Wednesday, November 01
PITTSFIELD — With a week to go until Tuesday's election, Pittsfield Mayor James M. Ruberto yesterday officially endorsed state Senate candidate Benjamin B. Downing. It was the first of several endorsements the 25-year-old Democratic Party candidate and Pittsfield native is expected to receive in the next few days.

Outgoing state Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., D-Pittsfield, is expected to make an announcement at 1:30 p.m. today at the Ralph J. Froio Senior Center at 330 North St. The Berkshire legislative delegation has scheduled an announcement for 1 p.m. tomorrow on the front steps of City Hall.

An announcement from North Adams Mayor John Barrett III is expected to come in the next few days, Downing said yesterday.

Ruberto, the mayor of the largest community among the 48 in the state Senate district, is the first Berkshire County elected official to officially endorse his candidacy, Downing said yesterday. Downing faces Republican Matthew Kinnaman of Lee and Green-Rainbow Party candidate Dion Robbins-Zust of Richmond in the Nov. 7 election.

"I think it's a real privilege," Downing said in reference to Ruberto's endorsement. "I think Mayor Ruberto represents everything that I am trying to be in a state senator. His family has had a commitment to service to the Berkshires. He went away, came back, brought his new ideas, his fresh perspective to the city.

"We've seen downtown Pittsfield specifically go from an area without a direction to an area that's a destination," he added. "I think helping our communities to realize our potential, to bring people together under a common vision is exactly what I want to do."

Downing, the son of the late Berkshire County District Attorney Gerard D. Downing, edged former state Rep. Christopher J. Hodgkins of Lee by 1 percent of the vote in September's Democratic primary with a big assist from his hometown of Pittsfield, where he received 51 percent of the votes cast.

"It's definitely a huge help to the campaign," Downing said in having Ruberto's support. "But at the same point, in my position, you have to realize that there are 48 communities, and you can't run a race out of just one of them no matter how large the population is.

"You have a responsibility if you want to be a good senator to run a 48 community-wide campaign and that's what I've done since March," Downing said. "So it's a huge help, but there's a week's worth of work to do."

An early supporter of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Deval Patrick, Ruberto said that Downing doesn't need his endorsement to appeal to Pittsfield's voters.

"Ben Downing is going to win Pittsfield by a substantial margin, and he'd do it with or without my endorsement," Ruberto said. "He is going to do it because he has knocked on the doors of the people of Pittsfield. He has listened to the people of Pittsfield. And he has presented himself and his positions with a grand degree of maturity and professionalism."

Downing is the youngest of the three candidates running for Nuciforo's seat, and Ruberto said he offers the people of Berkshire County and beyond the "youth, energy and the ability to relate and involve" more people in the political process than any candidate who ran or is still running.

"What we need engaged and involved in the process today are people who represent the new generations that are going to be confronted with all of the forward-thinking issues in social problems and moral issues that are going to confront us," Ruberto said. "I think by having more of the younger generations involve themselves in the political process we're going to be able to engage more of their age group in the political process."