Massachusetts Attorney General and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley said her life’s devotion to public service and preserving “fairness” and “equality” on behalf of Massachusetts residents makes her worthy to assume the governorship later this year.

Speaking during a roundtable discussion hosted by the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service at Suffolk University Law School, Coakley pointed to her prosecution of some of the state’s biggest criminals, her successful challenge of the Defense of Marriage Act and the recovery of hundreds of millions of dollars for Bay State taxpayers as the commonwealth’s chief law enforcement officer.

Martha Coakley talking at table

Gubernatorial qualities

“This is what you need in a governor, someone who will take on those fights - for fairness, for equality, for the kind of opportunity to take part in what I hope will be Massachusetts’ future,” Coakley, a Democratic candidate, said during the Rappaport Roundtable discussion.

“I got in this race because I think I can be a good governor. I know that I have to prove that to everybody and I’m out every day working - in schools, in dining rooms, in diners - and I’m talking to folks about it,” added Coakley, who unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts in 2010. “The thing that has energized me in this race is that people across this commonwealth feel that there’s a good future here in Massachusetts.”

Coakley, the fifth speaker in the Rappaport Roundtable series, said the next governor of Massachusetts needs to lead a state that is both “prosperous and fair” by revitalizing a slowly-rebounding economy, transforming school systems into places where every child can be safe and have opportunities to compete in the global economy, and fighting to keep health care costs down by providing for more primary care and prevention and moving away from a fee-for-service model.

Martha Coakley at table with Professor Al Roberts

Mental health issues

Coakley added the state now has the “opportunity” to reduce the stigma around mental and behavioral health by providing greater access to care. To solidify her point, an emotional Coakley referenced her younger brother Edward’s suicide as a result of suffering from depression and not taking medication out of fear of being stigmatized.

“I believe in Massachusetts with our science, with our health care, with our understanding that behavioral disorders should be treated no differently than diabetes or asthma that we can reduce that stigma, whether it’s third grade or high school students or our returning veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder,” Coakley said. “That is one of our great challenges in health care, and Massachusetts can once more lead the way in that battle.”

Coakley, a Medford resident, has been the state’s Attorney General since 2007. From 1999 to 2007, she served as district attorney for Middlesex County.

“When I graduated from law school, my dad gave me a plaque that said, ‘Sometimes the best man for the job is a woman,’ and I would like to be that, your next governor,” Coakley said.

The Rappaport Roundtable series, made possible by the support of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, gives candidates opportunities to introduce themselves and their ideas, outline their priorities and discuss pressing policy issues affecting the commonwealth today, in 2015, and beyond.

To read more about the Rappaport Roundtable discussion with Coakley, visit the Media Resources press release.