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1st Berkshire District challenger Kingsbury-Evans says State Rep. Barrett mispresented Beacon Hill transparency at North Adams forum

Paula Kingbury-Evans.
Paula Kingsbury-Evans For 1st Berkshire State Rep
Paula Kingbury-Evans.

Recent Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts graduate Paul Kingsbury-Evans is challenging State Representative John Barrett in the September 6th Democratic primary in the 1st Berkshire District. Kingsbury-Evans, who has made governmental transparency a core piece of her platform, says Barrett made misleading statements about the issue at a candidates forum in North Adams Wednesday night. The state representative, who served as mayor of North Adams from 1984 to 2009, took office in a 2017 special election and went unchallenged in 2018 and 2020. WAMC was unable to reach Barrett for comment on this story. Kingsbury-Evans spoke with WAMC this afternoon:

KINGSBURY-EVANS: Right now, there are no required roll call votes on the floor, which means that the votes are not made public after they voted on the bills. The committee votes are not made public. And often more than not, the legislators have less than 72 hours- It's usually a couple hours before the vote that they are given the bill to read. And so one thing that I am really wanting to change in the state house is giving every legislator ample time to read the bills, because I don't understand how they're supposed to vote on a bill that they haven't gotten a chance to read and truly understand and how it will affect their district and their constituents.

A screenshot of text.
Paula Kingsbury-Evans
Kingsbury-Evans' social media post directed at State Representative John Barrett III, posted on August 25th, 2022.

WAMC: Now, today on social media, you took aim at your opponent, Representative John Barrett III, for misrepresenting transparency rules in the legislature. Could you break down for us where you think Mr. Barrett was wrong in his assessment of the transparency of the state governance?

One thing that he said was that it's only the last vote that matters on the floor. And I really, completely disagree with that statement, because it matters to everyone- It matters for everyone to know who is voting and why they're voting on it. And when it's only the last floor vote that's counted, you can't really get a true understanding of why they were voting that way and who everyone was that was voting on the bill. So you can't go back and talk to those people and ask them why they didn't vote that way and try to change their minds and see it from a different perspective. And, yeah, so he said that, and he also mentioned that our state house is more transparent than the Senate. And without having roll call votes at every vote, I don't see how it could be more transparent than the Senate.

When you hear Representative Barrett misrepresent how transparency happens on Beacon Hill, what are the implications of that for the constituents that he serves?

So, because a huge part of this is government transparency and educating voters, when Representative Barrett spoke last night about how there is a lot of transparency, and through my research and talking with other legislators, I've learned how little transparency there is, I felt it was very important to share this information as soon as I can and give him the opportunity to correct himself, because our district deserves a state representative that is going to be frank and honest, and be a true representative from the state house to the constituents and from the constituents to the state house.

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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