds of lawsuits against former President Donald Trump.
The Healey campaign focuses on issues including transportation, education and protecting reproductive rights.
A major concern for Massachusetts residents is reforming Boston’s transportation system, a topic that affects the people and the economies both locally and at the state level.
“We don’t have a functioning economy in Massachusetts, unless we have a functioning public transportation system that works for all over the state,” Healey said in the Oct. 12 gubernatorial debate. “We need to make it safe, we need to make it affordable and we need to make it reliable.”
During the debate with GOP candidate Geoff Diehl, Healey said as governor she would appoint a safety chief to the MBTA in order to assure that commuters utilize transportation safely and reliably. In addition, she said, she would implement new governance within transportation that would respond to both capital planning and operations.
The MBTA has faced a major worker shortage, increasing and compounding on existing challenges in the transportation sector. Healey said she plans to grow the workforce.
“Right now, we don’t have enough people who are trained,” she said in a debate. “The good news is we have money coming in.”
Another pressing challenge to the candidates is the state’s educational system.
Healey, who is a middle school basketball coach and has family members working in education, dubbed herself the “education governor.” She plans to implement and strengthen programs that will address the accessibility and quality of education in the state, as well as better pay for education support staff.
“I am a huge proponent of education and support for educators because I know how foundational that is to the life and wellbeing and success of every child and person in this state,” Healey said on the campaign trail at the Massachusetts Teachers Association office in Worcester, according to MassLive.
Healey outlined several goals for education for her possible gubernatorial role, including advocating for President Joe Biden to cancel student loan debt up to $50,000 per borrower, investing in community colleges and increasing opportunities for residents to receive high quality higher education free of debt.
Healey and her running mate for lieutenant governor Kim Driscoll have also drafted their plan for a program called MassReconnect that will fund community college for people aged 25 years or older. This will help students 25 and over to receive an education, Healey said during the debate, to get a degree or certificate that will “make them ready to work today.”
“These are the kinds of investments we need to make,” Healey said. “We don’t need to go in the direction of the private market.”
In addition to providing scholarships and grants to cover tuition, MassReconnect also plans to cover fees and costs of supplies like textbooks, as well as provide academic counselors to students. The program follows a structure similar to successful programs in Michigan and Tennessee.
Healey has said she’ll be a governor who will protect reproductive freedom. During the gubernatorial debate, she said she will “protect the right of a woman to make that intensely personal and often difficult decision for herself.”
“As long as I’m governor, we will always protect access to safe, legal abortion,” she said in a Sept. 6 speech after winning the Democratic nomination.
Healey’s campaign called upon the need for cooperation on all issues, both locally and at the state level, which she emphasized at the debate on Oct. 12.
“It’s not about the points scored, it’s about the assists,” Healey said — a nod to her years as a collegiate and professional athlete as a point guard. “Too many are looking to divide. I want to be a governor who is about delivering for people… I will find common ground.”