Former Massachusetts state Sen. Ben Downing laughs Monday at Constitution Beach in East Boston. Credit: Elise Amendola / AP

BOSTON — Former Massachusetts state Sen. Ben Downing on Monday became the first Democrat to formally announce a run for governor in 2022.

Downing, 39, said he wants to build “a fairer, stronger Massachusetts,” because current leadership has shown a “lack of urgency” to adequately address the coronavirus pandemic, racial inequity and climate change. He said he will also prioritize child care, affordable higher education and transit investment.

Current Republican Gov. Charlie Baker has not formally announced whether he would seek a third term. At least two other Democrats are exploring bids.

Democrats missed opportunities to defeat Baker during the 2014 and 2018 elections by focusing too much on his status as a Republican and not on his policies, Downing said Monday.

“We need a more honest debate,” Downing said.

Downing pointed to Baker’s recent decision to twice veto a sweeping climate change proposal that has overwhelming support in the Democratic-controlled Legislature. The most recent veto occurred Sunday.

Baker has said he supports much of the bill, but returned it to lawmakers with a list of proposed amendments.

“I think the governor has missed what has been the most scarce resource in that debate, which is time. We don’t have time to waste,” Downing said, faulting Baker for taking “a narrow view of looking at the cost of the proposal and not looking at the cost of doing nothing.”

Downing said “there is so much more we could be doing to close income gaps, close wealth gaps.”

Downing, a Pittsfield native who currently lives in Boston, spent 10 years representing dozens of western Massachusetts communities in the Senate before stepping down in 2017. He has spent his time since as a vice president at Nexamp Inc., a Boston renewable energy company.

Downing’s father is late Berkshire District Attorney Gerard Downing. He earned an undergraduate degree from Providence College in 2003 and received a master’s degree in urban and environmental policy and planning from Tufts University in 2008.