Photo Gallery | Republican Christine Canning kicks off state Senate campaign
PITTSFIELD — Christine M. Canning called herself a "pit bull but with lipstick" and a "new tributary" who would freshen the waters of Berkshire politics.
Canning, a Lanesborough Republican, formally announced her campaign for the Berkshire-region Senate district at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 448 on Wednesday.
To an audience of dozens, the candidate touted her tirelessness in fighting for equality of opportunity and sensible policy, her extensive education and knowledge of foreign languages; experience living in the Middle East and her whistleblowing past.
"I have a vision; I want to bring jobs," Canning said. "I've worked around the world, in multiple countries. I've seen growth. For the last 24 years, we've been run by Democrats, and now, we are the 21st poorest county in the United States. That is not acceptable in my mind."
She added, "I will bend over backwards. I don't quit."
USA Today reported Berkshire County as the 21st poorest county in the United States in January 2015, based on median household income and the poverty and unemployment rates.
Canning, 46, also pitched herself as a crossover candidate who Democrats could comfortably vote for — a "doer," not a party follower, more concerned with getting things done than political grandstanding.
"I will guarantee you this: I have a lot of integrity, and if I say I'm going to go in and do it, I will do it," she said. "I'm never tired. People say to me, 'You're like the Energizer Bunny; you keep going and going.' The reason is, I believe in people, and I believe I'm here to serve people.
Canning added, "We have Democrats here tonight."
Naming legislative committees she would seek to work on, Canning identified her areas of expertise: Ways and Means, the Joint Committee on Education, the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security, and the Committee on Ethics and Rules.
Brash and gregarious in style, Canning seemed to fit the part she seeks to play. She spoke out against a Democratic bill up for consideration by the Joint Committee on Transportation, seeking to grant illegal immigrants Massachusetts driver's licenses, potentially opening these individuals up to other state services.
Canning said it should not be passed when many veterans remain homeless and in need of services.
State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, and state Sen. Patricia Jehlen, D-Somerville, filed the bill.
Peter C. Giftos, former executive director of Berkshire County Republican Association, who attended the announcement, called Canning "almost too good to be true."
"She has that rare gumption that I like to see in the political process," Giftos said. "What I like about her, is if she sees something wrong, she'll go after it like a tiger."
Canning, a former Taconic High School teacher, went after Pittsfield Public Schools on racial discrimination issues and later did the same in Holyoke schools.
"If you shut up [about issues], the problems continue," Canning said. "You cannot deny people opportunity."
Also in her career, Canning taught in colleges in the United Arab Emirates and Dubai for 14 years.
What she termed runaway corruption and nepotism in Massachusetts — from small towns to state government — would also be a focus, Canning said.
Canning is CEO of New England Global Network, LLC, an education consulting firm, and develops curriculum and educational training manuals, books and other materials, often under state or federal contracts, including for the State Department involving foreign nations.
Canning's late husband Douglas Wilson died of leukemia in 2003. Canning is raising the couple's two children.
Giftos also identified Canning as "one of those rare Republicans" who can win in liberal Massachusetts, because of her personality, emphasis on accomplishing things and focus on corruption.
"We've had one-party government in Massachusetts for so damn long, that's where the corruption comes from," Giftos said. "If you look at the history of the country, you find that every state that had one-party government has gone bananas, has gone bad."
Canning holds an English degree from UMass and a master's from West Virginia University in foreign language and linguistics. She also studied at the University of Cambridge, England, Oxford University, England, and Salzburg College in Austria.
Those announcing their candidacy for the Democratic nomination for the Senate seat — potentially to become Canning's opponent in November — include Adam Hinds and Rinaldo Del Gallo of Pittsfield and Andrea Harrington of Richmond.
The three could face of in a primary election in September.
Contact Phil Demers at 413-496-6214.