LUNENBURG -- Well over 100 people spent time at the Harley House Sunday afternoon, listening to Republican gubernatorial hopeful Charlie Baker share his ideas on what should change in the Commonwealth.
Baker -- who appeared with lieutenant governor candidate Karyn Polito -- spoke to those on hand about reform and getting the state to "play by the same rules as the good people who live here."
"You deserve better," Baker told attendees during his 10-minute address. "I hope to take things in a different direction when I am elected."
Many in attendance embraced Baker's message of reform on several levels, including government spending, changes in childcare, and job creation.
"I think Charlie and Karyn have the right ideas to get things fixed," said Charlie Milhans of Leominster. "There are educational systems that seem to work that get kids better educated. We should think out of the box for keeping people engaged to keep people employed. They have the right ideas."
Lance May, a regional co-chairman for Baker's campaign, said that gatherings like Sunday's help give a candidate a sense of an area's political climate.
"He's hoping he'll get an idea of what kind of support there is for him," May said. "We've been putting out calls to a lot of people from four or five districts asking them to attend and it's looking like a pretty positive response."
Even skeptics, like Ralph Zazula, who runs the "Classical Liberal Radio Show" on WCAP, noted that Baker makes some compelling arguments.
"I like Charlie," Zazula admitted. "I'd love to see Charlie as governor, certainly more than Martha Coakley."
Baker touched on many subjects, but drew a rousing response when talking about reforming the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF), with the saga of Jeremiah Oliver -- the missing five-year-old from Fitchburg -- still fresh in everyone's minds.
"When the story first broke about Jeremiah Oliver, I was asked if I thought the commisioner should be fired and I said no. I was more concerned witht he safety and security of the kids in DCF care," Baker said. "I put out a five-point plan of what I thought they should do right away to help people understand what the state was doing and that they kids were safe.
"Then I waited and waited and waited and there wasn't any sort of plan like that. I got really concerned because the state was just kind of lurching from crisis to crisis. Eventually, I called for the commissioner to step down and for a new set of eyes to come in and do the type of reforms that I had been talking about."
Polito said she was "very excited to be running" with Baker and that "our state needs us."
"I promised Charlie I'd deliver Central Mass. on Nov. 4 (during the elections) and that's what I plan to do," said Polito, who served as a state representative for the 11th Worcester District.
Baker says he's ready to ramp up his campaign leading up to the Massachusetts Republican Party Convention on March 22, where he'll square off with fellow hopeful Mark Fisher. He noted that he had raised more funding than any Democrat and that things would only get busier and more productive from here.
And despite having fallen in a 2010 attempt to unseat Deval Patrick, Baker says he's back because of that experience.
"Having been through that election, I know the people of the state deserve better than how things have been," he said. "That's the reason I'm running again."