Massachusetts Treasurer Shannon O’Brien officially announced her candidacy for governor to a crowd of about 100 supporters at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel yesterday morning.
O’Brien’s campaign kick-off speech attacked what she believed to be the corrupt political status quo in the state and called for new leadership to shape public interests.
“In far too many cases today, the attitude and the culture on Beacon Hill are marked by indifference, infighting, mismanagement and waste,” O’Brien said. “What does it say to the people of Massachusetts when a politically connected golf pro gets an unnecessary state job in the middle of a hiring freeze at the same time the social workers who help the mentally ill are being laid off?”
O’Brien also criticized acting Gov. Jane Swift for fiscal irresponsibility and the delayed passage of the state budget. Echoing the sentiments of President George Bush during his run for the presidency, O’Brien promised to bring honesty, integrity and responsibility back into the state administration.
She has revamped the state lottery system and initiated its first audit in 30 years. The lottery system was cast under new management in order to weed out problems with theft and fraud.
“I also helped expose the largest embezzlement scandal in our state’s history — nearly $10 million dollars heisted from our state treasury,” O’Brien said. “I cleaned up the mess, put in place new systems and controls to prevent that kind of corruption from happening again. And I restored the public’s confidence.”
During her speech, O’Brien stressed the need for strong leadership and said the fundamental function of a state government is to balance the budget.
Aside from her paramount goal of introducing a sound state budget in the future, she also called for more economic development opportunities for the state and for creating a more attractive environment for investors.
O’Brien said she will also focus on the improvement of the state’s public schools. She said she hopes to work with her running mate, Chris Gabrieli, to set higher standards for education and provide adequate training for adults who lack the necessary skills to compete in the current job market.
“We’ll help students who struggle, and we won’t let anyone fall through the cracks,” O’Brien said. “We’ll make sure that all students who graduate from our public schools not only read and write well, but also are prepared to go to college or to enter the workforce.”
The candidate also said she will work toward a better health care system in the state that will give affordable prescription drugs to senior citizens and “halt hospital closures until we have a realistic assessment of our need for beds and emergency rooms.”
Although her supporters seemed enthusiastic about her chances of being elected, O’Brien maintained the gubernatorial race will be a struggle and urged everyone to give whatever help they could. She promised to help the state revive its economy and instill a political culture that puts people first.
“The message is clear that politics comes first and the public’s interest in a distant second place,” she said. “We can’t tolerate this any longer. It diminishes our faith in government and it wastes your hard earned money.
“We need to get our priorities in order. It’s time for new leadership in the governor’s office and a new attitude in state government.”