State Sen. Adam Hinds and his wife have bought a home outside the district Hinds has represented since 2017, although Hinds said Thursday that the couple and their newborn child will continue to spend most of their time in Pittsfield.
The couple purchased a $690,000 property at 762 North East St. in Amherst, according to documents publicly accessible at MassLandRecords.com. A “declaration of homestead,” which they signed and filed April 22 with the Hampshire District Registry of Deeds, states that they “intend to occupy said premises as my/our principal residence.”
Hinds said Thursday, however, that he and his wife, Alicia Mireles Christoff, an associate professor of English at Amherst College, plan to live in Pittsfield most of the time. He viewed the declaration of homestead “as part of the normal process of purchasing a property,” he said, and did not anticipate any effect on his ability to run for reelection in November 2022 should he choose to do so.
It was not immediately clear whether a declaration of homestead may pose a potential hurdle for demonstrating in-district residency, which is required for election to the Senate. Former state Sen. Stanley Rosenberg, who represented the Hampshire, Franklin and Worcester district from 1991 to 2018, won reelection six times after declaring a homestead at a Boston condominium.
Hinds, D-Pittsfield, has for seven years rented an apartment in the city, from which he has represented the 52 towns in the Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin and Hampden district.
He and Christoff welcomed their first child on May 27. They will continue living together with their child at the Pittsfield apartment, where Christoff has lived for two years since their marriage. They sometimes may stay in Amherst during the week because it shortens Hinds’ commute to Boston, he said, and is near Christoff’s workplace.
While the purchase may fuel speculation over whether Hinds will seek another term, the senator said he remains “committed as ever to fight for the district and for Massachusetts.” He has yet to decide on any future political plans, he said.
A Monday story from The Boston Globe mentioned Hinds, who told the Globe that he was seriously considering running for statewide office, in a discussion of possible Democratic candidates for lieutenant governor. When asked Thursday, Hinds said he felt the Globe story was “accurate,” and he said he is considering how his background and skills suit different offices.
“I’ve been asked to consider running on numerous occasions by numerous people and I’m humbled by that,” Hinds said. “I think we have some thinking to do, but right now we’re focused on the baby and all of the work that we have to do in the Senate, which is significant, including finishing the budget.”
Hinds said he “hadn’t thought of” possible implications of the declaration of homestead on his ability to run for reelection.
Article XCII, Section 2 in the articles of amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution states that to be elected senator, a person must be “an inhabitant of the district for which he is chosen” at the time of their election.
Hinds said he views the transaction as similar to ones that other Western Massachusetts lawmakers have made for personal convenience. Former state Sen. Ben Downing, who represented the same district from Pittsfield, filed a declaration of homestead at a Boston home in 2016, after he had announced he would not seek reelection.
“We just decided that given [Christoff’s] place of work and a new child, buying a place that’s closer to her and closer to Boston was a solution that we found workable,” Hinds said. “We did feel that Amherst would be a place where we could stay midweek, and having a second location as needed was valuable ... to balance our multiple needs.”
A declaration of homestead serves mainly as protection against bankruptcy, according to a member of Hinds’ staff.
It is highly unlikely that redistricting will make Amherst part of Hinds’ existing district, the staff member said. Hinds said in April that in the upcoming redistricting cycle, he expects that his district will need to pick up an additional 15,000 to 20,000 in population to get to the 170,000 range necessary for Massachusetts Senate districts.
The 2010 census recorded a population of 37,819 in Amherst, and the town is represented by state Sen. Jo Comerford, D-Northampton.
All 40 state senators are up for reelection in 2022. Brendan Phair, a Pittsfield man who identifies as a conservative and is not affiliated with a political party, has said he will challenge Hinds for the seat.