Ben’s Story

Ben’s Story

My name is Ben Downing. I’m Micaelah’s husband. Malcom and Eamon’s father. An East Boston resident, a proud Pittsfield native and a former State Senator for Western Massachusetts. Maggie, Nate and Nick’s brother. Gerard and Pamela’s son. A climate leader, a progressive Democrat, and a lifelong public servant dedicated to serving my community. 

I’m running for Governor to build a fairer, stronger Massachusetts. 

I’m running because I believe there is no limit to what we can accomplish here in Massachusetts. But the leadership needed to unlock this potential is sorely lacking. As we recover and reimagine our future  in the months and years to come, we need a Governor who sees, feels and understands the gravity of this moment and how we got here; who is not content with accumulating power but who is ready to use that power to respond boldly to the dire impacts of the pandemic, rising racial inequality, and the urgency of climate change. 

“Massachusetts has all the ingredients to solve the big challenges it faces. What we’ve been missing is leadership.”

I’m running because when I drop off my sons at daycare, I see a room full of kids whose access to opportunity is determined not by their intelligence or character – but by the lottery of life and their zip codes. They all deserve every chance to make the most of their talents and gifts. They deserve our best, and Massachusetts isn’t giving  it to them. That needs to change.

I got into public service because I was born in a place that had to fight for itself, to a family that taught me not to waste time on the sidelines. Growing up in Pittsfield, I saw firsthand the legacy of an industry that created jobs but sacrificed the environment and public health. I saw some neighbors get laid off and others discover chemical pollution in their backyards. I saw factories and storefronts get boarded up while headlines in Boston touted a booming economy. And the message my generation heard in Western Mass was: Study hard and get out. Instead, I went back and ran for State Senate at age 24. I ran a campaign that promised to make decisions with future generations in mind. Thanks to a grassroots effort fueled by friends, family and supporters, I defeated a 10-term former incumbent by just 243 votes. 

Representing 52 communities as far away from Beacon Hill as you can get, I knew we had to work that much harder to build a fairer, stronger western Massachusetts. And we did. We revitalized downtowns, rebuilt our college campuses, led on clean energy and conservation, invested in broadband and worked every day to make our communities open and welcoming to all. As a State Senator, I led legislative efforts to accelerate our clean energy development and respond to climate change, rebuild our urban and rural economies, reduce poverty & hunger, strengthen our state ethics laws and expand protections for transgender individuals. 

After a decade in the State House, I kept a promise I had made when I was first elected and term limited myself. I chose to dedicate myself full-time to solving climate change and joined Nexamp,  a leading renewable energy company. There, my team and I worked to expand access to clean energy in Massachusetts and beyond. I led our efforts to expand to new markets outside of the northeast and helped deploy cutting-edge energy storage solutions right here at home. Micaelah and I moved to East Boston, where we welcomed our sons Malcom and Eamon and, when we weren’t chasing them around and enjoying the chaos of new parenthood, we became a part of a vibrant community.

Ben was a leader on climate, poverty, civil rights, economic development and government reform.

Pittsfield and East Boston are about 150 miles apart, each with its unique history, culture, and experience. But I found they share a whole lot in common. From one side of Massachusetts to the other, I have spent my life in communities that have had to fight harder than they should to get fair representation, equitable access to resources, and attention from Beacon Hill. So I know the difference state leadership makes. When we have had it, we launched a clean energy revolution, raised the minimum wage, reformed our ethics and criminal justice laws, protected marriage equality and expanded protections to transgender individuals. And then I saw what happened when Massachusetts lost that leadership. We lost the urgency that fueled our progress. We lost our will to act. And our economy, infrastructure and social safety net is weaker for it. 

I’m running for Governor because I know we can do better. We can respond forcefully to shameful racial disparities in access to health care, housing, education, transportation, food security, and the fundamentals every family needs to survive. We can lead the nation in responding to the threat of climate change and the legacy of environmental injustice. We can set the gold standard for civil rights. 

This is the Massachusetts I was raised to believe in – a Commonwealth on the cutting edge of our biggest challenges, not the back of the pack.  Our potential is limitless. But achieving it requires leaders who will not avoid, punt or tiptoe around our messiest, toughest challenges.

It requires leaders who will meet them head-on.