Massachusetts women will hold key power positions in coming year

By Upstateherd (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Madiha Gomaa
Boston University News Service

History will be made in January when Massachusetts inaugurates its new leaders. Secretary of State William Galvin will be the only man among the six constitutional offices, a reality that observers say sends a powerful message on the importance of the descriptive and substantive representation for the future of democracy. 

The Maura Healey/Kimberly Driscoll ticket represented the first time a major party in Massachusetts nominated two women for the top two statewide positions. And the number of women who won statewide offices this year marks a milestone in the commonwealth’s history. Only nine women have served in constitutional offices in 242 years.

The impact will also be felt at the federal level where Rep. Katherine Clark of Revere, will ascend to the second highest post among Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives, becoming minority whip as part of a change of leadership triggered by the decision of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to step down.

Observers say the arrival of women to electoral politics is to be celebrated as the democratizing of space traditionally occupied by wealthy men.

“This election may mark the breaking of a glass ceiling,” said Manuela Picq, lecturer in the Department of Political Science and Gender Studies at Amherst College.

Picq said that electing women shouldn’t be about bodies filling the identity politics box. The focus has to be on what they’re standing and advocating for, and their emancipatory agendas and networks connected to social feminist sectors. 

“We must not forget that women do not necessarily represent women and do not necessarily promote policies for women’s emancipation. There are many women in positions of power that have done little to break patriarchal structures, even consolidating them. Just look at female judges voting against reproductive autonomy,” Picq told the Sun Chronicle.  

Rekha Basu, a columnist at the Des Moines Register, agrees. She gave an example from Iowa, where they have elected a female U.S. senator and a female governor. And although the legislative offices [JB1] are held by women, they are all predominantly Republican, and their agenda is not about supporting women. 

“All of their policies have completely gone against the best interests of women. The Republicans in Iowa tend to be very much about home and family life for women and not wanting women to be in the workforce,” Basu said. “The mere election of women does not guarantee that they will represent the voice that women are asking for and need.”

However, the situation appears different for Massachusetts, where winning women candidates made it clear that they did and will continue to prioritize women’s rights and marginalized communities. Especially Healey, who ran her campaign on family care, education and abortion.

“I think what’s important about the election in Massachusetts is that it’s not just women, but also the first out lesbian and a black woman. These people are a much more diverse pool of candidates than before,” said Amrita Basu, a professor in sexuality, women’s and gender studies at Amherst College. 

A look at the Massachusetts women in statewide power

Maura Healy, governor 

Maura Healey became the state’s first elected female governor and the nation’s first openly lesbian governor. Her win also marks the flipping of the state’s top executive seat to a Democrat for the first time since Deval Patrick was reelected in 2010 and only the second time since Michael Dukakis’ reelection in 1986.

Healey beat Geoff Diehl, backed by former President Donald Trump, by a hefty margin. She won Boston with 63.5 percent of the vote to Diehl’s 34.8 percent. 

Born in 1971, Healey grew up the oldest of five brothers and sisters in Hampton Falls, NH. Her mother worked as a school nurse. Her father was a captain in the military and a civil engineer.

She majored in government at Harvard College, where she captained the basketball team, and then spent two years as a 5’4” starting point guard on a professional basketball team in Austria. She earned a Juris Doctor from Northeastern University School of Law. 

Healey began her legal career by clerking for Judge David Mazzone in the United States District Court in Massachusetts. In 2007, she served as chief of the civil rights division under former Attorney General Martha Coakley, where she spearheaded the state’s challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act. She was then appointed chief of the public protection and advocacy bureau and then chief of the business and labor bureau.

In 2014, she was elected the first openly gay attorney general in the country and was re-elected in 2018. She made the AG’s office the first statewide office to implement paid leave for families and established the office’s first-ever community engagement division to go out directly into communities, share resources, and empower people through education about their rights.

“Tonight, with the help of so many, we made history. I stand before you tonight proud to be the first woman and the first gay person ever elected governor of Massachusetts or any other state,” Healey told her supporters during her victory speech at the Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston. “Tonight, I want to say something to every little girl and to every LGBT person out there. I hope tonight shows you that you can be whatever, whatever, you want to be.”

Kimberley Driscoll, lieutenant governor

Kim Driscoll won the Democratic nomination to be the next lieutenant governor along with Gov.-elect Maura Healey. In a relatively sleepy race, Driscoll maintained the steady edge she held against Sen. Eric Lesser of Longmeadow and Rep. Tami Gouveia of Acton.

In 2006, Driscoll was elected as Salem’s first woman mayor and was re-elected four times before turning her sights to Beacon Hill for the state’s No.2 post. She announced she intended to run for Massachusetts’s lieutenant governor two months after she defeated former City Councilor Steve Dibble for a fifth term as mayor in November 2021.

Driscoll was born in 1966 in Hawaii. Her father, from Lynn, served in the United States Navy. Her mother was born in Grenada and raised in Trinidad. Driscoll moved to Salem in 1986. She went to Salem State University in 1989 to study government for her bachelor’s degree and earned a juris doctor from the Massachusetts School of Law in 1994. 

Driscoll served as chief legal counsel and then as deputy city manager of Chelsea for five years. She was a city councilor for the Fifth Ward in Salem before running for mayor. 

“This evening is 242 years in the making,” Driscoll said during her victory speech. “Today, Massachusetts voters stood proud, spoke with one powerful, clear voice and said: ‘It’s her time!'”

Andrea Campbell, attorney general

Andrea J. Campbell made history in becoming Massachusetts’s first Black woman attorney general and the first Black woman elected statewide. She handily defeated her opponent Republican Jay McMahon, a Cape Cod attorney and a supporter of former President Donald Trump. She led the state’s top prosecutor race by a considerable margin — 700,902 to 402,387, receiving 81 percent of the vote in Boston.

Campbell worked as an employment lawyer before entering public service as general counsel to the Metropolitan Area Planning Commission and later serving as counsel to Gov. Deval Patrick. She sat on the Boston City Council from 2016 to 2022, serving two years as Council president. In 2020, she ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Boston, finishing third in a preliminary[JB1]  election.

Campbell grew up in Roxbury, bouncing between foster care and relatives’ homes. She lost both of her parents and brother relatively early in life. She attended Boston Public Schools, including Boston Latin School, before attending Princeton University and UCLA School of Law.

She dedicated her historic win to the marginalized.

“For those of you who have felt unseen, this victory is for you. For those who have felt left out and left behind, and undervalued. This victory is for you. Thank you,” said Campbell in her victory speech at the Fairmont Copley Plaza.  

Deborah B. Goldberg, state treasurer 

Deborah Goldberg became the second-longest-serving treasurer in Massachusetts history after she easily won her third four-year term as the state’s treasurer, a post she’s held since 2015. She defeated Cristina Crawford of Sherborn, a little-known Libertarian candidate, receiving nearly 77 percent of the vote.

The Brookline Democrat ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2006, finishing second in a three-way race to then-Worcester Mayor Tim Murray with 33% of the vote. 

Goldberg, born in 1954, was a member of the Brookline Board of Selectmen from 1998 to 2004, serving the last two terms as chair. She was also the Massachusetts senate president’s appointee to the Treasurer’s Commonwealth Covenant Fund. Before that, she worked for her family business; Stop & Shop, rising from retail clerk to several executive positions within the company. She is a graduate of Boston University, Boston College Law School, and Harvard Business School.

As treasurer, Goldberg oversees the state’s cash and debt management. She also chairs the Massachusetts School Building Authority, the Pension Reserves Investment Management Board, the State Retirement Board and the Massachusetts State Lottery. 

“Thank you to my family and friends, my team, and everyone throughout Massachusetts for your tremendous support. It is an honor to be your Treasurer,” said Goldberg in a tweet after winning the treasurer seat. 

Diana DiZoglio, state auditor 

Diana DiZoglio will be the second woman ever to hold the title of state auditor. She will succeed longtime state Auditor Suzanne Bump who served in the position since 2011. In a five-way race, Democrat and former state senator DiZoglio took almost 55% of the state vote, defeating Republican Anthony Amore, the only statewide candidate endorsed by outgoing Gov. Charlie Baker. 

DiZoglio served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives for six years before being elected to the State Senate in 2018. She is currently in her second term as a state senator for the 1st Essex District, representing several towns and cities along or near the North Shore, including Amesbury, Haverhill, Methuen, Newburyport and North Andover.

Born in Methuen in 1983, DiZoglio was a student at Massachusetts public schools and went to Middlesex Community College. She later earned a financial scholarship to Wellesley College.

As a state auditor, DiZoglio will be responsible for vetting all state entities and related activities at least once every two years and creating audits that evaluate state vendors, agencies and departments. “We the survivors prevailed tonight,” DiZoglio said in her victory speech. “It is our voices and our struggles that will now be reflected and uplifted.”

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