By Anna Tse
A total of 13 state office candidates gathered at China Pearl in Chinatown for a “speed dating” town hall with the Asian American community on May 29. The event attracted many residents and community leaders to hear from the 13 hopefuls — five candidates for governor, three for lieutenant governor, three for state treasurer and two for attorney general.
Each candidate first had a 10-minute introduction and then a recorded interview where they were asked a few questions. Topics ranged from mitigating high rates of Asian American gambling addiction, construction of new casinos in Massachusetts, helping immigrant businesses and promoting diversity in state government.
The recorded interviews will be posted online before the Mass. Democratic State Convention June 13 to 14. This will also be before the primary election Sept. 9 and the general election Nov. 4.
The Asian American delegates and statewide candidates meet and greet was hosted by Leverett Wing who partnered with 25 organizations for the non-partisan gubernatorial forums. Wing said, “I think it’s vital for our community to stay civically engaged.”
Asian Americans are the fastest growing minority population in the United States, and the fastest growing racial group in Boston, matching Latinos at 27 percent, according to the 2010 census. Asian Americans now make up 10 percent of the city’s population.
“When elected officials and candidates know that our community holds them accountable, they’re more likely to listen to our concerns and pay attention to issue which are important to us,” Wing said. “In the past, our community has suffered a great deal when decision-making officials haven’t taken our concerns into account. We can’t ever let that happen again.”
Wing said there would be more state candidate events in Chinatown over the summer and hoped more voters will attend. “We need to make sure people know that if their faces are seen, and if their voices are heard, it will benefit the community and themselves,” he said.
Below are brief introductions to the candidates by office.
- Joe Avellone
Joe Avellone is a Democrat from Wellesley running for Governor of Massachusetts. Avellone has served in various management leadership roles throughout his distinguished private and public sector career, including surgeon, entrepreneur, health care executive, selectman and lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy Reserves.
Avellone currently works as the corporate senior vice president at Parexel International, a global bio-pharmaceutical research company, where he oversees 10,000 employees worldwide, as well as offices in 50 countries.
Avellone spent five years as a resident surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital before moving to New Hampshire where he served as a surgeon at Concord Hospital.
- Don Berwick
Don Berwick has called Massachusetts home for decades — first as a student, then as a pediatrician, a teacher and a CEO.
Berwick followed in his father’s footsteps and became a pediatrician. In 1991, he helped found the nonprofit Institute for Healthcare Improvement, where for 20 years he led scores of projects and massive campaigns.
Berwick has been named to the list of most influential health care leaders in the country every year for more than a decade. In 2011, he ranked No. 4 on the list — just after President Obama.
In 2010, the President asked Berwick to go to Washington to lead the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Berwick took charge of an agency with a budget over $800 billion — larger than the Pentagon’s — and led a staff of more than 5,500 people. At one of the most critical times in our nation’s history, Berwick implemented many of the most important provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
- Attorney General Martha Coakley
Martha Coakley is serving her second term as Massachusetts attorney general — a post she was first elected to in 2006. She charted a career as a distinguished prosecutor on the state and federal levels before serving eight years as Middlesex district attorney and then as the Commonwealth’s first female attorney general.
She is a former president of the Women’s Bar Association of Massachusetts, and has served on the board of directors at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.
- State Treasurer Steve Grossman
As CEO of Grossman Marketing Group, Steve Grossman is a small businessman with more than 35 years of experience running a successful family company.
Elected state treasurer in 2010, Grossman worked with community banks and created the Small Business Banking Partnership, an innovative program to help small businesses get the money they need to grow and create jobs. He has also reformed hiring practices throughout the Treasury, recruiting the most qualified person for every position and reflecting the diversity of our society.
As chairman of the Mass. Democratic Party and as national party chair under President Bill Clinton, Grossman launched initiatives that propelled women, youth and people of color into leadership positions.
- Juliette Kayyem
Juliette Kayyem started her career as a civil rights attorney, litigating cases involving the rights of children and defending progressive causes.
Kayyem then moved into public safety and homeland security, serving as Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick’s homeland security adviser. She was soon tapped by President-elect Obama to be part of his transition team before being chosen as assistant secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs at the Department of Homeland Security.
As Assistant Secretary, Kayyem was responsible for coordinated and consistent planning between the federal government and all of its state, local, and territorial partners on a myriad of issues, and handling responses to crises such as the Haiti earthquake and the BP oil spill for which Kayyem was awarded the Coast Guard’s highest civilian honor.
Kayyem has also taught new leaders in public safety and the military at Harvard’s Kennedy School, served as a CNN analyst, and was a columnist for the Boston Globe. In 2013 she was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for her series urging the Pentagon to end its female combat exclusion rule.
Lieutenant Governor candidates
- Leland Cheung
Leland Cheung has served as a city councillor for Cambridge, Mass., since 2009.
Cheung was first elected to the Council while pursuing a master’s in public administration at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and a master’s of business administration at the MIT Sloan School of Management. He was the first currently-enrolled student to be elected to the council as well as the first Asian American. Before assuming his role as city councillor, Leland worked as a senior associate at Masthead Partners, a Cambridge-based venture capital firm focusing on digital media, mobile and Internet infrastructure. Cheung is an executive committee member of the Massachusetts Democratic State Committee and a member of the Massachusetts Democratic Platform Drafting Committee.
He is a commissioner on Governor Patrick’s Asian American Commission and Advisory Council and is the Massachusetts state chair of the Democratic Municipal Officials. Cheung is a 2012 recipient of an Eisenhower Fellowship and a partner of the Truman National Security Project.
- James Arena Derosa
James Arena DeRosa was born in Boston and raised in Walpole with his three sisters.
DeRosa attended Xaverian Brothers High School and graduated from Harvard University with a bachelor’s in anthropology. Shortly after graduating college, James became active in local Democratic politics and was trained by the United Farmworkers in community and campaign organizing. Additionally, DeRosa served for a few years as the Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Commonwealth.
He was the director of public advocacy at Oxfam America, and became the New England director of the Peace Corps under President Clinton, and in 2010, was appointed by the Obama Administration to be the northeast regional administrator for the USDA.
- Steve Kerrigan
Steve Kerrigan served as chief of staff to Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly and was also chief of staff and senior advisor to Boston 2004, Inc., where he worked with Mayor Menino and others to put on the 2004 Democratic National Convention.
For more than a decade, Kerrigan was an advisor and aide to Sen. Ted Kennedy as his political director, Massachusetts policy director and director of scheduling and advance. Kerrigan was most recently a co-chair of the Presidential Inaugural Committee, a post President Obama asked him to fill after a two-year stint as CEO for the 2012 Democratic National Convention Committee.
- Tom Conroy
Tom Conroy has served as the state representative for the 13th Middlesex District Since 2007,representing his hometown of Wayland, Sudbury and parts of Framingham and Marlborough. He is currently the chairman of the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development — having previously served as the vice chair of the Health Care Financing Joint Committee. In 2009 he was appointed to Governor Patrick’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Science Advisory Council.
He worked for two U.S. Senators, Gary Hart and Barbara Mikulski, ultimately serving as Mikulski’s foreign policy and national security assistant.
- Barry Finegold
Barry Finegold was raised in Andover and Tewksbury and attended public school in both towns. He attended Franklin and Marshall College in Pennsylvania where he graduated with a major in government and a business concentration. He returned to Andover, where he became the youngest person ever elected to the town’s board of selectmen in the town’s history at age 24.
A year later, in 1996, he won election to the Massachusetts House of Representatives as a Democrat representing the 17th Essex District.In 2009, he was named chairman of the joint committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy.
In 2010 Finegold was elected as the state senator, representing the Second Essex and Middlesex District. He has served as the Senate chairman of the Joint Committee on Election Laws since first being sworn into the Senate in 2011.
- Deb Goldberg
Deb Goldberg and her family built Stop and Shop, where Goldberg worked first as a retail clerk, and then moved onto executive positions within the company.
Goldberg served for six years on the Brookline Board of Selectmen, the last two as its chair. She is president of Adoptions With Love, is on the executive committee of The Center for Collaborative Education, and is on the Board of Health Care Associates, which manages the Physicians Group for Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital.
Attorney General candidates
- Maura Healey
Maura Healey has spent years fighting for justice, equal rights and expanded opportunity. Healey joined the Attorney General’s Office in 2007 after serving as a litigator in one of Boston’s most prominent law firms, WilmerHale (formerly Hale and Dorr), and as a special assistant district attorney in Middlesex County.
At the Attorney General’s office, Attorney General Coakley trusted Healey to head two prominent divisions in the state’s chief law enforcement office — the Public Protection & Advocacy Bureau and the Business & Labor Bureau. Earlier in her career, Healey served as chief of the Attorney General’s Civil Rights Division after serving as a private sector attorney, a Middlesex County prosecutor, and, for two years, as a starting point guard on a professional basketball team overseas.
- Warren Tolman
Warren Tolman served as state senator and state representative in the Massachusetts Legislature from 1991 to 1999. The seventh of eight children, Tolman was the first member of his family to graduate from college earning a degree in economics from Amherst College and a law degree from Boston College.
In 1998, Tolman was the Democratic nominee for Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor in the closest governor’s race in the country. And in 2002 he ran for the Democratic nomination for governor.
He has spent the last decade as a practicing attorney at the law firm of Holland and Knight and has also taught at Boston College Law School and Northeastern University School of Law.
This post is also available in: Chinese