John Barrett III wins 1st Berkshire District state representative seat

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NORTH ADAMS — Democrat John Barrett III, a 26-year mayor of North Adams, will be the next 1st Berkshire District state representative after winning Tuesday's election in a decisive victory.

The final vote was 4,733 for Barrett and 1,415 for Republican Christine Canning.

The 1st Berkshire District consists of the city of North Adams and the towns of Adams, Cheshire, Clarksburg, Florida, Hancock, Lanesborough, New Ashford and Williamstown.

Unlike other people elected this month, Barrett, 70, will be sworn into action right away instead of waiting until January. Barrett is serving the remainder of Rep. Gailanne Cariddi's term. Cariddi died in June after being ill with cancer.

Barrett, whose political agenda includes getting more funding for Berkshire County public schools and growing workforce training programs, said the win feels overwhelming and positive.

"I've had many victories, but still I'm humbled by it being this large," Barrett said Tuesday night of the final tally.

"I'm going to be a great voice in Boston. I'm going to let them know about us," he said.

Canning did not respond to a telephone call seeking comment Tuesday night.

Barrett won each municipality in his district, earning 2,588 in his hometown of North Adams, Canning received 681 votes there. Canning came the closest to winning a municipality's vote in Lanesborough, her hometown, where she earned 112 votes to Barrett's 142.

"People believed in my plan, with my goal of economic development," said Barrett. "Now, it's time to get to it."

When Barrett begins his term as a state representative, he will be thrown into ongoing debates on Beacon Hill about criminal justice reform, health care and the budget in addition to pushing Boston to address the needs of Berkshire County residents.

"I think we have an opportunity to work with his experience on economic development and revitalization," said state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox. "I look forward to working with (Barrett) not only on a personal level but on a professional level, too."

During his campaign, Barrett touted his experience as a longtime mayor of North Adams from 1984 to 2009 and as the former executive director of the BerkshireWorks career center in Pittsfield for two years after his departure from office. The North Adams resident has promised to fight for the revision of the state's Chapter 70 funding formula for local schools, which he argues doesn't benefit rural school districts like those in Northern Berkshire County. He also said that he wants to see improved workforce training programs in Massachusetts.

"Soon after the new year starts we'll be getting into the budget season," said state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield. "Advocating for the 1st Berkshire District is, of course, so important to the budget process. It'll be good to have him there."

Barrett's partial term will expire Jan. 19, 2019. Another election for a full term of the 1st Berkshire District seat in the Massachusetts House of Representatives will take place in November of 2018.

"It's great to see such a good win for a Democrat," said state Rep. Paul Mark, D-Peru. "I think he's going to bring a unique perspective having been a mayor for over 20 years. I don't think anyone else in the Legislature has that kind of experience and I think he has a good command of the issues. He's going to be a strong advocate for the 1st Berkshire District."

Kristin Palpini can be reached at kpalpini@berkshireeagle.com and @kristinpalpini on Twitter.


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