PITTSFIELD -- State Rep. Tom Conroy, D-Wayland, a candidate for state treasurer, made a campaign stop in town on Sunday afternoon.

Speaking to about a dozen people at Dottie's Coffee Lounge on North Street,, Conroy, 51, emphasized his educational background in finance and his private sector experience in that discipline.

"When I was in the private sector, I learned a lot about good business practices and a lot about predatory business practices," he said. "And it was those predatory practices that drove me back into public service."

Conroy told the audience Sunday that he is a progressive Democrat whose intent, if elected, is to maximize the government's ability to help people by making smarter financial decisions.

On Sunday, he pointed out that the state's School Building Authority account is managed by the state treasurer's office. He advocated expanding that program to include pre-kindergarten programs as well as kindergarten through 12th grade buildings.

Conroy is also an advocate of raising the minimum wage to be the highest in the United States. He added that he doesn't believe the state should have to cut unemployment benefits to raise the minimum wage, as the Republicans in the Legislature have suggested.

"I see no reason to couple the two," he said.

He also advocates increasing the student loan and water infrastructure funds over which the treasurer's office has control. The former fund would provide more low-interest loans for students, while the latter would help communities improve their water infrastructure systems.

Finally, Conroy suggested the state should use local banks to invest in the funds over which they have control.

"Why go to Switzerland, why go to California [to invest]?" he said. "Why not put this money in a bank in Pittsfield?"

Conroy is presently a state representative in eastern Massachusetts. The district he represents includes the towns of Lincoln, Sudbury and Wayland. A Yale graduate, he also has a master's degree in international economics and an MBA.

The event was coordinated by state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, and Paul Mark, D-Second Berkshire District.

"He has an impressive financial background, and he's shown himself to be fighter for people on the edge," said Farley-Bouvier.

"And he'll pay attention to the whole state, not just the Metro Boston area," she added.

"He's very approachable," Mark said. "And he won't take this part of the state for granted."

Conroy, who chairs the Legislature's Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, is the second Democrat to enter the state treasurer's race. The other is Deborah Goldberg, who ran unsuccessfully for Lt. Governor in 2006. Ian Jackson, a Green Party candidate, is also running.

The current treasurer, Steven Grossman, is running for governor.

To reach Derek Gentile:
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On Twitter: @DerekGentile