State Sen. Benjamin Downing with colleague Sen. Barry Finegold, who is now seeking the treasurer's office, at a meet and greet Friday.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — State Sen. Barry Finegold doesn't want the state's pension funds invested in fossil fuels.
Sure, he can support a bill to do that. But Finegold says he wanted to do even more with the pension system.
So he is running for treasurer.
"I want to make sure we are responsible and I want our pension funds to reflect our values. Instead of investing in companies like Exxon Mobile, we should invest in green tech and renewable companies," the Andover Democrat said on Friday, when he met with members of the Berkshire Brigades at Juice and Java on South Street.
After four years in the state Senate, Finegold is looking to fill the shoes of Treasurer Steve Grossman, who is running for governor. Finegold says through the office, he can make a bigger impact on the entire state.
"You have the ability of an office to do a lot for so many people. Whether it is financial literacy, whether it is School Building Authority, pension funds, abandoned property, Cultural Council, it is a very important position that has a lot of influence," Finegold said.
The treasurer also oversee things like the revenues from the Lottery system, which in turn get passed on to the cities and towns.
"It is a huge generator of revenue to local communities. It is a lot. Places like Pittsfield and the surrounding communities depend on local aid and the Lottery drives a lot of money back to the communities."
The treasurer chairs the School Building Authority and Finegold says he'll try to find ways to smooth the process for town's looking to build and advocate for even more funding.
"I want to have one of the most robust school building authorities in the country. The elementary school I went to is still in the same shape it was when I went there in the '70s. If we are serious about giving people 21st-century education, we have to have schools that are 21st century," he said.
He also wants to boost financial literacy across the state because "we have way too many people losing their houses to foreclosure and bankruptcy."
And Finegold believes he has the qualifications to truly make an impact on the job and do it well. He went from living in the Georgetown Housing Projects to Beacon Hill. His parents were living in the Hyde Park project when he was young and the family moved to Andover when his father took a job as a teacher at Northern Essex Community College. His mother was a special education teacher.
"My family moved out from the Georgetown Housing Projects so I tell people, I wasn't a rich kid. I wasn't a poor kid. I was truly middle class. I worked for everything I had and worked my way through college and law school," Finegold said.
From there he moved to Pennsylvania to attend Franklin & Marshall College. He returned to Massachusetts to earn his law degree at the Massachusetts School of Law.
Only a year after college, at age 29, he started a firm that has grown to employ 25 people.
In 1992, he heard former President Bill Clinton speak and it inspired him to get into politics. He was elected to the Andover Board of Selectmen. Shortly after, he was elected to the state House of Representatives. Four years ago, he was elected to the Senate. He later attended John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
"I think it is a position where you can do so much good for so many people," Finegold said of now seeking the treasurer position. "My background with the private sector and the public sector, I feel like I can do a great job."
In the Senate, Finegold spent a lot of time on environmental issues. He says he is a "big proponent of renewable energies" including solar, wind and thermal. He is currently chairing a committee seeking election reform, which he hopes will allow early voting and same-day registration.
In January, he launched his campaign for the treasurer and says he has receive a lot of support from mayors and state officials.
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