Balancing praise with self-promotion in evaluating the pol you want to replace can be tricky. Today, Joseph Avellone managed that well. He is one of five Dems eager to follow Gov. Deval Patrick, who leaves who did not run again after eight years, two terms.
Avellone said Patrick “has created a very exciting and compelling vision for our commonwealth,” adding, “we don’t need a new vision.” Instead, he wants to continue and expand on Patrick’s drives for new industry, education improvement, and healthcare cost containment.
With an impressive and diverse résumé, Avellone has been surgeon, COO of Blue Cross/Blue Shield of MA, biopharmaceutical exec, and more. Click below to listen in as he describes how he’d build on Patrick’s work and layer on his own ideas.
We talked of his year-old Commonwealth Pledge he is driving, at first for Dem candidates and for all if he wins the primary. That would expand the People’s Pledge to include in-state PACs and lobbyists, effectively shutting off outside money from the campaigns. We got into an area of expertise and passion — healthcare cost control. We also spoke of his detailed education plans and his problem/solutions sets there from pre-K up. However, we did not have time for his Office of Recovery or energy and environment ideas. See his site’s Issues area for those.
Casual punditry makes it easy to downplay his chances. There are two holders of statewide office among the five Dems, two Republicans and two others in the running already. Despite visiting 130 MA municipalities, Avellone can’t have the name recognition yet. While he’s gotten endorsements from the likes of Worcester’s mayor and several Boston City Councilors, he’s still a dark horse.
Avellone wants voters (and donors and endorsers) to look on his 30 years of experience and accomplishment in medicine and business…as a doer. He points to thousands of jobs, particularly in his current executive position at Parecxel International, he claims to have helped create. He wants voters to view him as macher in the good sense; he gets things done.
He’s huge on education. He would devote his administration to narrowing or eliminating the achievement gap between all levels. That would start with pre-K. I could not get him to commit to universal pre-K and kindergarten, but his rattles off the lifetime achievement differentials between those with early education, early reading and later graduation rates and incomes. He would set up a fund for pre-K education and developmental programs…for underperforming schools.
Likewise, he is big on after-school enrichment and tutorial. While he knows all latchkey kids would benefit from programs that simultaneously teach and keep them productively occupied, that seems to be less of a priority than the broad-brush strokes for lower-performing schools.
Avellone is strong on STEM (science/technology/engineering/math) education. He cites many advantages and the concomitant drawbacks of readiness for skills in demand. He bemoans that MA falls short in interesting kids in STEM programs. He sees roles for both government and industry in goosing private, public, community and vocational schools in fostering STEM interest from secondary schooling on. We also agreed that work/study programs that Northeastern U. has pioneered should be replicated widely to help prepare students with real-world skills.
On the other practicality of higher education, he wants the commonwealth involved in keeping higher education affordable. He’d like MA to be able to fund half the cost for public colleges. He finds that a great counterpoint to making sure the schools understand what future employees really want, so the students can both pay for education and be prepared.
We had another difference in healthcare. He has considerable experience and expertise here. He did not look to single-payer has the solution to good outcomes at good costs, particularly in MA that has 98% of residents insured. Instead, he favors the Coordinated Care model, That has multiple medical pros managing patient populations, and getting away from the fee-for-services model in favor of keeping patients healthy first version.