NORTH ADAMS -- Congressional candidate Bill Shein visited the city Tuesday for the third time since his campaign began, advocating across-the-board reforms and instituting more inclusive policies at the national level.
Shein is running for Massa chusetts 1st Congressional District seat against opponents U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, who currently represents the 2nd Congressional District and former state Sen. Andrea F. Nucifero Jr. and has built a grassroots campaign that promises to visit all 86 cities and towns in the district.
Shein's been attending house parties and discussions in places across the district for months and says response has been very positive, and the campaign's been accumulating volunteers.
A native of Alford, Mass., Shein has been an activist and a writer -- penning a Berkshire Eagle column -- for years and is new to politics. Shein says he's interested in fighting for progressive policies to combat the problems he's spent years diagnosing.
One key way to enact change, according to Shein, is by electing candidates unassociated with the monied interests that feed into both major parties today.
"We know this district is going to elect a Democrat. So the question becomes: What kind?" Shein said. "Someone who offers substantive difference, or someone who's spent their entire career within the system, relying on millions provided by the forces we should be fighting against. I'm anything but politics as usual."
Shein is only accepting donations of up to $99 from individuals for his campaign and is refusing corporate, PAC and lobbyist donations.
The influence of big money has led to a "limiting of options" for voters and a "narrowing of discussion," which, over years, has contributed to the problems the country faces today, according to Shein. He said his primary concerns are the state of our democracy, the economic collapse and the environmental crisis. Shein's policy goals attempt to address each of these issues.
He champions publicly funded elections, local business and agriculture and fairer economic practices.
"Corporate profits are setting records. Meanwhile, long-term unemployment is also setting records, and the foreclosure crisis has barely been addressed," Shein said. "Policy in Washington is currently demonstrably upside down, and it's all tied to how folks are being elected."
For places like North Adams, Shein advocates the growth of small business and suppliers around a community's "anchor institutions" -- keeping money local and creating a "multiplier effect across the economy."
"The word ‘local' describes a lot of what I'm talking about, and these policies are not Left or Right; they're just smart."
Shein plans to continue holding events, raising awareness and connecting with activists throughout the district, and he hopes to "continue learning from the people."
"The people have a lot to say, and I've heard some powerful perspectives," Shein said. "Obviously, what's broken needs to be fixed, and I wouldn't be doing this if I wasn't eager to make a difference."
To reach Phil Demers,