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Campbell, Liss-Riordan make Mass. AG pitches to Berkshire Democrats

The Andrea Campbell and Shannon Liss-Riordan campaigns
andreacampbell.org / shannonforag.com
Andrea Campbell and Shannon Liss-Riordan.

Two candidates in this year’s Democratic primary for Massachusetts Attorney General spoke with Berkshire County Democrats at a virtual meeting Wednesday night.

With incumbent Maura Healey vying for governor, three Democrats are aiming to win her seat. Former Boston city councilor Andrea Campbell and labor attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan appeared at the Berkshire Brigades’ virtual May meeting to tell their stories to local Democratic activists.

“This office has the tools, the resources, and the talent to make sure every family has access to health care, including mental health, has access to an education for their children, has access to a living wage, to benefits, tools to stay in your home, to buy a home, to grow your wealth in different ways. Every tool of course, to deal with racial disparities, public corruption, and of course, to make sure the neighborhoods in which we live in, we're raising our children – and I have two beautiful boys – that those neighborhoods are safe and more resilient and prepared for the next climate event," said Campbell. “I had a childhood filled with incredible instability. My mom actually died when I was eight months old. Going to visit my father who was incarcerated at the time, my father and my brother cycled in and out of the prison system, and my twin brother Andre died 10 years ago while in the custody of the Department of Correction as a pretrial detainee when he was only 29 years old. And so I do think I'm living proof that a girl who grew up in public housing with a family torn apart by such tragedy could turn that pain into purpose. I'm the first in my family to go to college, the first in my family to go to law school and become a lawyer.”

Campbell unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Boston in 2021 in the election that ultimately saw Michelle Wu prevail. She’s secured the endorsements of Massachusetts Democratic heavyweights like Senator Ed Markey, former Congressman Joe Kennedy III, and former Western Massachusetts State Senator Ben Downing.

If AG, Campbell promised to open a Berkshire County satellite office.

“We are Boston-centric state," she told the Berkshire Brigades. "I understand that. Most folks don't even know Western Mass goes past Worcester in many places, in many conversations, which is tragic. And the thing about Berkshire County is you have similar issues as anyone else- housing affordability, jobs, health care, drug abuse, substance use disorder, transportation, the list is long. And yet you don't have the resources, all the technology, human capital coming from various state offices and institutions to help residents, stakeholders deliver a solution to that.”

Liss-Riordan first made her name in the early 2000s representing wait staff employees in tip theft cases.

“I'm very proud to have spent my career fighting for the people against the powerful and winning, which is exactly what I plan to do for you as your next attorney general," she said. "I know that the people of Massachusetts can use some wins right now. Income inequality is at an all-time high. Corporate bad actors are taking advantage of workers, consumers, and our planet. Unions and the right to organize are under attack. Parents are having to choose between childcare and putting food on the table.”

Liss-Riordan was a Democratic candidate for US Senate in the 2020 election, but withdrew before the primary. She’s been backed by more than 40 labor unions across the state that represent over 150,000 workers.

“I am the only candidate in this race who was an actual practicing lawyer," she said "I'm the only candidate who has run a law firm. I'm the only candidate who has won jury trials, who has won appeals to help shape our laws to better and more fairly serve the people.”

If elected attorney general, Liss-Riordan promised not to “knee jerk” and “defend every case that's brought against the state or state agency, but evaluate what is the best solution.”

“The state is not always on the right side of the issues," she said. "I have frequently gone up against the state. I've won against the state. I have a case right now against the State Police for violating our newly enacted paid medical family and medical leave law. I’ve taken on the state for using an outdated and racially discriminatory exam for hiring and promoting police officers and firefighters, and as a result of my work, I've gotten Black and Brown firefighters and police officers hired across the state. And I know of a number of cases that are going on right now in which I think the state's position is not necessarily in the interest of the people.”

The third Democratic Attorney General candidate, US Department of Commerce Deputy General Counsel Quentin Palfrey, did not appear. He unsuccessfully ran for Lieutenant Governor in 2018 alongside gubernatorial candidate Jay Gonzalez.

Massachusetts Democrats go to the polls on September 6th to pick their candidates for the November 8th election. The party holds its convention the weekend of June 3rd in Worcester.

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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