The MA Treasurer/Receiver General race has glories and worries. On the Dem side, three solid candidates want to replace Steve Grossman as he stepped aside to run for Governor. All three spoke with Left Ahead on the past three successive weeks. Their half-hour shows appear below.
On the negative side, unless you really pay attention, deciding among three good contenders is tough. Moreover, this is down ballot in what is likely to be a low turnout primary (better for governor two months later). As a Warden in a Boston polling place, I dread hearing voters say they don’t know anything about the candidates. I won’t be allowed to scold them or to discuss the candidates.
Note that we would have talked with the GOP nominee Mike Heffernan…if only he had responded to any of the requests.
The links below are to their show. Each discusses expanding the role of Treasurer even beyond what activist Grossman has. Each presents a persona (click their names to visit their sites):
- Barry Finegold, MA Sen., as self-made success who takes gutsy legislative stances
- Tom Conroy, MA Rep., who sees himself as the leading financial lawmaker in the State House
- Deb Goldberg, former Brookline Board of Selectmen Chair, who although an heiress to Stop & Shop has lived and worked as a progressive dogooder
Following the show links, I’ll insert some of their ideas as teasers. Then I’ll conclude with some personal takes.
Click below to hear Deb Goldberg. (She starts around 7:28):
Click below to hear Tom Conroy:
Click below to hear Barry Finegold. (He starts a little over 2 minutes in and leaves 8 minutes early):
He talks about his goals if he wins the primary then the general. Some are relative easy sells on the campaign trail — use pension funds to create more MA jobs, improve education, return more to municipalities, and promote financial literacy. Those are much in the line of the current Treasurer Steve Grossman. He touches on less pow! duties of the office — fully funding the pension liability and improving bonding capacity. He sketches is plan to fund pensions by 2036, starting with putting 10% more in annually for awhile.
He’s candid about his personal feelings, integrity, background and votes in the MA House and Senate. In fact, you can pick up hints of Elizabeth Warren’s personal style. For example, he likes saying that no one every gave him anything, he started in a Hyde Park Housing project and earned everything he’s gotten.So far, voters have appreciated his stances. Even when his districts disagreed with his votes against the death penalty and for same-sex marriage, they reelected him regardless.
Tom Conroy offered clear but not radical visions of the office. He identifies as a team player (marvelous tale of being a middle child who learned to be persuasive to get his share of his mom’s pies), who would work with the governor and legislators to enact his agenda.
He has school smarts, as well as financial professional experience and seven years as a state rep. He’s proud of his work on driving the minimum-wage hike and other key financial issues. He says not only is he the single candidate with the expertise and experience but that he can implement as Treasurer.
He would continue current programs such as using state funds to foster small-business growth and pressuring banks to do the same. On the other hand, he did return to the team-player mode. He said he’d convene a task force on the commonwealth’s economy immediately after he 1) won the primary and 2) the general, in November to fix his direction.
She had a straight-ahead performance. Two telling comments came near the end. One is that she has a serious agenda, which she would like to have 4 or 8 or 12 years to bring to fruition. The other is that she defines herself as an unabashed, lifelong progressive Democrat who does not see any conflict or distinction among the professional, personal and political. Click below to listen in.
Goldberg said a high priority would be ensuring the stability and growth of the 60B public-employee pension fund. She said the current Treasurer has set a high standard in returns. She would want to match or better that. She’d speak with each fund manager to make sure they balanced safety and growth goals.
She sees huge challenges in the school building authority. As with much MA infrastructure, we have deferred maintenance and face large expenditures to give kids safe places to learn.
As with the other two Dem candidates, she sees a big need for financial literacy. She praised Grossman’ pilot effort here for all ages and genders as well as immigrants. In fact, repeatedly throughout the show, she returned to the currently disadvantaged that she saw the commonwealth and the Treasurer’s office in particular could help. Listen in as she describes how the office might improve the lives of women, minorities and immigrants.
While she praised Grossman’s efforts in many ways, she has additional programs in mind. One of the more striking is a state public bank. The model she referenced is in North Dakota. She spoke highly of it aiding in state development as well as weathering the big recession best in the nation. She wants us to join states like Illinois in considering it.
She has definite plans on how to use the office to promote MA businesses, from lending to procurement.
The three guests came by happenstance. I didn’t pick the order. Yet I found that I liked them in politics, platform and personality in increasing amount week to week. If you listen to all three shows, you’re likely to find much to appreciate in each. I suggest Finegold to Conroy to Goldberg, as I got them.
I try not to endorse for primaries either here, on Left Ahead or at Marry in Massachusetts. Yet in a first for this season, I’ll admit that I pick Goldberg.
It was not the deciding factor, but if you listen to her show, you’ll here that she and I speak a few times about her uncle Norman Cahners. I worked for Cahners Publishing and in fact for the only magazine he founded and wrote for, Modern Materials Handling, originally the Palletizer. He married Goldberg’s aunt. Everybody loved Norm. Otherwise, I have never met any of the three candidates before speaking with them.
Finegold has specific plans for fully funding the pension fund, but otherwise seems derivative of Grossman. Conroy has a strong financial background and promises to do the same and better as Grossman. His big plank of a task force between November and taking office seems to lack leadership and direction. Goldberg as the unashamed progressive with very clear ideas has the edge to me.
Moreover, she spoke of not kicking against the goads (my classical training, not her phrase), but of all she could do without approval of the new Governor or the legislature. She’s ready to roll.