PITTSFIELD — State Senate candidate Rinaldo Del Gallo held a formal campaign announcement Tuesday at Shire City Sanctuary, promising a progressive agenda in the Legislature and contending his name recognition could give him an edge in the Democratic primary.
Del Gallo faces Adam Hinds of Pittsfield and Andrea Harrington of Richmond for the Democratic nomination. A lone Republican, Christine Canning of Lanesborough, is seeking her party’s nomination.
Several supporters attending the evening event praised Del Gallo, 53, a city native and attorney, for his work on behalf of progressive causes — often performing hours of pro bono legal work.
Brad Verter said, “I was inspired by Rinaldo Del Gallo,” when Verter began pushing for bans on polystyrene foam containers and shopping bags in Williamstown, both of which were enacted.
Del Gallo’s proposal for similar bans in Pittsfield spurred his own, Verter said, adding that he previously hadn’t realized such changes could be enacted, before he saw a Del Gallo column on his citywide effort in The Berkshire Eagle.
“He held my hand through the entire process [in Williamstown],” Verter said.
Since then, he said, he has launched MassGreen.org, which assists communities around the state in similar environmental protection efforts.
Jim Martin, who said he has known Del Gallo for many years, said the attorney worked pro bono for numerous hours on a probate court issue for him.
“He has always been more concerned about helping people than making money,” Martin said.
Speaking later, Del Gallo estimated he has done “a fantastic amount of pro bono work” over the years in numerous causes.
Martin also praised the candidate for “being the first against the [Kinder Morgan natural gas] pipeline in this county.”
Grier Horner, a retired Berkshire Eagle editor and artist, said Del Gallo helped rescue his neighborhood when a developer planned a 375-unit timeshare development nearby. Not seeking any compensation, Del Gallo “knocked the [legal] footing out from under the developers,” Horner said.
He also praised the candidate, who has promised to run “as a Bernie Sanders progressive,” for his positions on taxation, the environment and many other issues. Through changes in the state and federal tax structures, Del Gallo wants to “ease the stranglehold” wealthy interests have obtained, Horner said.
“We need more candidates like Bernie Sanders and Rinaldo Del Gallo,” he said.
Del Gallo stressed his progressive platform, which includes creating a tax structure favorable to the middle class and poor and asks more in taxes from the wealthy. Quoting Sanders during his presidential campaign, he cited statistics showing that the nation had a robust economy in past decades when the tax rates on high earners and wealth were much higher.
“Today, we don’t have the money to fund government anymore,” he said, later adding, “We can’t keep putting it on the [government] credit card.”
He also called for a $15 minimum wage and other changes to boost lower-income workers and the poor, contending that would enhance the entire economy as it did during the post-World War II decades.
He also supports tuition-free public higher education and affordable health care for all.
And the candidate said he has shown over the years a willingness to be among the first to take sometimes unpopular views and persevere until others adopt them as well.
He said that was true of his early stand in favor of decriminalizing marijuana and fighting for the rights of fathers with the Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition, and on transgender rights to use public restrooms.
“I think I have a chance in this race,” Del Gallo said.
He said he has a long track record of activism and other work in the Berkshires that could give him a name-recognition advantage over his Democratic rivals in the Sept. 8 primary.
Del Gallo said he favors an approach to economic development similar to the stimulus efforts in New York in creating a Nanotechnology Institute in the Albany area.
Del Gallo also talked about growing up in Pittsfield where his uncle, Remo Del Gallo, served as mayor during the 1960s. The elder Del Gallo was among about 30 supporters in attendance Tuesday.