By Bree Sison, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – Five candidates for Massachusetts governor spent the early part of Saturday trying to win over some 700 members of the Service Employees International Union.

The SEIU State Council hosted a Candidate Forum at its offices in Dorchester to assist in deciding who to endorse during the campaign. The union invited all 10 candidates but the five who showed are all Democrats.

With 90,000 members across the Bay State, SEIU’s endorsement carries some perks – such as a massive volunteer base.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Kim Tunnicliffe reports

Kilra Hylton is active with the union and translates her membership to political responsibility.

“I’m just primarily knocking on doors and trying to get people involved because everybody cares about their community,” said Hylton.  “But they don’t realize if they’re not active, they don’t have a voice.”

The event was also streamed live over the Internet as the candidates fielded questions on issues ranging from health care to criminal justice system reforms.

“You’re able to see people side by side, see their answers, watch their body language,” said member Christine Crean. “I think the more specific, the more passionate, someone was on an issue, for me that’s very compelling.”

Each attending member filled out a “report card” on the forum, grading each candidate to help the executive committee decide who gets the endorsement.

Executive Vice President of SEIU 1199, Veronica Turner, said she expects an endorsement within the next two weeks.

The group previously endorsed successful candidates Barack Obama, Deval Patrick and Elizabeth Warren.


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