President Biden’s Build Back Better initiative has been centered around a record amount of cash infused into state and local economies in an effort to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and rebuild systems of infrastructure in desperate need of improvement.

At this critical moment, Massachusetts State Senator and Lieutenant Governor candidate Eric Lesser thinks that his White House experience can be an asset in stewarding critically needed resources to from Washington to the Commonwealth and to communities like those on the SouthCoast.

Prior to being elected to the Massachusetts Senate, Lesser earned a Bachelor's degree in government from Harvard and a law degree from Harvard Law School. After his studies, Lesser worked on Barack Obama's historic 2008 presidential campaign. Lesser then worked in the Obama White House as Special Assistant to Senior Advisor David Axelrod. Lesser went on to serve as Director of Strategic Planning for the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

It's this experience at the highest level of federal government where Lesser distinguishes himself from the rest of the candidates in the field for Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor.

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“I had a desk 30 feet from the front door of the Oval Office," Lesser said when he joined me on air recently. “I think that experience is gonna be really valuable because you’re going to have President Biden still there when the next governor and lieutenant governor take over."

"We’re going to need a really proactive approach to getting all those funds, getting all those resources back into Massachusetts and getting shovels into the ground and momentum on issues like South Coast Rail, on issues like the fishing port and the work we’ve got to do with NOAA, on issues like offshore wind going and making sure New Bedford is one of the key developments for offshore wind development," he said.

Lesser holds several leadership positions in the Massachusetts Senate, including co-chairing the Gateway Cities Caucus along with New Bedford Rep. Tony Cabral. In this position, Lesser said he has visited New Bedford many times, including Mayor Jon Mitchell's recent State of the City address. Lesser said his experience representing gateway communities gives him an insight into many of the issues facing cities like New Bedford.

“I was struck actually listening to the State of the City how similar of so many of what both the opportunities and challenges are between a region like New Bedford and a region like Greater Springfield, where I come from," Lesser said. “And how important it is in state government to have that voice from the areas outside Boston really working to tie our state together and make sure that places New Bedford are really at the center of our decision-making.”

One of the key policies of Lesser's platform is closing the waitlist at the Commonwealth's vocational schools. Lesser said that giving vocational schools the resources needed to expand their student population and allow entrance to all student applicants on the waitlist at their respective vocational school to learn valuable and hirable trade skills will create robust job growth in gateway cities and throughout the Commonwealth.

“We could create 7,000 jobs literally tomorrow by closing the waitlists at our voc schools across the state," he said. “We’ve got thousands and thousands of vacant positions, high-paying jobs in machine tooling, advanced manufacturing, precision machining, across our state, especially in the New Bedford and in the South Coast, where we can get people to work right away if we get those lists closed.”

"These can be very high paying jobs that don't require a four year bachelor's degree or a master's degree or a Ph.D.," Lesser said. "Medical device manufacturing, making pacemakers, making components for vaccines, making biologics...We've got a booming industry around precision machining, especially as it relates to clean energy, making the components for solar panels, making the wind turbines for offshore wind, making the components for electric vehicle charges and for advance battery components. Almost all of these companies, almost all of these centers have vacant jobs, are posting and are desperate for workers. The demand is way out of what the supply is, but the schools are not keeping up with that demand."

We also talked about the sports gambling bill he sponsored that recently passed the Senate and other legislation that he has championed, the importance of transportation overhaul rail connectivity throughout the Commonwealth, and his time as an advisor for the Emmy-winning HBO political comedy Veep.

You can listen to the full conversation at the 20:45 mark below.

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