Northampton mayor backs gubernatorial hopeful Setti Warren


For the Gazette

Published: 07-12-2017 9:29 AM

NORTHAMPTON — Massachusetts needs a governor for the entire state, Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz said Tuesday, and Newton Mayor Setti Warren can be that person.

“Don’t forget about western Massachusetts,” Narkewicz said. “One size doesn’t always fit all.”

Warren and Narkewicz swung through the Bluebonnet Diner on Tuesday morning, where the Democratic candidate for governor chatted up people eating breakfast at the King Street restaurant and accepted Narkewicz’s official endorsement of his gubernatorial bid.

“I had the great pleasure to know and work with Setti as he was mayor,” Narkewicz said. “I admire his work. He’s had to deal with complex issues, but he’s brought many people together, one of the skills needed as a governor.”

Narkewicz led Newton’s two-term mayor through the diner, pointing out a toy train that circled around the top of the walls and greeting wait staff and customers.

Narkewicz introduced Warren to Bluebonnet owner Jim Greco, who called Narkewicz a “regular.”

“As governor, what do I need to do?” Warren asked Greco.

Greco requested that he not push for a raise to the minimum wage past its current rate of $11 an hour, which took effect in January.

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Other big topics that Warren and Narkewicz discussed with customers were health care, transportation and lack of attention on western Massachusetts from state government officials.

In talking with diners, Narkewicz and Warren said some expressed disappointment with proposed cuts to bus routes by the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority and that a feasibility study to examine high-speed rail between Boston and Springfield is not included in this year’s state budget. The two mayors agreed that transportation needs to be improved, and it starts with the state budget.

Warren is one of three declared candidates for governor. The other two are Jay Gonzalez, a Democrat and former state secretary of administration and finance, and Democrat Bob Massie, an entrepreneur and 2012 U.S. Senate candidate. Republican Gov. Charlie Baker has yet to announce if he will seek re-election.

Warren said he was proud to have Narkewicz’s endorsement, saying he was impressed by the Northampton mayor’s work ethic and accomplishments.

Warren is an Iraq War veteran who worked as a special assistant in the White House Office of Cabinet Affairs for President Bill Clinton, as New England director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and as deputy state director for former U.S. Sen. John Kerry.

Warren’s campaign is focusing on economic equality, which he considers the “issue of the time.” All people need to be able to make ends meet, he said. To ensure this happens, Warren has proposed free public college and single-payer health care.

“There needs to be an investment for all people,” Warren said. “It’s going to take a governor to do that, and it’s not happening right now in the commonwealth.”

Warren’s goal for the state budget is making it transparent, something he doesn’t see in the current government.

“Mayors have to make sure every single dollar is accountable,” Warren said. “How are we spending? Where are we spending? Is it effective?”

In Newton, Warren inherited a $40 million projected deficit and an empty rainy day fund. Today, the city has a rainy day fund approaching $20 million.

Although the gubernatorial election isn’t until November 2018, Warren said he plans to continue reaching out to residents across the state.

“We live in a time where there’s increased differences,” Warren said. “It’s important to reach out to people from all sides.”