October 19, 2005
Who wants to be LG?
Finally, here's my rundown of our conversation with Lieutenant Governor candidate Andrea Silbert.
Her background in micro-entrepreneurship is certainly interesting. The kind of ground-level economic development that she has done requires dealing with any number of issues that define our attitudes and aspirations as a society: Who gets opportunity? Who is left out? How does one set up small businesses -- and by extension their communities -- for success?
Silbert has concentrated especially on underserved populations -- women and "people of color". She describes this as a central and natural choice for her: "It's a moral value... It's fundamental to who we are as Democrats and who I am." Her work as a "social entrepreneur" is small-d democratic, aspiring to make use of everybody's skills and talents, regardless of status. She spent three years in Latin America dealing with small-scale economic development under conditions certainly more dire than anything we have in the Bay State. She describes her decision to run for Lieutenant Governor as a logical next step in her work, moving from a micro- to a macro-level.
How does a Lieutenant Governor accomplish those goals? Given the lack of a strict job definition, can an LG be something of a free agent diplomat of the administration? Silbert sees herself as a liaison between state government and the private sector, with an emphasis on economic development of the urban areas outside of route 495: Worcester, Pittsfield. She touts her connections with venture capital firms to encourage job development in these areas. She is close to Deval Patrick and says she has a "nice relationship with Tom Reilly", and says she would feel comfortable working with either as governor. [Reilly may have his own ideas about a "running mate."]
Of course, I had to ask her about health care. She ingenuously asked for my thoughts on the issue; I said I supported the MassACT/Health Care for All bill. She professes not to be a health care expert, but is certainly familiar with spiraling health care costs: after benefits and taxes, a $25,000/year position becomes $40,000 in a heartbeat. With surprising openness, she briefly discussed her own not-entirely-stable situation with health insurance. It just goes to show how the issue cuts across all socio-economic levels. She is concerned that statewide health care plans not be onerous to small employers.* Small business is absolutely on the front lines of the health care debate -- her perspective and voice in the debate would be very welcome indeed.
Now, we also discussed fundraising and political viability a bit -- I have to say that I'm really not interested in the expectations game at this early stage. The candidates have to make their impressions, and I think we observers should let the chips fall where they may. I think we're still at a point where if you like a candidate, write a check.
But relevant to both politics and economic development, Silbert professes to actually enjoy fundraising. "It's an opportunity to share a vision, and give people a chance to invest in that vision."
*(By the way, I've heard John McDonough of Health Care for All speak about that exact issue: It's my distinct impression that the MassACT bill is structured so that it does not impose onerous mandates on small employers. From our interview with him: "small businesses (fewer than 100 workers) and their workers will be eligible for subsidies and support to make insurance purchase affordable." See here for more info.)
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Thanks for taking this on. It's amazing how little we can glean from the MSM on aspirants to this (potentialy) important office.
Posted by: lenstewart | Oct 20, 2005 8:10:22 AM
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