Gubernatorial candidates hold a forum in Western Mass - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Gubernatorial candidates hold a forum in Western Mass

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The five Democratic candidates for Massachusetts governor visited Western Massachusetts on Saturday afternoon.

Joe Avellone, Don Berwick, Martha Coakley, Steve Grossman and Juliette Kayyem were on hand for the College Democrats of Massachusetts state convention, which was held at the Davis Ballroom on the campus of Smith College.

The group, which has campaigned in the past for senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, said Saturday's forum was a history-making event.

"This is the first time we're getting them here on our home turf here at Smith College for our spring convention," said Will Poff-Webster, president of the College Democrats. "So we're excited to put some questions to them, hear about the issues that they care about and how it connects to what students care about."

As for the candidates, CBS 3 asked each of them what it meant to take part in Saturday's forum, in front of about 100 college-age voters.

"Education is such an important part of Massachusetts," said Avellone. "The ability to be involved in an educational setting gives us a sense of a big part of our state, so I'm very pleased to be here."

"The obligation of the next governor is to ensure that we provide a state where they get the best education, that they're not burdened by debt, that they can have affordable housing and get jobs," said Kayyem.

"It's really exciting," Berwick stated. "This is the future. A lot of the progressive message that I bring in this campaign has tremendous resonance here. I'm really excited to be here."

"They know there's income inequality," said Coakley. "They know that we need to address climate change. I'm hoping some of them will be able to solve the rest of the problems that we don't get at this stage of the game."

"Grassroots activism is how we win campaigns," said Grossman. "You don't find more exciting, more energetic, more passionate grassroots activists than the men and women in this room."

All of the candidates said they were feeling positive as the Democratic convention approaches this summer in Worcester.

They will need 15 percent of the delegates to get on September's primary ballot.

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