Kerrigan Touts Political Work in Lieutenant Governor Bid
Steve Kerrigan was in Pittsfield earlier this month to talk with the Berkshire Brigades.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Lieutenant governor candidate Stephen Kerrigan doesn't care if he has the nicest office.
He just wants to work the hardest.
Kerrigan is running for the seat after years of behind-the-scenes work with the late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, running two non-profits and being chairman of the Democratic National Convention and Presidential Inaugural Committees.
He was in Pittsfield recently to meet with the Berkshire Brigades, the countywide Democratic organization.
Kerrigan has been active in politics starting with the finance committee in his hometown of Lancaster when he was 24 years old. He had an internship in Kennedy'soffice and worked his way up to become a political aide. He later became the CEO of the 2012 Democratic National Convention and both the 2008 and 2012 inaugural committee.
It was in June 2012 when Kerrigan became jaded with politics. Politics had become focused on bickering, partisanship and meanwhile, it seemed no one in Washington was focusing on making things better for the towns and the communities, he said.
His hometown of Lancaster was still not back to the way it used to be when he was growing up — teachers had been laid off and streetlights shut off to save energy costs — and Kerrigan couldn't understand why people in Washington were doing what they were doing.
"I understood the frustration people had with Washington ... I decided to walk away from politics altogether. I was at peace with it because I understood why people were frustrated. They are frustrated because nobody is listening to them," Kerrigan said.
But then, he thought what his long-term mentor, Kennedy, would do. Knowing Kennedy the way he did, he knew the longtime senator would tell him to "go home, have a glass of wine, come in tomorrow and get back to work." Kerrigan decided that he wasn't going to give up but instead take a lead in changing things.
"I didn't want to just stay in politics but I wanted to put myself on the line," Kerrigan said, as to why he is now seeking the lieutenant governor seat.
With so much of his work history being behind the scenes, Kerrigan recognized that he wouldn't have a chance to win a gubernatorial bid. But, at the same time, he did have the qualifications to be a "good No. 2." He sees the lieutenant governor position as his way of influencing state government to become better.
"I want to get the job done. For me, it isn't about being in the nicest office in the corner of the building and being called governor. I want to be the person who works the hardest every day to get the job done," Kerrigan said.
If elected, Kerrigan says he wants his first task to be a complete review of the state's assets — the budget, tax programs and capital. He wants to bring in universities to analyze every aspect of the state's financial situation to find ways to be efficient because "we're at a point where we can't do this anymore."
"Before we go back to the taxpayers and ask for another nickle, we need to make sure our house is in order," Kerrigan said.
For example, tax incentives to help businesses grow are not carefully monitored to see how successful they are, he said, and some of that money could be repositioned toward infrastructure of other programs. Showing people that their resources are being used wisely and at "peak levels" is the first step toward regaining the people's trust in government, he said.
"I've seen government incredibly well, I've seen government work incredibly horrible," Kerrigan said, adding that it is his work with communities that has shown him that government can "fill in the gap."
Alongside Kennedy, he fought the General Electric closure and then with the company and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to make sure the city wasn't left "high and dry" when it came to the cleanup of the Housatonic River.
His work in the Berkshires and his own background coming from Central Massachusetts gives him a better understanding of the entire state, he said.
"I think it is important for the people of Massachusetts to have someone as lieutenant governor or governor who understands the entire commonwealth," Kerrigan said. "Yes, Boston is a huge economic engine but a huge chunk of what makes Massachusetts the amazing place that it is, that draws so many people here is what happens outside of Route 128."