Photo Gallery | Adam Hinds announces bid for State Senate
PITTSFIELD — Community advocate Adam Hinds has announced that he will seek election to the Berkshires' only state Senate seat.
Hinds, a Democrat and resident of Pittsfield, is the first candidate to publicly announce a run for the Senate position currently held by Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, who recently announced that he will not seek re-election in the November elections.
"We face a lot of big issues as a region; population decline, crime in some areas, and an opioid epidemic," Hinds said. "I felt it's an important time to really bring people together, and that's what I've spent my career doing."
The 1st Senate District represents 52 communities, and is geographically the state's largest, encompassing all of Berkshire County and parts of Hampshire, Hamden and Franklin counties.
Hinds told a crowd gathered in the Hotel on North lobby Wednesday afternoon that he believes in the potential of this region — with its world-class institutions, vibrant cities and access to nature — but also acknowledged the challenges it faces.
"If I've learned anything in my years of experience in diplomacy, it's that we can only achieve greatness when we confront these challenges together," Hinds said.
The Buckland native has been serving as executive director of the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition since September. Prior to joining the coalition, Hinds led the Pittsfield Community Connection and was the coordinator of the city's Shannon Grant program in an effort to stem youth violence.
"It was not an easy decision, but I will continue to work [at the coalition] for some time and I've worked with the board to ensure a plan for stability is there as I start this campaign," Hinds said.
Ultimately, it was Downing's decision not to run for a sixth term that prompted Hinds to launch his campaign.
"I would hope to continue his strong legacy of strong work for the region and bringing that youthful energy to the problems," he said.
Prior to returning to Western Massachusetts, Hinds spent nearly 10 years working with the United Nations confronting ongoing issues in the middle east.
Hinds said he has been "deeply involved" in a range of community efforts in addition to his work for the coalition, including advocating for economic development with Downtown Pittsfield, Inc.
"It's bringing that youthful energy but it's also bringing a wealth of experience of working overseas and local knowledge as well as digging into local issues," Hinds said of his professional experience. "I'm excited to roll up my sleeves."
Hinds focused his remarks on the importance of spurring economic growth in the district, saying a healthy economy can be a key in breaking the cycle of poverty and violence within communities.
The campaign will not be his first venture in politics. Hinds said he worked closely for former U.S. Rep. John Olver during several campaigns and worked for Sen. John Kerry in his 2004 bid for president.
"It's an inspiring position because it has the ability to really influence critical issues," Hinds said.
Local state Reps. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, and William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, have since announced they will not seek Downing's seat and will instead run for re-election to their current offices.
Pignatelli, who said he was unaware of Hinds' intention to run for the office, said he doesn't know Hinds well but that the new candidate seems like a "very bright young man."
"He's got an impressive resume," Pignatelli said, "I'm interested to see what he has to offer."
Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer congratulated Hinds on his decision to run for state office.
"This is an exciting time for our community," she said. "State elections have an important impact on the communities represented, and the leadership potential that results in its wake."
North Adams City Councilor Benjamin Lamb, a member of the coalition's board of directors, said he'd be sad to lose Hinds from the organization, but he is excited to see him take on the new endeavor.
"He will jump in with high energy and passion, which we have been lucky enough to benefit with Senator Downing for the past nine years," Lamb said. "This is a sign of the great things to come for this region, with a new generation transitioning to keep our positive momentum going."
Farley-Bouvier said she knows Hinds through his work in Pittsfield.
"Generally I'm always thrilled when people pick up the mantle [by] running for office; it's a huge decision," Farley-Bouvier said. "I am looking forward to getting to know him better and any other candidates who decide to run and this is going to be an interesting few weeks."
Hinds' campaign launched a Facebook page on Wednesday and can also be found at adamhinds.org.