The three Democrats seeking a spot on the ballot in the state treasurer's race all say they're interested in making a difference in people's lives, whether advocating for the middle class, pushing financial literacy or seeking economic justice.
The three Democrats seeking a spot on the ballot in the state treasurer’s race all say they’re interested in making a difference in people’s lives, whether advocating for the middle class, pushing financial literacy or seeking economic justice.
State Rep. Tom Conroy, state Sen. Barry Finegold and former Brookline selectman Deb Goldberg are each vying for 15 percent of the vote at this Saturday’s Democratic State Convention, the amount it takes to make the ballot.
Conroy, a Wayland resident who has served in the state House of Representatives since 2007, said the office of treasurer can touch lives daily statewide. For example, he said he would work to expand education opportunities – the Massachusetts School Building Authority, which the state treasurer chairs, can build pre-K classrooms, which he would make a priority.
He would also follow the lead of current Treasurer Steve Grossman, who is running for governor, and invest cash reserves in local banks. Conroy said social and economic justice would play into how he makes decisions on the pension fund (as the treasurer serves as chairman of the Pension Reserves Investment Management Board) and he would support middle-class jobs.
Conroy, who previously spent 16 years in the private sector as a financial, economic and risk manager, said he has the “financial management expertise we need in a state treasurer to make smart investments with taxpayer dollars.”
Finegold has made fighting for the middle class a hallmark of his campaign. He said he grew up in a middle-class family, the son of two teachers, and had a paper route at age 10.
“Nothing’s been given to me,” said Finegold, an Andover resident who has served in the Senate since 2011 and was first elected to the state House of Representatives in 1996.
Finegold said he would push for strong financial literacy programs. He serves on the Financial Literacy Trust Fund, an independent group chaired by Grossman seeking to enhance financial literacy and raise money.
He also advocated for affordable college tuition and loan forgiveness programs, noting he knows a woman who has $280,000 in debt from law school and college.
“I think there’s a lot of concern for what’s happening to the middle class,” Finegold said.
Goldberg, a Brookline resident who has served as an executive at Stop & Shop, a company her family built, said she cares “a great deal about public employees.” She said she was excited that the Mass Retirees association endorsed her and trusts her with pensions.
Noting the treasurer’s office oversees 800 employees, 400 of whom are union, Goldberg calls herself the only one in the race who successfully negotiated a collective bargaining agreement.
In the office, Goldberg seeks “economic empowerment, economic security and economic stability.” Her ideas include a “statewide, robust, laser-focused, culturally sensitive financial literacy program” for all ages as well as a kindergarten student college savings program that she says is being done in other states and would be payable through bank fees, not at the taxpayer’s expense.
All three candidates are crisscrossing the state in an effort to get their name out in a race with a lower profile than the campaign for governor.
Conroy acknowledged the nature of the “down-ballot race” and noted that there is a certain amount of voter fatigue, but attending a lot of events has helped his cause. For example, he said he was in Holyoke last Thursday for a debate and he was the only treasurer candidate to show up.
On the digital side, Conroy has five major policy statements on his website and has launched a “50 for 50” social media campaign, a collection of ideas and proposals spread out over 50 days leading up to the convention.
“I think we’re putting out more content and substance than anyone else in this race,” Conroy said.
Finegold said he’s been wearing out the car, for example in traveling on one day last week to events from Springfield to Belmont.
“You meet people and it energizes you,” said Finegold, who is up most days at 4 a.m. “I feel really good about the direction of the campaign.”
He noted that it can be hard campaigning in the late spring and summer but he thinks people are starting to focus on the election.
Like the other two candidates, Finegold seemed confident in reaching the 15 percent goal at the convention at the DCU Center in Worcester. He said he has more than 300 activists working on the campaign.
Similar to her two opponents, Goldberg, who is currently a Brookline Town Meeting member and state committee member, pointed to the grassroots nature of her campaign. Her team is working the phones, “making literally thousands of calls,” and on a recent three-day stretch away from home, she traveled from Falmouth over to Springfield and Northampton.
“It’s invigorating,” Goldberg said. “I’m really passionate about the possibility of making a difference in people’s lives. It’s why I ran.”
The primary is Sept. 9. Republican Mike Heffernan, a businessman from Wellesley, is also running.
“I believe government has a very important role to play,” said Goldberg, who served as a selectman for six years. “That’s the difference between us and Republicans.”
Paul Crocetti is editor of the Waltham News Tribune and writes for GateHouse Media New England's political news team. Follow on Twitter @MassPoliNews.