Grossman was chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic party and chairman of the National Democratic Party under President Bill Clinton.
In his introduction, State Representative Tom Calter of Kingston urged support for Grossman, saying: “When the going gets tough who do you want on that rostrum debating Charlie Baker next October? I suggest to you that there is only one good answer to that question: It’s a guy who has made a life of creating jobs, a man who has created a culture of helping people.”
Grossman began by talking about his views on being a Democrat, saying, “My political hero is the greatest president of the 20th century: Franklin Delano Roosevelt…Seventy-seven years ago in 1937, in the middle of the worst economic times this country has ever faced, Franklin Roosevelt stood in front of the American people in his second inaugural address and he said the following: ‘The test of our progress is not whether we will add more to the abundance of those who have much but whether we provide enough for those who have too little.’ ” He said that this philosophy is what makes him proud to be a Democrat.
“If there is a single friend, neighbor, or colleague who lacks economic opportunity, a job, or hope, then our job is not done,” he said. “That’s who we are.”
Grossman discussed the ideas he wants to implement as governor using the knowledge he has gained from his experience as a business owner. He wants to create 50,000 more manufacturing jobs in Massachusetts over the next five years. One way to do this is to “close the skills gap,” he said.
He also wants to invest in vocational-technical schools, adding that there are 50,000 vocational-technical students but the state only spends $1 million on the 64 schools. “That’s not enough,” he said.
Grossman toted his office’s Small Business Banking Partnership program in the Treasurer’s office as helping to get small business access to loans, which can assist with job growth. “Providing capital to small businesses can really make a huge difference,” he said.
Grossman feels strongly that workers should be able to earn sick time. He said that his family’s business has been a union shop for 62 years and that those workers have earned sick time.
Grossman took questions from the audience that ranged from local aid, to casinos, to veterans services. He said he is a fan of Massachusetts’ current governor Deval Patrick, but he disagrees with Patrick’s level funding of state aid. According to Grossman, the Lottery, which was created over forty years ago to provide financial help to cities and towns, has a $957 million profit and Patrick is only planning to disburse $921 million, the same amount as last year.
Grossman wants the entire amount used for local aid.
On the topic of casinos, Grossman said he supports the expansion of casino gambling in the state even though he recognizes the impact of gambling addiction on families. He is supportive of gambling because he said it will create 15,000 construction jobs, many more service industry jobs and will provide $300 million in revenue to the state, bringing back much of the money that Massachusetts residents already spend at casinos in Connecticut and Rhode Island.
Grossman said that if he’s elected, he will make the veteran’s services position a full cabinet position that reports directly to the governor. He said Massachusetts has “the best veterans’ services of any state in the country” as it offers a welcome-home bonus that awards returning veterans $1,000. Providing ongoing services to veterans, including programs on financial literacy, should be a priority, he said.
Grossman told the story of a time 17 years ago when he sat down with President Bill Clinton and asked him what was the most important thing he was trying to accomplish. Clinton said to him: “As president, I’m in the solutions business. I’m trying to solve problems to help people.”
“That’s what leadership is all about,” Grossman said.
The reception for Grossman ended on a sweet note. The treasurer, who loves ice cream, was disappointed to find that Duxbury’s famous ice cream shops were closed for the season. However, the disappointment was short lived when he was given a special ice cream cake and, as a remembrance of his time in town, a copy of The Duxbury Beach book, published in recent years by the Duxbury Beach Reservation.
Editor’s note: Representative Cutler is the former publisher of the Clipper, which is owned by the Cutler family.