GREAT BARRINGTON — For the past decade, we have had tremendous leadership in the Massachusetts state Senate. Ben Downing has been an outstanding advocate for our region, leading on issues impacting Western Massachusetts. When Ben announced that he would not seek re-election this fall, I decided to run for Senate to continue this tireless advocacy for the 52 towns and cities in the district.
This election will have major ramifications on our communities, so I want to take this opportunity to tell you a little about who I am, where I come from, and how my background and life experiences have shaped my approach to public service and advocacy.
I am running for state Senate because Western Massachusetts needs a bold, progressive leader who has lived and understands the triumphs and challenges of our region. As a small business owner, a parent, and someone who grew up here, I have the unique experience and perspective to make a meaningful impact in office.
My approach to public service is deeply rooted in where I'm from and how I was raised. I grew up in the Berkshires. My dad was a carpenter and my mom cleaned houses for a living, while my grandparents and great grandparents worked at General Electric and Sprague. Hard work was a virtue in our home, and I started working alongside my mom when I was old enough to lend a hand.
Thanks to the hard work and strong values of my parents and grandparents, I have had opportunities that they did not enjoy. I graduated from Pittsfield public schools (Taconic High School) and became the first person in my family to graduate from college, and then law school.
After law school, I worked as an attorney focused on overturning death penalty cases. Since then, I have continued to practice law in Pittsfield and my husband and I own a small business — The Public Market in West Stockbridge.
We are raising our two boys in the small town where I grew up. There is no better place than the Berkshires to raise a family, but we constantly see the impacts of population decline and lack of jobs and opportunity.
As state senator, I will make growing good jobs and economic opportunity my top priorities. As a small business owner, I have seen real, tangible investments that can grow jobs in the Berkshires. My Economic Investment Plan includes proven strategies to create not just jobs, but careers, for Western Massachusetts. This ranges from investment in job training programs, modernizing vocational education for a 21st century economy, expanding broadband internet, creating regional partnerships and fostering greater collaboration throughout all sectors of business and our colleges and universities, and working to make the Berkshires a national leader in both the green and cultural economy.
I also support key investments in our public schools. I am a proud public school parent and have been active in the school site council for my boys. The student funding formula is not working for Western Massachusetts, and I will be a strong advocate to ensure that our PUBLIC schools, students, and teachers are receiving the resources they need to continue the great education that they provide for our kids.
No dumps, fracking
Last week, I released a detailed environmental agenda, because I believe that protecting the natural beauty of the Berkshires and making Massachusetts more sustainable are important priorities. That is why I have been an outspoken opponent of the proposed PCB dumps in the Berkshires and the proposed fracked gas pipeline.
Finally, we have seen the opioid epidemic claim the lives of our friends and family members. I applaud the work of all those fighting this public health crisis every day, and it was important to see government come together in a bipartisan way to pass meaningful legislation this spring. We must continue to increase access to recovery beds and prioritize treatment over incarceration for non-violent drug offenders and expand the use of drug courts.
It has been incredible meeting thousands of our neighbors in the Berkshires since we launched our campaign this spring. I will continue to work hard to earn your vote, and I encourage you to read more about my plans and priorities at www.andreaforsenate.com.
Andrea Harrington is a candidate for state Senate from the Western District.