PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Quentin Palfrey watched the news of what happened in Charlottesville, Va. He watched as a group of students held a sign against racism while hundreds of others carried signs with swastikas.
And he wondered what he would tell his children about what he did in a time when his morals were put to the test.
“I want to be able to tell them that I stood up. I fought back. I pounded my fists on the table and I screamed until I was hoarse that this isn’t the kind of America we want to live in,” Palfrey said.
So he is running for lieutenant governor.
The Democrat had previously worked as a senior adviser for jobs and competitiveness in the White House under former President Barack Obama. He was deputy counsel for strategic initiatives at the U.S. Department of Commerce. He previously worked in the health-care division in the state’s attorney general’s office.
“We worked hard to build an economy that worked for everyone. Last year, like many of you, I worked hard to try to elect a president who would carry on those values. And I have to admit, I’m devastated by what has come since. There is a cruelty to this administration that seeks to rip apart families, put walls up between us and our neighborhoods, knock tens of millions of people off health insurance. There is also an attack on the fundamental underpinnings of our democracy,” he said.
He is trying to take his experience and ideals to Beacon Hill in hopes that Massachusetts, with Democrats in the majority in both houses of the Legislature, will become a national leader.
“If we can take back the governor’s office, Massachusetts can do things other states can only dream of. We can raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. We can get paid family leave. We can pass a millionaire’s tax and really invest in education and transportation all across the state. We can move toward single-payer health care. We can have real solutions to the opioid crisis. And we can fix our broken criminal justice system,” Pelfrey said.
But Palfrey isn’t the only Democrat seeking office this upcoming election. Democrats have candidates up and down the ballot, from Congress to the Governor’s Council to Berkshire district attorney.
On Sunday, Democrats in Pittsfield caucused to choose their representatives at the state convention. And at that caucus, Palfrey was one of eight candidates to take the microphone and give their elevator pitch to the most active local members of the party.
Of those eight were two of the three Democrats seeking the nomination to take on Gov. Charlie Baker for the state’s top executive office. They spent the afternoon talking politics with the local party members.
“With Trump taking us backward every single day, it is more important than ever that we are leading here in Massachusetts. But we’re not leading under Charlie Baker. He’s a status quo, wait and see governor. And it is not good enough. It is not good enough to simply accept the world the way it is and try to manage it better,” said Jay Gonzalez said.
“We need a governor who sees the world the way it should and take us to that place.”