State Representative Paul Mark

State Rep. Paul Mark, D-Peru, announces his candidacy for state Senate on Monday in Park Square in Pittsfield. He is running for the seat currently held by state Sen. Adam Hinds, who is running for lieutenant governor.

PITTSFIELD — State Rep. Paul Mark is running to represent the Berkshires in the state Senate, he says, “to really make a difference for working families.”

And he’s doing so with the support of his fellow Berkshire County representatives, local labor leaders and other area Democrats.

Mark, 42, a Peru Democrat first elected in 2010, announced his candidacy for the Senate on Monday in Pittsfield’s Park Square. State Reps. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield; John Barrett III, D-North Adams; and William “Smitty” Pignatelli, D-Lenox, endorsed Mark at the event, which was attended by more than 30 people, including local Democratic officials and activists.

State Sen. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield, is running for lieutenant governor and will not seek reelection in the Senate.

With funds flowing to the state from Washington, Mark sees an opportunity “to undertake projects that are once in a generation and transformational to the region.” He says his record makes him the right person for the job, pledging to build upon his work in the House if voters elect him as senator for the 57-municipality Senate district, which covers all of Berkshire County and parts of Hampshire, Franklin and Hampden counties.

State Representative Paul Mark

State Rep. Paul Mark is running for the state Senate seat that covers 57 Western Massachusetts cities and towns, including all of Berkshire County and parts of Hampshire, Franklin and Hampden Counties. Fellow state representatives, local labor leaders and other Democrats joined Mark, a Peru Democrat first elected in 2010, as he made the announcement in Park Square, Pittsfield. State Sen. Adam Hinds is running for lieutenant governor and will not seek reelection.

“I’ve taken on the fight for Medicare for All and access to health care,” Mark said.

“I’ve taken on the fight for student debt relief and additional funding for vocational programs across our state. I’ve pushed for big and transformative solutions to combat the climate crisis while providing good-paying jobs for our communities and ensuring Western Massachusetts has access to affordable transportation and high-speed broadband.”

Mark’s announcement has been expected after the Legislature’s proposed redistricting maps eliminated Mark’s House district, cutting Berkshire County’s four House seats to three. Had Mark run for reelection, he may have become a Franklin County representative; Farley-Bouvier said she submitted one map to the redistricting committee in which Mark would still have had a House seat.

Liz Recko-Morrison, a union member with the Massachusetts Community College Council, introduced Mark as “a champion of the rights of working families.”

“Paul understands what it’s like to come from a family that doesn’t know whether they are on secure ground,” said Recko-Morrison, Berkshire Community College’s coordinator of assessment and testing. “He understands that unions make lives bearable, in fact move people into the middle class.”

Mark hailed his late father and the late state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi, D-North Adams, as he shared his personal story, from growing up in a union family to his time as a member of the Legislature.

His father, a Teamster, worked in a warehouse until “everything changed” when Mark was 12 and that warehouse shut down.

“The next three years, we struggled financially, lost homes,” Mark said. “There were times when we even went without hot water… There were days when I wouldn’t eat at school so I wouldn’t let other kids know I was on a voucher.”

He spent a year in college before dropping out when he realized he could not afford it, Mark said. Afterward, he worked at Bell Atlantic, now Verizon, and joined the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Union benefits largely paid for his five educational degrees, which include a law degree and another professional doctorate in law and policy.

His and others’ personal experiences — “from working-class cities to rural hill towns, I’ve met family after family who know and feel the struggles,” Mark said — have informed his work on Beacon Hill.

Mark, who said he is the only member of the Legislature from a town of under 1,000 people, has chaired the redistricting committee and now serves as vice chairman for the telecommunications, utilities and energy committee. He has worked on legislation to address student debt, bolster funding for public higher education and promote worker ownership, among other priorities.

Barrett said that once the delegation learned of Hinds’ departure, they wanted Mark to run for Senate.

“Each and every one of us in unison said, ‘Paul has to run. He has to be our candidate,’ ” Barrett said.

Farley-Bouvier said Mark has been “a strong partner in representing and advocating for Pittsfield” and also knows rural communities’ needs.

“For those reasons and for many more, Paul has earned my support for state Senate,” she said.

Pignatelli, who called Mark “the best choice” for Senate, said he and Mark have the two geographically largest districts in the House, although Mark’s district will be eliminated in redistricting.

“Sadly, we’re losing a voice,” Pignatelli said of redistricting. “We’re going to be losing Paul Mark’s voice, but here’s our opportunity to retain Paul Mark’s voice.”

Berkshire County Sheriff Thomas Bowler and Pittsfield City Councilor At-Large Pete White stood behind Mark as he announced his campaign, and Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington and Pittsfield City Councilor At-Large Yuki Cohen also attended.

Mark’s campaign for Senate is holding a meet and greet, its first official event, from 1 to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Becket Arts Center, 7 Brooker Hill Road. He has represented 29 cities and towns across Berkshire, Franklin and Hampshire counties, and he pledged “to spend every hour I possibly can going to every one of [the Senate district’s] 57 cities and towns” during the campaign.

Mark is the first Democrat to enter the race. Former state Sen. Andrea Nuciforo, D-Pittsfield, has said he will not run for the seat he held from 1997 to 2007. Brendan Phair, an independent from Pittsfield, has said he is running.

Democratic primaries are scheduled for September 2022, and the general election will be held that November.

Danny Jin, a Report for America corps member, is The Eagle’s Statehouse news reporter. He can be reached at djin@berkshireeagle.com, @djinreports on Twitter and 413-496-6221.

Statehouse reporter

Danny Jin is the Eagle's Statehouse reporter. A graduate of Williams College, he previously interned at The Eagle and The Christian Science Monitor.