Kerrigan Boasting Experience In Bid For Lt. Gov.
Steve Kerrigan ate lunch with his dog Cooper at the Marketplace Cafe on North Street in Pittsfield on Friday.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Steve Kerrigan remembers being on the phone with former Mayor Gerald Doyle trying to figure out how to give the city a chance to survive its largest economic collapse — the closure of General Electric.
"We spent two years working with the EPA, the city, state DEP and with General Electric to make sure that we pumped the brakes a little bit and thought about what was right for the community, the environment, and economic growth," Kerrigan said during an interview on Friday.
"We came up with the consent decree that we signed. That allows for the development at the G.E. facility that PEDA is working on now. Imagine if we hadn't done that. There would be double-lined fencing around that whole facility and God only knows what would happen."
If G.E. had just walked away, Kerrigan said, there wouldn't have been a cleanup and the city wouldn't have control over what is known as the William Stanley Business Park. Kerrigan was a legislative aid for the U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy then and he says "we got [G.E] to the table and kept them there."
It was also in the 1990s when word spread that Crane & Co. was about to lose the contract to make U.S. currency. Kerrigan was called in to help negotiate that contract and keep the money flowing in Dalton. He worked with Soldier On to get funding for that start up and he was part of the team putting together the federal appropriation to redevelop the Colonial Theater.
Now, Kerrigan is pointing to his career bringing people together both on the federal level for Kennedy, on the state level for former Attorney General Tom Reilly and on the municipal level as a finance committee and board of selectmen member in Lancaster as why voters should elect him as lieutenant governor.
"I have spent 25 years working as a local elected official — not studying local governments — in my town, facing my family and friends to talk about the issues that are important to them and prioritizing budgets in a real, strong way," Kerrigan said.
"I've worked all across Massachusetts and the country under Sen. Kennedy fighting to raise the minimum wage in the 90s — not just when it was a ballot initiative and we knew it was going to get passed. We fought for years on the federal level. We fought for funding like here with the Colonial Theater so we can rehab beautiful buildings like that."
Outside of that, Kerrigan founded two nonprofit organizations, headed the Boston Democratic National Convention, served on two inaugurations for President Barack Obama and was the CEO of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
"I am the only candidate with local, state, federal experience and experience in the nonprofit world. I can bring those experiences together and bring folks to the table to really help make government work again," Kerrigan said.
After being behind the scenes for most of his career, this year he launched a bid to be the next lieutenant governor. He has stormed out of the gates and won the Democratic convention - reeling in support from more than one-third of the delegates at the Democratic convention.
Now, he hopes to continue the momentum and win the Democratic nomination to be on the ticket.
"We won the convention and it felt great. This is my first time running for office so winning the convention was a real sign that the work we've been doing, the grassroots organizing we'd been doing across the commonwealth, paid off. It was a real charge for the team," Kerrigan said.
Heading into the convention, he had 10 mayoral endorsements, four sheriffs and numerous legislators — including state Sen. Benjamin Downing. Kerrigan says that shows that he will be one to fight for the cities and towns.
"They know they'll have a partner in me," Kerrigan said of officials on the municipal level.
He says he will work "in partnership" with the Democratic nominee to craft an agenda for the entire state. And immediately that needs to include looking at tax incentive programs and agency operations to start showing the taxpayer "we have respect for the sacrifices they make every day in paying their taxes."
Local aid and Chapter 70 school funding are of most concern for Kerrigan, who says he knows how important those funds are on the local level.
"Our formula for school funding has only been looked at three times since education reform was done 21-years ago and it was supposed to be looked at every two years. We need to take a long look at that and make sure the cities and towns are getting the resources they need," Kerrigan said, when asked what his primary goal would be once elected.
Without being the top name on the ticket, Kerrigan says the person means more. While the governor's seat outlines the vision, the lieutenant governor position both helps lay out that agenda but also makes sure that vision is being fulfilled, Kerrigan said.
"For me, this isn't about promises or pledges. This is about results and getting things done. It has never been about showboating for me. It has been about finding a problem, tackling it, getting the right folks in the room and moving our commonwealth forward," he said. "I don't care if the job title is 'chief cook and bottle washer' as long as I get a chance to make a real difference in people's lives."
He later added, "there are great ideas and promises out there for what folks hope to do. I've done them."
All three Democratic governor's are "far better" than the Republic Charlie Baker will be, Kerrigan said. And he feels he will work with with whichever Democrat heads the ticket.
And for Berkshire voters, he adds that both Baker and his running mate Karyn Polito are from the eastern part of the state, so the Democrats would be better served by someone who knows the whole state.
"I believe the commonwealth needs a lieutenant governor who understands the issues of Western and Central mass," Kerrigan said.
Kerrigan is vying for the Democratic position against Melrose-native Mike Lake; and Cambridge City Councilor Leland Cheung.
One of those three candidates will be paired with the gubernatorial candidate on the Democratic ticket. Steve Grossman, Martha Coakley and Donald Berwick are the three candidates still in contention or that office on the Democratic side.
Lanesborough Re-elects Incumbents
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — With a ballot full of incumbents running uncontested, a small turnout reelected eight town officials.
Only 140 of the town's 2,095 registered voters made it to the polls on Tuesday. But, that was enough.
Those voters put Henry Sayers back on the Board of Selectmen; Amy Szczepaniak as a cemetery trustee; Christine Galib on the Finance Committee; Regina Dilego on the School Committee; Ronald Tinkham on the Planning Board; Robert Reilly as moderator and Jane Stevens and Prudence Barton as library trustees.
Three Sewer Commission seats and a tree warden position was listed on the ballot but with no candidates. Town meeting had already approved turning those positions into appointed, so any votes there were irrelevant.
The number of ballots was dramatically lower than when 22 percent of the voters went to the polls for the special election in the fall. That election had only one race for the Board of Selectmen but drew a lot of interest.
In that election, Sayers narrowly defeated Barbara Hassan.
For that race campaign signs were displayed throughout the town and debates and campaigns were held leading up to the race. On Tuesday, only Sayers could be seen campaigning as he stood at town hall for the duration of the eight hours of polling.
Attorney General Candidate Miller Calls For Professionalism, Not Politics
John Miller says the attorney general's job is not a political one.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Attorney General Candidate John Miller
says it is time to vote for the person, not the politics.
Miller has launched a campaign for the attorney general's office. He will be on the ticket as a Republican but he says that shouldn't and won't matter. What matters, he said, is that he has the skills and experience to do the job.
"Fundamentally it is not a political job. The law in this state is built on the Massachusetts constitution. On top of that, our statutes. And, on the side, 300 years of common law decided by our courts. The basic job of the attorney general is to protect that law," Miller said.
The 61-year-old has spent his last 36 years as a construction attorney working with public contracts. He knows procurement laws and he has seen how state contracts are awarded.
And he says he knows how to make sure the state's money goes to where it should be going.
"Every day I will find out how to make it increasingly dangerous to steal from the state," Miller told the Berkshire County Republicans during a dinner Tuesday night in Pittsfield.
In both the social programs and then on the contractual side, Miller said he will organize and layer the state's databases to help root out mistakes or malpractice in payments and funding.
"This isn't about malevolence or evil. This is just an administrative improvement," Miller said. "You have to start looking systematically."
Miller says he will also be "a real partner" with the district attorneys and sheriff departments. And, he promises that he will handle the office independently and not politically.
"I just think that we are not paying attention at this job, at this time. It is a professional approach to this job [I am bringing], not a political one," Miller said.
While he promises the independent nature, Miller is running on the Republican ticket. He says he always been a Republican so it "was natural" to take their nomination.
Now living in Winchester, Miller grew up in New Britain, Conn., before attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After earning his master's degree, he went to Boston University for his law degree. He returned to MIT at the age of 40 to finish up a doctorate.
"My parents dropped me off when I was 17 at MIT and I have a civil engineering degree, master's degree and then I went to law school. When happens when you put civil engineering with law school, what pops out is a construction lawyer," Miller said.
"I've been a construction lawyer for 36 years, which has taken me into public contracts. My wheelhouse, most of my professional life, has been in state contracts."
Since 1977 he has worked in a few law firms focused on construction. He stopped for 10 years to teach at MIT before going back to practicing at Patton Boggs, LLP.
"I have the experience and the skills. I'm 61 and it is time to give back. I've had a great run as a public contracts lawyer but I think it is time," he said of why he decided to run for his first political office. "The ship of the state is leaking a little bit and I think I have some skills I can contribute."
Miller launched his campaign for the seat in March and is the only Republican candidate. The seat will be open because current Attorney General Martha Coakley is running for governor. The Democrats will be holding a primary between Warren Tolman and Maura Healy
to pick their nominee.
Miller says he has no plans for any officer higher than attorney general and just wants to do the job as the state's attorney.
"I think we need someone to pay attention. I think in order to be a good lawyer you have to remember who the client is and that the client's interest is paramount," Miller said.
Pignatelli and Mark Supporting Grossman for Governor
William "Smitty" Pignatelli is supporting Steven Grossman for governor.
LENOX, Mass. — Treasurer Steven Grossman is expected to win this weekend's Democratic convention.
State Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli is hoping Grossman will be the next governor.
"I think he is the only Democrat in the field currently that can win in November. Any one of these candidates can win in the primary, but the Democrats have to look at who win in November," Pignatelli said earlier this week.
"We know who the Republican is going to be. It is going to be Charlie Baker and he is going to be well-financed, really organized, and we have to put up somebody who can go toe to toe with him."
The dean of the Berkshire delegation expects Grossman to "run away" with this weekend's convention.
"He makes it personal. He looks you in the eye and tells you why he wants to be governor and I think he's making a connection with people unlike any other candidate in the field," Pignatelli said. "For that reason, I think he'll run away with this thing."
State Rep. Paul Mark says he leaning toward Grossman as well.
"It looks like I am with Steve Grossman. I think he would do a really good job working with the Legislature," Mark said on Friday. "I see Steve Grossman as someone who can walk in on day one and get things done."
But, the primary race is "wide open," both Pignatelli and Mark say. The Democratic Party has five candidates running for governor but there hasn't been a "clear cut favorite."
The field consists of two well-know candidates in Grossman and Attorney General Martha Coakley and then three lesser known candidates in Donald Berwick, Juliette Kayyem and Joseph Avellone. The candidates need 15 percent of delegates to be on the primary ballot.
Polls have shown that while Grossman is expected to win the convention, Coakley is still the favorite for the primary. Some polls have even shown Berwick leap-frogging Coakley in delegates at the convention.
"I think it is wide open," Pignatelli said. "I think that shows that there is some good momentum and some great grassroots democracy going on in Massachusetts."
Mark said if all of the candidates could run on the same ticket, that would be an amazing administration because of each of their experiences. But Mark too is expecting Grossman to be the winning of the convention.
"I would predict that Steve Grossman is at the top with the delegates," Mark said, but with limited delegates for five candidates, he expects at least of the five to fall short of the needed 15 percent.
While Coakley and Grossman have been the leading candidates leading up to the primary, the race remains tight. While Pignatelli has come out in favor of Grossman, others have not. State Sen. Benjamin Downing has not and says he might not lend his support to any of the candidates before the primary.
"I just haven't felt compelled to make that statement yet. I fully plan on supporting the Democratic nominee for governor but I don't know if I will involve myself in a primary just yet," Downing said.
Downing, who said he is "skeptical of the power of endorsements anyway," will be active in the election with his role as co-chairman of the party's "coordinated campaign." But looking at the field, Downing says it might be best to let them sort out the nomination on their own.
"No one candidate has caught on fire like Deval Patrick did in 2006 but those five candidates have been out there for the better part of a year plus in some cases," Downing said.
Later adding, "when it gets close, you are better off letting the candidates decide it."
However, in the lieutenant governor race, Downing has already threw his support behind Steve Kerrigan.
"Steve Kerrigan is more than just a candidate I support. We've been good, close friends for a number of years. He is someone who has the skills and the ability to be a successful lieutenant governor for Massachusetts," Downing said.
Pignatelli feels the primary for lieutenant governor is Kerrigan's "race to lose." But, Pignatelli says he hasn't determined who he supports. Mark says he has not yet decided on that race.
Downing to Serve as Chief Surrogate for Coordinated Campaign Effort
BOSTON — The Massachusetts Democratic Party has named state Sen. Ben Downing co-chair of the Coordinated Campaign, a crucial post that will serve as the chief surrogate for Democratic efforts throughout the election cycle.
Downing, of Pittsfield, is a rising star in Democratic politics and has represented the Berkshires and portions of Hampshire, Franklin and Hampden counties since 2007.
As chair of Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, Downing’s leadership on clean energy has helped make Massachusetts No. 1 in the nation. According to the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, there are now nearly 80,000 clean energy jobs in Massachusetts, with a 24 percent growth in the last two years.
“Massachusetts is back in the leadership business because of the Democratic Party,” said Downing. “As Democrats, we’ve got a great story to tell about leading the nation in business competitiveness, education, clean energy and veteran’s services. I’m excited to travel the commonwealth and tell that story.”
Downing’s Coordinated Campaign co-chair will be named at a later date.
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