SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

October 28, 2010

Our View: Experience, expertise key to choosing constitutional officers


The lower constitutional offices have relatively little policy-making responsibility, but rather perform important semi-administrative functions on behalf of the commonwealth. Voters should want competent individuals in each post whose goal is to conduct operations as effectively and efficiently as possible.

For attorney general we recommend Democratic incumbent Martha Coakley who, after what seemed an almost halfhearted quest for higher office last January (she lost to Scott Brown in the special U.S. Senate election), appears more committed than ever to doing the best job possible in the state's top law-enforcement post.

Coakley, who has spent 25 years in the field and served as district attorney in busy Middlesex County before being elected to her current post, has been a tireless advocate for both the victims of crime and those who have fallen prey to consumer fraud.

Her office has been equally relentless in going after both those who would take advantage of the state's generous Medicaid program and the major providers of health care in the commonwealth. And she recently won plaudits and an endorsement from Essex County D.A. Jonathon Blodgett for her efforts to combat online predators.

Republican challenger Jim McKenna deserves credit for receiving enough write-in votes in last September's primary to get his name on the Nov. 2 ballot. But he has failed to make a convincing case for his candidacy, and the fact that his former bosses in both the Suffolk and Worcester district attorneys' office endorsed his opponent is telling.

Incumbent Secretary of State William Galvin has been a leader in the pursuit of investment fraud, and the various agencies under his purview (Elections Division, registries of deeds, the Massachusetts Historical Commission, etc.) are models in terms of customer friendliness. His Republican and independent challengers, on the other hand, have conducted virtual stealth campaigns and are not deserving of consideration.

We would have preferred Quincy's Timothy Cahill remain as state treasurer rather than pursue a long-shot candidacy for governor. He trails badly in the polls for the latter post, but his administration of the treasurer's office, including the Massachusetts Lottery and School Building Authority have been exemplary, and thus have not been raised as an issue in the current campaign.

Democrat Steve Grossman, seems best qualified to follow in that tradition. His extensive business experience as head of a family-owned company gives him a particular advantage, in our view, over Republican state Rep. Karyn Polito.

Finally, for auditor, our choice is Republican Mary Z. Connaugton, a certified public accountant with a demonstrated record of independence and experience in fiscal affairs that runs from her service on the Framingham Finance Commission to her membership on the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority's board of directors.