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Entire Berkshire State Delegation Proceeds To General Election Unopposed

A map of Berkshire County with four regions highlighted
The four districts of Berkshire County's state representatives.

All five members of Berkshire County’s legislative delegation went unchallenged in the Massachusetts Democratic primary on Tuesday.

Berkshire County’s four state representatives and state senator are Democrats. As the entire slate moves on to November with no resistance, there’s still much to resolve in the mess of 2020 before looking into the future.

“This is a unique year because we have an extension to this year’s legislative session. So the two-year term typically ends on July 31st, and because of COVID especially but a number of reasons we extended that. So we have a number of bills that are still outstanding and a budget that is still not finished," said State Senator Adam Hinds, who ran unopposed for the first time as he seeks a third term. “We have four or five major pieces of legislation that we still need to complete, mostly because they’re in conference committees and working out differences between the House and Senate versions. And that’s a major climate bill, we have a police reform bill, we have a transportation bond bill, an economic development bond bill, and a few other smaller items.”

State Representative John Barrett of the Northern 1st Berkshire District is running for his second full term after entering the legislature in a 2017 special election and winning reelection in 2018. He says that the lack of a challenger has allowed him to devote more time to constituent services amid the strain of the pandemic.

“The average person cannot call up and get things done, which that means it falls back to the local legislators to try to help them cut through the red tape at a time when everybody, basically, in state government has been working from home,” he told WAMC.

2nd Berkshire District State Representative Paul Mark – whose constituents include the county’s northeast corner as well as part of Franklin County – says the coming year will be his biggest yet as he runs unopposed for a sixth term. With Census counting wrapping up September 30th, a key position he holds in the statehouse will go into full effect.

“So I’ve been the chair of redistricting for the past four years, and I’m assuming that I’m going to continue in that role when the new term starts in January," said Mark. "And so redistricting, the process is actually going to happen next year. Under the state constitution, we are required to undertake the redistricting process in the year following the census.”

Once new population numbers are reported from the federal government in the spring, Mark’s committee will start crafting new political boundaries in the Bay State.

“We continue to make sure that the public has as much time and as much of a voice as possible to weigh in and let us know what they think these districts should look like," said the state rep. "And it’s going to affect every congressional district, it’s going to affect every state House district and every state Senate district. So it’s a lot of work, and we’re going to operate on a pretty short timeframe which is why it’s been good to have a couple years of prep and estimates and getting ready, because we have to have – for the state House members – have to be done first. They have to be law by November 1st of next year.”

3rd Berkshire District State Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier – who won a special election in 2011 and is now running for her fifth term – represents most of the county’s largest community, Pittsfield. She says she used her unopposed primary time to campaign for U.S. Senator Ed Markey, who defeated Congressman Joe Kennedy III.

“My emphasis has always been on supporting vulnerable populations. The seniors, vulnerable children – particularly foster children and foster parents," said Farley-Bouvier. "And those with disabilities.”

The delegation’s longest-tenured member, Smitty Pignatelli, represents the 4th Berkshire District, which covers the county’s southern quadrant. He’s running for a 10th term on Beacon Hill.

“Going into the next session, I think we have some great opportunities to really talk about infrastructure," said Pignatelli. "As you know, I’ve been a big champion of West-East rail. I think we’re going to lean very heavily on the federal delegation to deliver some resources for that. But we have a lot of work to do. Unemployment is still a chronic problem. Getting the economy back going again I think is going to be really paramount. We’ve lost Tanglewood and Jacob’s Pillow and so many of our culturals this year. It’s going to be a long winter for our restaurants and our hotels. So I think when we get back to session, the next session in January, I think the focus has to be on getting the economy going with or without a vaccine, but getting the economy going one way or the other.”

The general election is November 3rd.

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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