Alan Chartock | I, Publius: State Senate primary candidates should be judged on merits


GREAT BARRINGTON >> Here comes the Sept. 8 state senatorial primary.

And since the victorious Democrat likely will win the election — a Republican candidate winning in the Berkshires seems far-fetched — the three way race is big news.

I love this one because it shows that there are times when democracy really works. Three candidates, Andrea Harrington, Adam Hinds and Rinaldo Del Gallo, are running.

The winner will face Republican candidate Christine Canning in November.

Hinds is an attractive candidate. When you meet him you can't help but like him. Despite a very impressive educational background he just makes you feel that he is a regular guy.

His resume is extraordinarily impressive. His list of endorsements is incredible, ranging from former U.S. Rep. John Olver to a series of impressive unions.

The man has worked like a dog to win. He went to Wesleyan and studied at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts. His father was a Vietnam vet, his mother a school teacher. He is the real thing. He seeks to replace Sen. Benjamin B. Downing and what's remarkable is how alike the two men look. Hinds speaks extremely well and is clearly the leading candidate in this election.

Andrea Harrington is a wonderful, smart (even brilliant) woman who goes out of her way to help people. She and her husband own one of my favorite Berkshire establishments, the Public Market in West Stockbridge. Harrington has a number of things going for her including the fact that she is a young woman and we certainly need a lot more women in politics.

She is skilled attorney, a partner in a good Berkshire law firm and has earned her liberal credentials by playing a big part in the Florida effort to overturn the death penalty. She's local, too.

In case you haven't looked, criminal justice reform is at the top of almost every center left liberal's bucket list. Like Hinds, Harrington has worked extraordinarily hard. Her signs are all over the place.

Also like Hinds, she spends a lot of time going door to door and this young mother would bring a perspective of youth and motherhood to a Senate that needs a lot more like her. If you talk to her for 5 minutes you realize that she's tough enough for the job.

Rinaldo Del Gallo considers himself a liberal Democrat, a spokesman for fathers in custody battles and a sometimes journalist who writes columns for this and other papers.

A member of the Massachusetts bar since 1996, he went to Pittsfield High School and Northeastern University in Boston. His name is surely familiar as an early supporter of Bernie Sanders campaign for the presidency. He is in favor of the $15 minimum wage.

Del Gallo has been active in civic matters in Pittsfield and Berkshire County, and he was instrumental in helping Pittsfield draft its prohibition on polystyrene food containers. He currently is working with the city's Green Committee to expand that prohibition to single-use plastic shopping bags.

He has a law practice and often represents clients in family law matters, and he is the spokesperson for the Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition.

But against the other two candidates, a lifetime in this business tells me that he's a long shot.

This is one of those elections in which you just wish there could be more than one winner.

Ben Downing should be the model for his successor. Let me just say that this is one tough job. Because of the number of bodies who are registered to vote, the covered area is huge.

If you come home to the district nightly, you have a two-hour commute. Everyone wants something from you and you have to listen to each supplicant. Plus you have to keep looking for money, a process that never stops.

Harrington, who has small children, understands the balance that is needed. Some people do not.

This is the worst kind of sexist trap. I have a wife who worked all her life and we got through it. Much of one salary went for child care and Roselle was able to get a doctorate at UMass, a herculean commute, and that after all her work at Monument Mountain.

My own mother did the same thing, working full time in our schools, teaching at Hunter at night, and while her twins undoubtedly have the same difficulties everyone else does, we both did OK.

My point is that both Hinds and Harrington are great candidates and should be judged by what they have accomplished. I just want to make sure that credentials and the ability to do the job come first and that extraneous, sexist issues are not allowed to distract.

This is a good election and it gives us the opportunity to vote for someone good, as opposed to the lesser of two evils.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of The Berkshire Eagle.


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