Kerrigan Pushes Regional Economic Plan in Pittsfield
By Andy McKeever iBerkshires Staff
State Reps. Gailanne Cariddi, William "Smitty" Pignatelli, state Sen. Benjamin Downing and lieutenant governor candidate Steve Kerrigan talked economics during a morning walk down North Street.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Lieutenant governor candidate Steve Kerrigan is back to work after winning the Democratic nomination last week.
Kerrigan was in Pittsfield on Wednesday morning to walk North Street with state Sen. Benjamin Downing and state Reps. William "Smitty" Pignatelli and Gailanne Cariddi.
The local officials explained the mixture of economic development projects — from the streetscape and the proposed Hotel on North to ideas on how to free additional commercial space. They explained the county's economy as well and how it works alongside of Pittsfield — or as Pignatelli put it, "Pittsfield is the hub of a wheel."
Kerrigan and gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley are pushing a plan to create 16 regional economic sectors and invest more than $500 million over the next decade into a mixture of projects such as are happening in downtown Pittsfield.
"It was important to have Gail and Smitty here. Through Gateway Cities [state program], Pittsfield can access to a lot more services and resources through the state. But, Adams and parts of Gail's district and Lee and parts of Smitty's district cannot," Kerrigan said.
"With this regional economic approach where we'd create 16 different regions and give folks $500 million over 10 years so, they can look at the projects they would like to do and work together inside of their community to prioritize those things. That flexibility and giving the local folks a chance to decide their own future and grow their own economy is critical part of how we are going to move Massachusetts forward."
Kerrigan contrasted their plan to the Republican ticket of Charlie Baker and Karyn Polito, saying they would be cutting investments.
"We cannot be complacent in this election. We need Democrats and independents and even Republicans to show up and support the Coakley/Kerrigan ticket because we have the right vision for the future of the commonwealth and Charlie and Karyn Polito have a backward vision," Kerrigan said.
Kerrigan said in the race for governor, it is important for the Democrats to reach as many people as possible and tell them "what's at stake." While Baker and Polito will try to campaign as moderates, he said they'll governor in a much more conservative way and cut funding for projects.
"Karyn Polito and Charlie Baker both ran much more tea party campaigns in 2010 and the only thing that has changed in four years is that less people like the tea party so they are changing their tone and trying to convince us that they are the happy warriors. We can't let them get away with that," Kerrigan said.
Baker on Wednesday unveiled an economic plan of combined tax credits, increased local aid and the creation of 25 "Opportunity Zones."
Kerrigan and Coakley were first out of the gate to challenge the Republicans to six debates across the state.
He said both he and Coakley, the current attorney general, have already formed a strong base heading into first the convention and then the primary.
"We started early organizing and building the grassroots organization across the state. We mobilized for the convention and then carried on through and it worked," Kerrigan said. "We hope to bring that forward to win in November."
He added, "We're going to be a great partnership and our teams are working well together."
The Kerrigan/Coakley ticket is not only the best on the ballot, he says, but also a "historic" one.
"It is a great ticket. It is going to be a historic ticket. We've got the chance to elect the first woman governor, which is going to have a big impact on folks," Kerrigan said.
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