Big Crowd Cheers Barrett at State Representative Campaign Kickoff
The former mayor is one of four Democrats running for the nomination to fill the unexpired term of deceased 1st Berkshire District state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi, who died earlier this summer.
On Oct. 10, Barrett will face Lisa Blackmer, Stephanie Bosley and Kevin Towle in a primary for the right to take on presumptive Republican nominee Christine Canning in November's general election.
"Tonight is the night we can start the process of electing the strong voice that we need in Boston," Barrett's campaign manager Peter Mirante told an enthusiastic crowd of upward of 200 supporters in introducing the former longest tenured mayor in the commonwealth.
"Each of the candidates in this race are good people, but we have to take a step back and ask ourselves: Of the four, who has the best credentials to get the job done? We believe that person is John Barrett."
The theme of credentials and experience was repeated moments later when the candidate took his turn at the microphone.
"In the old days, when I first ran for public office, I always said, 'We need new voices, we need a new way of doing things,' " Barrett said. "Now, I say we need experience. We need experience down there at this particular time, and that's what I want to bring you.
"I also believe with the relationships I've built up on both sides of the aisle — I've always been an independent thinker."
Barrett drove home a few key issues in his speech, starting by assailing a state budget that takes money out of Berkshire County to benefit public transportation in and around Boston.
"There's no reason why 16 percent of the sales tax people pay in Berkshire County goes down to run the MBTA in Boston," he said. "Thirty million dollars leaves this county every year to run a bankrupt, poorly managed operation to run their public transit while we have to cut ours in Berkshire County."
Barrett also returned to a theme he touched on in his campaign announcement in July: the failure of the state to adequately fund public education as promised in the Education Reform Act of 1993. He specifically blamed that failure for last spring's decision to close the elementary school in Cheshire, one of the towns in the 1st Berkshire District.
Barrett also singled out the Town of Adams, saying that he would work to advance development of the Greylock Glen so it could be an economic engine for that community that the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art has become in the Steeple City.
Mirante reminded the audience of Barrett's role in making Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art a reality.
"In his 26 years as mayor of North Adams, he rejuvenated North Adams after it had hit rock bottom," Mirante said. "Without his strong political leadership, Mass MoCA would have never happened. When Sprague [Electric] left Marshall Street, all that was left was 29 empty buildings and an empty parking lot.
"Today, those buildings are all filled, as well as the parking lot. Hundreds of new jobs and hope for North Adams and Northern Berkshire."
Perhaps Barrett's biggest applause line of the night came when he repeated his pledge to follow through on one of Cariddi's initiatives, a bill to address the problem of robocalls and predatory telemarketers.
"Now they're stealing your phone numbers and using them to mask their telemarketing calls," Barrett said. "That's identity theft. I want to know why no one's doing anything about it, so I got on the phone the other day and called the Attorney General's Office, and they said they're going to take a look at it. I also called Congressman Neal's office and said maybe the FCC can start taking a look at this.
"Gail Cariddi filed a bill … that said you cannot make a call without identifying who is calling. It didn't get out of the state Legislature. It will get out of the state Legislature if I'm elected state representative, I can tell you that."
Among the large crowd at Wednesday's event were three candidates on the ballot for this fall's city election: City Council candidate Marie T. Harpin and mayoral candidates Thomas Bernard and Robert Moulton Jr. The preliminary election for mayor is Sept. 19. The general election is Nov. 7.
But Barrett emphasized to his supporters Wednesday that Oct. 10, the day of the primary for the House special election, is critically important.
"I thought my last rodeo was two years ago, I really did," Barrett said, referring to his unsuccessful 2015 bid to return to the corner office at City Hall. "We lost that election not because we didn't have a good campaign or a good message but just because people forgot to come out.
"That's why this election is all about getting out the vote. It's the day after Columbus Day. It's not going to be the first thing on the minds of people when they get up that morning. And one of the reasons I decided to [run] is that I felt as though I have the strongest, most loyal group of people not only in North Adams but in the entire North Berkshire Area. And, you know what, you're just average, regular people.
"If the people of this district want a voice that's going to speak for the majority that is here and has been silent for too long, I want to be your representative and give you your voice in Boston. It's about time they heard from you."
Tags: 1st Berkshire, Democratic Party, election 2017, primary, special election, state representative,
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