NORTH ADAMS -- State Attorney General Martha Coakley was greeted by family, friends, supporters and former classmates at the Freight Yard Pub on Tuesday, as she made her final stop on the second day of her gubernatorial campaign announcement tour.
Those who came out to support the city native and her bid for governor expressed concerns about the economy, education and the need to give younger generations incentive to stay in the area.
"People feel a little more optimistic about the economy, but they're still struggling," Coakley said. " One of the things that is important to me and one of the reasons I'm running for governor, is to make sure that we continue to make progress on the economic front."
Sullivan Elementary School teachers Kristin Gilman and Joy DeMayo spoke with Coakley about the challenges teachers are facing as school budgets decrease and children's needs increase.
"She asked about our class sizes," Gilman said. "I have 21 students and Joy has 22 students. That's a lot of kids in a little room, especially with their individual needs."
The pair invited Coakley to visit the elementary school to experience the challenges first hand.
Coakley promised she'd be in touch to take the offer and also said she'd like to get input from them on what has been working when it comes to the state's education system.
"We have a great educational system here in the state," Coakley said. "We have to make sure that our kids ... have the skills and abilities to compete in a global economy."
Coakley, who graduated from Drury High School and Williams College, said education and the state's economy are interconnected with its ability to retain young families and individuals.
"One of the things we can do is make the connection between the education people are getting here, the jobs that are available here and the jobs we want here," she said. "We need our young folks. ... They need to be able to feel they can put down roots. ... We can do that."
Coakley also stressed the need to ensure Berkshire County and areas like it have the necessary infrastructure in place for transportation and communication needs, such as Internet access, to bring in new and maintain current businesses.
City residents Carol Luscier and Joe Bolus, who attended St. Joseph's High School with Coakley's sisters, said they came out to support her because they not only like her opinions, but also like the idea of having a local face in the governor's office.
"She'll make the rest of the state know we're here" Bolus said. "She's one of us. She's part of our history."
Coakley stressed her commitment to her hometown, as she spoke with supporters, which included her high school trigonometry teacher.
"I still think of North Adams as home," she said. "I'm particularly committed to Berkshire County, to working so everyone out here can be as successful as they can be."
Coakley, who continues her tour in the Merrimack Valley and along the North Shore today, joins a growing Democratic field of gubernatorial hopefuls, including state Treasurer Steve Grossman; Juliette Kayyem, a former homeland security official; Donald Berwick, former director of the federal Medicaid program; and biotechnology executive Joseph Avellone.
Republican Charlie Baker is also running for governor.
Coakley, who lost her 2010 campaign for the U.S. Senate against Republican Scott Brown, announced her candidacy for governor Sunday.
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