Ed MacDonald speaks with supporters during Thursday's campaign kickoff dinner at the American Legion in North Adams.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — When Ed MacDonald ran for state representative for 1st Berkshire District 22 years ago, his highest level of education was a general educational development degree.
He heard it from his critics.
"They told me I was a man with an empty suit," MacDonald said. "So I said that when I come back next time, I'll come back with everything."
More than two decades after his defeat, MacDonald, of Adams, has again thrown his hat into the race for state representative. He will square off against David Bissaillon, also of Adams and Gail Cariddi of North Adams in the Democratic primary on Sept. 14, to determine the successor to state Rep. Daniel E. Bosley, D-North Adams, who served in the position for 12 terms.
MacDonald held his official campaign kickoff event Thursday afternoon at the American Legion. The three-hour dinner was a meet-and-greet opportunity for MacDonald's supporters, with all proceeds going to the American Legion baseball league.
After MacDonald's bid fell short in 1988, he was driven to attain the credentials needed to be a strong candidate. He has since earned an associate's degree from Berkshire Community College, a bachelor's from Emerson College, a master's degree in urban and environmental studies from Rensselaer (N.Y.) Polytechnic Institute and a master of business administration from the University of Massachusetts.
MacDonald is particularly proud of his bachelor's from Emerson, considering the great lengths he went to earn it.
"I drove 68,000 miles," said the former Adams selectman. "I drove from Adams to Boston every day for two years, and I finished fifth in my class out of 590."
There was a steady stream of residents at MacDonald's campaign kickoff, which lasted from 4 to 7.
MacDonald, who is currently the town administrator of Chester, said his experience in various fields of government separate him from the other candidates.
"I paid my dues. I'm well diversified," he said. "If you sit down and put us all on paper, who has more background, more information of how government works? That's the difference. I can call someone anywhere in the state and get something done."
If elected, MacDonald said his top priority will be jobs, his second will be taxes and third will be education. He said he'll have a conservative approach to spending, utilizing what he calls "smart dollars." As an example of how he can effectively manage finances, he said that he helped turn a $380,000 deficit in Chester last year into an $80,000 surplus this year.
"We've got to look at every dollar, every expenditure that the state has and make sure that the spending is going to the right places," he said.
According to MacDonald, 74 percent of business growth in Massachusetts comes from small industry, and he is alarmed with the amount of small companies going under in Berkshire County.
"Massachusetts is only giving a one-year roll-off, while the feds give you three years," he said. "So if [Massachusetts] businesses have a bad year, they don't get to roll it over the three-year period. We need to tighten up those issues."
For more information of MacDonald's background and his campaign platform, visit his website.