Much of Western Massachusetts, including the Berkshires, will suffer a blow when effective and influential state Senator Ben Downing steps down. The important process of replacing him begins September 8.
Adam Hinds, Andrea Harrington and Rinaldo Del Gallo, III will vie for the Democratic nomination that day. The winner will face Republican Christine Canning in November.
A native of Buckland, Mr. Hinds came to the attention of Berkshire residents when he formed the Pittsfield Community Connection, a program to get to at-risk youth before gangs do. His work as director of the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition put him on the front lines of issues related to jobs and the county's opioid addiction problem.
A Berkshire attorney and Richmond native, Ms. Harrington has deep family roots in the Berkshires. Her experience representing indigent criminal defendants in the county and state should make her a progressive voice on Beacon Hill for low- and middle-income individuals and families. Ms. Harrington and her husband own the Public Market in West Stockbridge, which gives her additional insight into economic issues affecting small businesses.
Mr. Del Gallo, a Pittsfield-based attorney, has been active in the county on progressive issues, such as bans on polystyrene foam containers. He is running as a "Bernie Sanders progressive," and as such is advocating middle class issues like raising the minimum wage. Like Senator Sanders, however, he has advocated simplistic, unrealistic wealth distribution arguments that apply only indirectly to the district.
Mr. Hinds came to the Berkshires following 10 years with the United Nations working for progress toward peace in Middle Eastern hot spots. That kind of problem-solving experience should translate to success in the Legislature, where the ability to work through an often Byzantine process is critical. His activism on educational and young adult issues in the Berkshires speaks to his concern for the region and his knowledge of important issues.
All the candidates would advocate traditional Democratic issues, but the variety of Mr. Hinds' experiences are unique, He would seem to have the best chance of evolving into a state senator along the lines of Senator Downing, who has shown versatility in taking the lead in Boston on a variety of issues important to the region. The Eagle endorses Adam Hinds for the Democratic nomination for state Senate from Western Massachusetts.