Juliette Kayyem, former Homeland Security official, announces run for Mass. governor

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Democrat Juliette N. Kayyem, a former Obama administration homeland security official, today announced in a YouTube video that she is running for governor in 2014.

Kayyem, a 44-year-old former Boston Globe editorial page columnist is the first woman to jump into the growing Democratic field seeking to succeed Governor Deval Patrick. She said her gubernatorial bid will draw on her experience in homeland security to help Massachusetts to focus on the future in key areas, including education, technology and the environment.

“It’s really about not wishing for the past, not thinking about what might have been, but how Massachusetts should be — and preparing for that. And that’s what I’ve done all my career,’’ she said in an interview today.


Kayyem, a former assistant secretary for intergovernmental affairs at the Department of Homeland Security under President Obama, added that she had “managed and led in really difficult circumstances.’’

Like other Democratic contenders for governor, she said she would focus on job creation, healthcare and schools. “The what is not really debatable anywhere, it’s really how: how do we solve the problems of today for the kind of future we want to build?’’

In a half-hour telephone interview with the Globe, she said that her campaign will focus on integrating technology into education; developing the state’s infrastructure, from ports to broadband to clean energy; and focusing on how to make the state adaptable to the consequences of climate change.

“Any governor who is going to lead in the next four, eight years has to take climate adaptation exceptionally seriously: we are a coastal state,’’ she said.

Prior to being appointed to the Obama administration, Kayyem served under Governor Deval Patrick as undersecretary for Homeland Security.

A Cambridge resident and a mother of three, she joins a field of four other Democrats vying for their party’s nod in the race to succeed Patrick, who has said he is not running for re-election in 2014. They are Treasurer Steven Grossman, State Senator Daniel A. Wolf, former Obama administration health care official Donald M. Berwick, and biotechnology executive Joseph Avellone.


Other potential Democratic candidates include Attorney General Martha Coakley, Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone, and US Representative Michael E. Capuano.

Kayyem was born in Los Angeles, is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School and has been a lecturer at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. She resigned Tuesday as a columnist for the Globe’s editorial page andrecently left her position as a contributor to CNN, where she had been a frequent television presence discussing homeland security issues.

Kayyem appeared relatively well-versed on the debates that have roiled Beacon Hill in recent months and years.

She said she supported the essence of the Legislature’s recent transportation finance package, which raised taxes to help pay for the state’s aging transportation infrastructure.

But, Kayyem said, she would favor the repeal of the new tax on certain computer software services. That software services tax is strongly opposed by an influential swath of the business community in Massachusetts, which says it will hurt the state’s technology sector.

“I think the complaints are pretty valid at this stage,’’ she said.

Kayyem said she would seek to replace the revenue from that tax with another source of revenue, perhaps a “different kind of tech tax.’’


On charter schools, Kayyem left herself some wiggle room, but said she would support raising “the cap for school districts that have long waiting lists.’’

She said she supported casino gambling in the state, which would be part of the financial landscape for whomever succeeds Patrick.

“Casinos are now a reality for how the state has budgeted for the next ten years,’’ she said.

In her announcement video, she distilled down her campaign’s message, almost to a slogan.

“I am not a career politician. I don’t believe in luck, I believe in preparedness,’’ Kayyem said. “I will make sure that Massachusetts is ready for whatever comes our way.’’


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