The mid-term congressional election is less than two months away and some observers wonder whether the event will be all about nothing.
Jan. 29--ANDOVER -- State Sen. Barry Finegold today will return to his humble boyhood roots to announce he is running for state treasurer.
The Andover Democrat plans to make the announcement at the Georgetown Housing Complex Community Center in the Hyde Park section of Boston where he and his parents lived before moving to Haverhill when he was a boy.
Finegold, 42, said he chose his childhood home as a backdrop to emphasize his middle-class roots and his experience working on fiscal issues as a member of the Legislature.
In an interview with The Eagle-Tribune yesterday, he stressed the accomplishments he made with little money, starting as a paperboy -- for another paper --and working multiple jobs through college and law school before starting his own firm.
"I scraped every nickel and dime to start my business," Finegold said. "I believe these qualities will make me a strong advocate for taxpayers."
If elected, Finegold said he would take over an office which manages the state's woefully underfunded pension system and operates a state Lottery system that he said is expected to take a financial hit as major casinos open and drain gambling dollars from the state's games.
An opponent of casino authorization bills in both the state House and Senate, Finegold said he accepts casinos will be licensed to operate in Massachusetts, but hoped the state could expand programs to treat gambling addiction. Currently, the state spends about $1 million to treat gambling addiction, he said.
But with eventually three casinos in Massachusetts, along with other casinos in Connecticut, Rhode Island and potentially New Hampshire, he said he is concerned the gambling market is getting saturated.
"Where are all these dollars coming from?" he said.
He said he would oppose allowing Lottery tickets to be purchased with credit cards, and opening the state Keno game online to make it easier for people to play anywhere.
The state's pension system is underfunded by between $30 billion and $40 billion. While the state government has been squirreling away hundreds of millions of dollars a year, and the pension fund recently has been earning 8 percent a year or better, it would take until 2035 or 2036 to fully fund the state's system at the current rate.
"We'll have to be disciplined even in the bad times," Finegold said.
He supports current Treasurer Steve Grossman's decision to move some of the state's rainy day and pension funds into small- and medium-sized Massachusetts banks, and would expand that to use some of those funds as investments in local small businesses.
Grossman is not seeking another term so he can run for the Democratic nomination for governor.
Wayland state Rep. Thomas Conroy and Brookline Selectman Deborah Goldberg have already announced for the Democratic nomination for treasurer. Wellesley businessman Mike Heffernan, who worked for Citigroup's Markets and Banking Division before co-founding mobile tech firm Mobiquity, announced Monday he would seek the Republican nomination.
Finegold has said since last St. Patrick's Day he would consider a run for treasurer, and has spent the last year building a network for a statewide run. His campaign account had a balance of $434,813.30 at the end of 2013, more than double the balance in June 2013 and far ahead his competitors, according to state campaign finance records.
Goldberg, whose family founded the Stop & Shop supermarket chain, has $114,358.34, while Conroy, a risk management consultant, has $37,097.60 in his account, according to state records.
Heffernan just notified the state of his campaign and has not yet filed any financial disclosures.
The primary is Sept. 14, but candidates must garner at least 15 percent support from the Democratic delegation at the state party's convention in Worcester in June to appear on that ballot.
Finegold has been a state senator since 2011 and represented Andover in the State House of Representatives starting in 1997.
This year he serves as chairman of the Election Laws committee and vice chairman of the joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, on which he served as chairman while in the House. Finegold said last year that renewable energy represents "the wave of the future for economic development," and has said he supports divesting the state pension fund of fossil fuel investments.
He also serves on the Education; Health Care Financing; and Labor and Workforce Development committees.
The rush is already on for Finegold's state senate seat, which covers parts of Lawrence, Andover, Tewksbury and Dracut. Lawrence School Committee Vice Chairman Pavel Payano is a candidate for the Democratic nomination, and Andover Selectman Alex Vispoli, who lost the Republican nomination to former state Rep. Paul Adams in 2012, will take another shot at the seat.
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