Ben Downing next up for Worthington Democrats

  • Former state Sen. Ben Downing AP FILE PHOTO/ELISE AMENDOLA

Staff Writer
Published: 12/16/2021 12:13:50 PM
Modified: 12/16/2021 12:13:15 PM

WORTHINGTON – Gubernatorial candidate Ben Downing, who formerly represented the Hilltowns for a decade in the state Senate, will be speaking to the Worthington Town Democratic Committee this Sunday.

“I am not taking any last vote for granted,” said Downing, saying he’s prepared to earn the votes of people in the western part of the state.

Downing will be speaking via Zoom at 2 p.m. as part of the committee’s Sundays with the Candidates series. Two other candidates for the 2022 Democratic nomination for governor, state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, D-Boston, and Harvard professor Danielle Allen, have already participated in the series.

“The last two we had great conversations,” said Ruth Lehrer, chairwoman of the committee.

She said participants were from both Worthington and other communities and that the forums wouldn’t have been possible without high-speed internet, which Worthington residents recently received. 

Allen said the internet also makes it easier for candidates to appear before voters in Worthington. In January, she said the plan is to have state Senate candidate Rep. Paul Mark, D-Peru, participate in the series.

Those interested in attending can email Worthingtondem@gmail.com with their name and town in order to receive the Zoom link.

Prior to the series launching, Downing spoke to the Worthington Town Democratic Committee earlier in his campaign. Downing said this was one of his campaign’s earliest meetings with a Democratic town or ward committee and that he’s now met with more than 100 of them.

“They’re all wonderful opportunities to hear directly from folks,” Downing said.

Downing, 40, grew up in Pittsfield and in 2006 was elected to a Berkshire-based state Senate District that also covered the Hampshire County Hilltowns. Downing served in that role for a decade, leaving office in 2017 after choosing to not run for re-election.

Downing moved east following his departure from the Senate as his wife, who earlier had moved to the western part of the state to support him, got a job at a clean energy company.

“It was my turn to chase her,” he said.

Downing and his wife now live in East Boston with their two sons. In his post-Senate life, Downing also worked in the clean energy sector, and he said that he saw other states accomplishing more with less.

“They had a greater sense of urgency from their leadership,” Downing said.

Three key themes Downing pointed to in his campaign are climate action, working on economic inequality and racial justice.

Policy-wise, Downing said he plans to get Massachusetts to 100 percent clean energy by 2040, and to do so in a way that prioritizes environmental justice communities that have been adversely affected by fossil fuels.

“We have the ability to build a clean energy future,” he said.

Downing also said he wants east-west rail to be built out by 2030, and to empower regions with the ability to put forward and fund transportation plans.

Within his anti-poverty plan, Downing also has a jobs program that would work with anchor institutions to get them to spend money within their communities that they spend elsewhere, a strategy that Downing said would also assist in closing the racial wealth gap.

Downing said that when he first ran for state Senate, he wasn’t familiar with the Hilltowns. However, he described representing them as a wonderful experience.

“The conversations were always direct and honest,” Downing said.

Downing said that western Massachusetts is an important part of his campaign’s strategy and the coalition he’s building.

“Western Mass is going to be a key part of how we win this race,” he said. “We’re going to compete for votes in any corner of the state.”

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.

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