It was a room of familiar local faces yesterday morning as Newton Mayor Setti Warren greeted a crowd of supporters at American Legion Post 440 in Nonantum. Warren, Monday, held his campaign kick-off yesterday as he works for the Democratic nod to capture the seat held by the current junior U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, Scott Brown.
Much of Warren's stump speech mirrored that of his onday, with highlights of his work balancing budgets in Newton, serving as a naval intelligence officer in Iraq and the time spent working with former President Clinton and Massachusetts' senior U.S. Senator John Kerry.
The speech also focused on the hard work and service of Warren's father, Joe, and the obstacles faced by his family with the severe health problems and death of his 26-year-old sister Kara.
"Millions of Americans suffer through dreaded health care crises just like my family. That’s why I believe health care is a right," Warren said. "But it can’t continue to bankrupt our individuals, families, cities and towns."
Warren's wife Tassy, who is pregnant with the couple's second child, also spoke to the crowd assuring them of her support for the campaign and the success her husband would have in Washington.
"We need people like Setti in Washington," she said. "We need people that are straightforward and honest and work hard for what they believe in."
Following the speech, though, the swarm of media shifted focus toward Warren's role as mayor, and what it means both for his Senate campaign and the city some feel he is leaving behind.
"I am very confident the city will continue to move and be managed well; I have a fantastic team in place," Warren said during a press conference following his speech. "If there is ever at time I believe I cannot do both, I will re-examine it at that point."
Warren, who was elected mayor in the fall of 2009, said he plans to keep working on performance management and online resources in Newton as well as continue discussions with local unions as Newton works to balance budgets.
Regarding his political experience and how it matches up with that of Scott Brown, or any of his Democratic opponents, Warren said he has an important "skill set" that he has gained with his experience as mayor that will help him in Washington.
"Being a mayor in this tough economic environment, getting in there and digging down deep with my team and local elected officials, delivering services ... improving services in some areas and making some tough decisions around cuts -- that’s the kind of understanding and leadership that you want," Warren said
"I think mayors have a unique perspective on governing," Warren added.
As a relatively unknown candidate, questions also focused on whether Warren would be able to round up the funding sources to make an impact in the race. Turning focus away from the numbers, Warren says he plans to hit the streets and reach out to voters about the issues affecting the cities and towns in Massachusetts. Starting his campaign now, he said, was crucial to having time to get his name out.
Following his kick-off event, Warren headed to Brockton and New Bedford and is scheduled for a stop in Greenfield on Thursday.