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MCLA Senior Kingsbury-Evans will challenge Barrett for 1st Berkshire seat

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Paula Kingsbury-Evans
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Paula Kingsbury-Evans.

Paula Kingsbury-Evans is a 22-year-old senior at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams. Today, the self-described progressive announced her candidacy in September’s Democratic primary for the 1st Berkshire District House seat. Representative John Barrett, the former North Adams mayor who first won the seat in a special 2017 election and faced no opposition in the 2018 or 2020 elections, has indicated he intends to seek re-election. WAMC spoke with Kingsbury-Evans.

KINGSBURY-EVANS: I am not a very political person. I never really have been. I just, I want to be the middleman between the people and the state government, I want to be there to help the people, I don't want to be a politician in the “West Wing” sense of the word. I identify as a progressive because I agree with a lot of the other progressive politicians that are in the White House, in the Senate.

WAMC: Now, looking at the 1st Berkshire District, what do you see as the biggest issues facing the region that you would want to talk about and represent on Beacon Hill?

The first big one is public transportation in this area. There's not very much of it. And even then, the public transportation that we have takes a really long time for people to get places and might not align with their schedule very well. So I would love to see an increase in access to the public transportation, an increase in knowledge in the community about what our public transportation system is. And in addition, upgrading the buses, having them use more green and clean energies, and then also our roads and infrastructure is in great disrepair right now. I'm sure you've seen it on Route 8 from Adams to North Adams. Sometimes it feels unsafe to drive in that outside lane there. And so finding- Or not finding, but getting more funding for this county to repair and do damage control or preventative measures on our roads and infrastructure is something that's really important to me, because I want the residents that live here to feel safe getting around and safe in the buildings. But I also want the tourists that are coming here to visit us to have a good experience and to want to come back and just feel safe when they're traveling around here. That's another part of the public transportation, is, if we are upgrading it and creating more public transportation, there's more of a chance that we'll have tourists using it and it'll be easier for them to get into the Berkshires and around the Berkshires as well. And I also am really interested in finding ways to create more green energy. As I mentioned, the bus line, possibly upgrading the buses to use, like, not fossil fuels. The climate crisis that we're in right now has become even more evident over this past winter when it was just like really wet. It was just hard to move the snow around. And that's because of climate change. So helping residents find affordable solutions to green energy and finding ways to save their energy and save them money as a part of that is something that I know that I'm dealing with every day because I don't want my gas bill to be super high because the heating is escaping from my apartment that isn't well insulated and stuff like that.

So let me ask you about the current inhabitant of the seat- John Barrett, a long standing political figure in Northern Berkshire County. What differentiates your campaign from his, and why would you be a better choice for voters in Berkshire County?

I'm really interested in creating more transparency in the day-to-day government happenings in the statehouse, such as implementing roll call vote, and also creating more voter access and voter registration access, like same day voter registration. I want the community members to be knowledgeable about what is happening in the government if they choose to want to know this information, but I want it to be very easily accessible to them and I want them to know exactly how their state rep is voting and what they're doing to represent the community in the government.

Incumbent John Barrett did not respond to requests for comment.

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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