Congratulations, Maura Healey.
On Thursday, you become the 73rd person to serve as the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ governor, or the “supreme executive magistrate,” as the state constitution calls it.
Your term is already historic. You are the first woman elected governor of Massachusetts and only the second woman to serve in the office. And you are the state’s first openly gay governor and only the second elected in the country.
But we are hoping your term as governor will be memorable and meaningful for its accomplishments.
In recent days, we have already mentioned two priorities: Pushing through meaningful tax relief and making state government more transparent by making the executive, legislative and judicial branches subject to the public records law.
Here are four other priorities we’d like to see you accomplish during your time in the corner office:
Fix the schools
Perhaps no other institution sustained as much damage from the COVID-19 pandemic than our schools. Test results show our students’ education suffered a substantial setback after classes shut down in March 2020 and remote learning became the norm. Anecdotal evidence indicates that children’s social progress was equally damaged.
Our students and teachers need help, especially with tutoring for those most seriously impacted by the school closings. Low-income students without the resources or adult support to meet the challenges of remote learning should be the focus of your assistance to our schools.
Fix the TYour predecessor, Republican Charlie Baker, had promised to do just that. And while he has overseen some improvements to the MBTA including the purchase of new cars, thousands of feet of new tracks, a project that will bring commuter rail to the South Coast and the long-awaited Green Line extension into Medford, much more clearly needs to be done.
Since the fall of 2021, two people have died on MBTA property, dozens have been injured and the state was embarrassed when an Orange Line train carrying hundreds of passengers burst into flames while crossing the Mystic River.
It has grown so bad that federal officials have taken on nearly unprecedented oversight of the T.
Too many people — including hundreds in the Attleboro area — and too much of the state’s economy depend on the MBTA to allow this to continue. Improvements must be made, and soon.
Affordable housingSignificant reform has been approved by the Legislature and your predecessor to allow Massachusetts residents to continue living here, despite some of the nation’s highest housing costs.
It falls on your administration to enforce it, especially in communities susceptible to NIMBY-ism.
This problem may be best solved by having the governor herself champion the cause, persuading reluctant local officials that providing affordable housing is good for their communities.
Follow the example
In recent months, you have said you admire Baker and hope to carry on his leadership style. We think that would be terrific.
Baker’s eight-year tenure was marked by his handling of unexpected crises, from historic storms that buried much of the state under several feet of snow to the deadly Lawrence gas explosions to the recent COVID pandemic.
With a calm but forceful manner, he was able to steer the state and reassure the public that he had things under control.
Most of all, he put the people above his party, a rare political quality these days. And voters rewarded him, making him the nation’s most popular governor in poll after poll, even though he is a Republican in a liberal, Democratic state.
The people of Massachusetts would welcome a continuation of that leadership style. And it is likely to help you gain support for your priorities — which we hope will include some of ours.
Best wishes, Gov. Healey.