PITTSFIELD - Stephen J. Kerrigan was a member of U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's staff when the senator helped craft the legislation that led to the creation of the William Stanley Business Park of the Berkshires.
On Monday, Kerrigan, now a Democratic Party candidate for lieutenant governor, used the 52-acre business park as a backdrop to accept an endorsement from state Sen. Benjamin B. Downing.
Referring to Kerrigan as "my good friend," Downing said Kerrigan's previous experience as a local elected official, as the head of both profit and nonprofit organizations, and as a staff member to both Kennedy and former state Attorney General Thomas Reilly made him well suited for the position.
"It's exactly the type of skill set that you need in the lieutenant governor's office," said Downing, a Pittsfield Democrat. "Someone who knows how to knock down barriers, and knows how to bring people together."
Referring to the Stanley Business Park itself, Downing said "this site right here needs exactly that. It holds all sorts of promise."
Kerrigan, who will be 43 in September, is one of five declared Democratic candidates vying in the state primary on Nov. 4. The post has been vacant since Timothy Murray resigned last year.
Kerrigan most recently served as the president and CEO of the 2013 Presidential Inaugural Committee, which prepared President Barack Obama's second inaugural. He also served as CEO of the 2012 Democratic National Convention Committee, and is the current president of the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund.
Besides Downing, Kerrigan has received endorsements from Senate Majority Leader Stanley C. Rosenberg, D-Amherst; Sen. Jennifer Flanagan, the vice chairwoman of the Senate Ways & Means Committee; and Sen. Mike Moore, who chairs the Center on Higher Education. Downing is chairman of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, and vice chairman of the Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development.
The mayors of Fall River, Holyoke, Quincy, Taunton and Worcester have also endorsed Kerrigan.
A native of Lancaster, outside of Worcester, Kerrigan said he worked with Kennedy 15 years ago to make sure the Stanley Business Park didn't end up being just "double line fencing" and a "big lot with GE's name on it."
"It has an opportunity to be a vibrant part of the Berkshires and New England," he said.
In a op-ed piece that was published in The Boston Globe last June, Kerrigan wrote that he sees "enormous potential" in the lieutenant governor's office to be an "ombudsman" for state government and for businesses and citizens trying to navigate state bureaucracy or complicated regulations.
"The next governor of Massachusetts needs a partner who understands government on all levels," Kerrigan said on Monday. "I've spent a career doing what we just described, which is solving problems."
Gov. Deval Patrick is not seeking re-election this fall.
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