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Khazei Promises Service-Driven Vision In Senate03:49
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Sprint To The SenateHe has been campaigning for a couple of weeks but has received less attention than some of the other candidates to succeed the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. On Thursday, City Year co-founder Alan Khazei makes a formal entrance into the field of Democratic candidates for that office.

Khazei is CEO of Be the Change, another Boston-based civic organization he founded, and a strong advocate of national service programs.

He joins Attorney General Martha Coakley, Congressman Michael Capuano and Boston businessman Stephen Pagliuca. On the Republican side, state Sen. Scott Brown and Canton Selectman Robert Burr have also formally announced.

All the candidates have until Oct. 20 to get 10,000 signatures before the Dec. 8 primary.

Khazei said he brings a track record of public service and wants to bring a new vision for government that focuses on an approach that will draw more civilians into service. Still, Khazei said he would not support compulsory public service because he believes that "if you make the opportunity available and you call people and you challenge them ... people will rise to the occasion."

One of the major issues that an interim senator could face is national health care reform. Khazei said he stands by President Obama's assertion that any reform should not increase the national deficit, but that the system needs to be reformed to bring down skyrocketing costs. He said the nation cannot afford not to overhaul health care.

As the Obama administration weighs troop increases in Afghanistan, Khazei said he would not support such increases unless he saw a broader vision from the administration about what the key objectives for the war are, what the strategy would be and how long it would take.

"We just can't have a military strategy. We need to have a comprehensive foreign policy strategy if we're going to succeed in Afghanistan," Khazei said.

While Khazei has not served in the U.S. military, he said he was drawn into public service by his upbringing — his father is a doctor and his mother, a nurse. Khazei started City Year in 1988 with his college roommate from Harvard University.

"I believe that if everyone gets in the game, if everyone does what they can, that more than anything else is how we're going to achieve our potential as a country."

WBUR's Kathleen McNerney compiled this report.

This program aired on September 24, 2009.

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