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Berkshire delegation rallies around Mark’s state Senate campaign at Pittsfield kickoff

A group of people holding Paul Mark signs stand in a park on a grey, wet autumn day while a white man in a red sweater speaks at a lectern.
Josh Landes
The full Berkshire County House legislative delegation was on hand for Paul Mark's state Senate campaign kickoff: Tricia Farley-Bouvier (Left, holding a black and white umbrella), Paul Mark (to Farley-Bouvier's right wearing a blue jacket), John Barrett (at lectern) and Smitty Pignatelli (to Barrett's right).

At Massachusetts State Representative Paul Mark’s campaign kickoff in Pittsfield today, his fellow Berkshire County legislators presented a united front behind his state Senate bid.

Mark represents the 2nd Berkshire district, which will disappear if proposed redistricting maps released last week are finalized. The Democrat has represented the district, which covers a slice of Pittsfield and a largely rural territory in Berkshire and Franklin Counties, for a decade.

With fellow Democrat State Senator Adam Hinds running for lieutenant governor in 2022, Mark is looking to trade up on Beacon Hill.

Reached for comment Monday, Hinds did not endorse Mark, saying he was focusing on his own campaign.

Mark made the announcement surrounded by supporters and the all-Democratic Berkshire County House legislative delegation at Park Square Monday afternoon.

“The people of this district deserve a dedicated advocate," said the candidate. "COVID has devastated our communities. It has destroyed many small businesses, and it has exasperated the divide between the wealthy and the folks struggling to put food on the table. It has made so many of us realize that we were closer to the edge of financial disaster than we ever knew. At this moment, we have a unique opportunity to develop policies and a state budget that not only heals our economy, but recreates and re-envisions our government in a way that truly supports our families, our neighbors and those who are most in need. That is the work I'm committed to and why today I am really honored to announce that I will be a candidate to represent the 57 communities of the Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin and Hamden Senate District next year.”

Mark, a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, spoke about his support of working families and access to education. His fellow legislators offered unanimous endorsements for his new political venture.

“Paul Mark has not only been my friend, and somewhat of a mentor to me, as I entered the legislature just about a year after he did, but he's also been a strong partner in representing and advocating for Pittsfield," said 3rd Berkshire District State Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier. “Paul also knows the needs of rural communities, which in this senate district, which is vast and complicated, is incredibly important. And for those reasons, and for many more, Paul has earned my support for state Senate and I'm pleased to be here today.”

“I am here sincerely because I believe [Mark] is the best candidate," said 1st Berkshire District State Representative John Barrett. "In fact, when we heard that Senator Hinds would be leaving, which we learned about several weeks ago, the delegation, each and every one of us in unison said, 'Paul has to run. He has to be our candidate.'”

“I did a little bit of research last night preparing for today. I went back seven state Senators from the Berkshires. Paul Mark will be the very first one to have had direct legislative experience going into the Senate. I think that speaks volumes," said 4th Berkshire District State Representative Smitty Pignatelli. “We saw the maps that came out with our redistricting the other day, sadly, we're losing a voice. We are going to be losing Paul Mark's voice. But here's our opportunity to retain Paul Mark's voice. And we have three state representatives left with only Berkshire communities. Representative Barrett won’t be pulled into Franklin County. I won't be getting pulled into Hampden County. Our focus will be primarily on the Berkshires, and to have a voice in the state Senate from the Berkshires whose primary focus will be on what we're all about – I think Paul Mark is terrific.”

Berkshire County Sheriff Thomas Bowler and At-Large Pittsfield City Councilor Pete White were among the sign-holders at the event, also attended by Berkshire County District Attorney Andrea Harrington, At-Large Pittsfield City Councilor Yuki Cohen and more.

Harrington told WAMC she is not officially endorsing Mark at this time, but was there to support him as a friend.

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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