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Attorney General Candidate Quentin Palfrey Talks Progressive Issues
By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
06:34PM / Sunday, May 15, 2022
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Candidate for attorney general Quentin Palfry speaks with voters on Thursday at Dottie's. He's running for the Democratic nomination for attorney general.


Quentin Palfry is currently an attorney in the Biden administration and is a former assistant attorney general. He tried for lieutenant governor in 2018.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Quentin Palfrey spoke of his fight for progressive issues during a meet and greet at Dottie's Coffee Lounge on Thursday.

The event was arranged by local Democrats and drew about 20 people. Palfrey, acting general counsel for the U.S. Department of Commerce and a former assistant attorney general, is vying for the Democratic nomination for attorney general.

"As a former assistant attorney general, I've seen firsthand how much impact the AG can have on Pittsfield and our communities all across Massachusetts," Palfrey said.
 
"So when [the former president] was in office, it was really inspiring to see the office fight back again and again and again against a corrupt and immoral administration," he said. "But now more than ever, with our fundamental rights under attack in the Supreme Court, with our democracy under attack, we need the attorney general to lead on the really important challenges of our time, racial injustice, the climate crisis, attacks on our democracy, attacks on workers rights, reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, student [loan] debt, housing costs, gun violence, we got a lot of work to do."
 
Palfrey was the first chief of the Health Care Division in the AG's office and later served in President Barack Obama's White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. He ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2018.
 
He is running in the primary against former Boston City Council President Andrea Campbell and labor attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan. Attorney General Maura Healey is running for governor.
 
As a native of central Massachusetts, Palfrey spoke to the importance of visibility for Western Mass on the eastern side of the state.
 
"I grew up in central Massachusetts and I think there's a shared sense where I grew up and also out here in the Berkshires that, too often, Beacon Hill forgets that we've got a big state with a lot of challenges that are different in different parts of the state," he said. "And I think it's really important for us to have state leaders who are physically present in the Berkshires and then all across the state and are really in dialogue with the community and trying to think about how we can address those needs."
 
Palfrey is a consumer protection advocate and voting rights lawyer. He is an advocate for a single-payer or Medicare For All type system to make sure that everyone has access to high-quality, affordable care.  
 
During his time in the health care division at the AG's office, he said he sued three predatory health insurance companies for prioritizing profit over patients' health.
 
"The opioid crisis and the coronavirus pandemic have laid bare some of the really big shortcomings in our healthcare system, health care costs too much, it's hard to access, it's the number one driver of bankruptcy in the United States," Palfrey said.
 
He later added that the United States fails to invest in public health and prevention and called for better resources for social determinants of health.
 
Palfrey highlighted the importance of bringing equity for people of all races and was later queried about his view on body cameras from attendees. This has become  local conversation after Pittsfield resident Miguel Estrella was shot and killed by police in late March.
 
"We also need to make sure that we are you live and the color of your skin does not determine whether your kids get a good education or not," he said.
 
"We're now almost seven years after Brown versus the Board of Education, our schools are still radically segregated, there's still a huge difference depending on where you live and what kind of an education your kids get, and as the chief civil rights officer in the commonwealth I think that the AG needs to take on this challenge of educational injustice with urgency, and I disagree with those, including one of my opponents, who believe that the solution to that challenge is to expand charter schools."
 
Aside from investing in schools, early childhood, and education to address racial injustice, Palfrey said the justice system also has to reform.
 
"The murder of George Floyd and the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict are just the most recent reminders that there are two justice systems in America," he asserted.
 
"We imprison too many people for too long for doing too little, race has too much to do with who ends up in the criminal justice system and we need the AG to lead on criminal justice reform, on corrections oversight on police accountability, finally getting a handle on the corruption in the state police."
 
When queried by local attorney Rinaldo Del Gallo again about his stance on body cameras, Palfrey voiced support for the equipment and said it's important to go in that direction. He is also in favor of eliminating qualified immunity for police officers who are involved in violent altercations.

The City Council recently endorsed a petition from Del Gallo requesting body cameras on Pittsfield police officers.

"There are a lot of reasons to be concerned and be really careful about sort of expanding that technology and that surveillance, but I think in the context of body cameras there are some real benefits to accountability and to ensuring that we can have some insight into the circumstances where a police-involved violence occurs, so we’ve got to get it right,” he said in response to concerns that were raised about the use of body cameras..

A local immigrant advocate pointed out that the Berkshires has a significant number of immigrants, including those who are undocumented, and queried Palfrey on his stance on a bill that was recently passed by the Senate to allow undocumented residents to obtain driver's licenses.

He replied that he is a big supporter of the bill and hopes to see it move forward despite concerns that Gov. Charlie Baker has voiced. If Baker were to veto the bill, Palfrey also hopes that could be overridden.

The candidate also outlined the attorney general’s importance in fighting for climate justice, LGBTQ+ rights, and his disappointment with the Supreme Court’s recent leaked decision to overturn Roe v. Wade stating that it is "undermining our basic reproductive rights."

He voiced opposition to corporate money flooding into elections, labeling it as the biggest challenge that the state faces for democracy. He describes his campaign as a grassroots movement.

"Our democracy is literally under attack," Palfrey concluded.

"An armed mob stormed the Capitol to try to disrupt a peaceful transition of power and I think we need to ask ourselves, what are we going to tell our children and our grandchildren that we did in this moment when American democracy and our fundamental liberties were so obviously under attack?  And I want to be able to tell them, we stood up, we fought back, we pounded our fists on the table, we screamed until we were hoarse, 'This isn't the kind of America we want to live in.'"

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