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In scrappy bid against Rep. Mark to replace Hinds in state Senate, Williamstown’s Huff Templeton says he’s the best pick

Huff Templeton

Williamstown, Massachusetts resident Huff Templeton is taking on State Representative Paul Mark in the Democratic primary to replace outgoing State Senator Adam Hinds. After three terms representing the Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin and Hampden district on Beacon Hill, a failed run for lieutenant governor means Hinds is vacating the role at the end of the year. The party establishment has fallen in line behind Mark, who has secured the support of the all-Democratic Berkshire legislative delegation, U.S. Senator Ed Markey, Congressman Jim McGovern, gubernatorial frontrunner and Attorney General Maura Healey, and more. The state representative, first elected, in 2010, is reporting around $100,000 in cash on hand to Templeton’s $4,000 in the closing days of the September 6th primary race. Despite the steep odds, Templeton tells WAMC that he’s confident he’s the best State Senate pick for Western Massachusetts.

TEMPLETON: I come from the Northern Berkshire community, and I have been very active in LGBTQ rights and racial justice, former small business owner. I think we need people with real experience that I have when we are represented in Boston.

WAMC: Now your opponent has substantive experience of his own on the legislative side, having been a state representative for some time. What kind of experience would you offer folks in the Berkshires that Mr. Mark wouldn't be able to?

I think it's more about the ideas that I represent. I'm, for instance, I'm coming out saying that we need a health care system that works for everyone, but we don't need Medicare For All. I think I can represent that we need more money for our highways and chapter 90 funds formula needs to be reexamined. And, you know, I think we were both probably in agreement that the Fair Share Amendment needs to be passed.

So what do you think really differentiates you from Paul Mark? When people go to the polls on September 6th to write in their ballots, what's going to make them move towards the Huff Templeton box?

I think people have been really resonating with my message that we need to make a change. My slogan has been ‘let's make a change,’ and I am really about change and I think my opponent is about same old, same old. So I think there's a clear difference here, and I hope that the voters will choose me.

Now you've talked about using the American Rescue Plan Act funding that the state received in innovative new ways to address long standing issues. If you had a crack at using that federal relief fund, what kind of issues would you direct it toward? And when you talk about innovative ways, what exactly would you want to improve on from your vantage point?

I think we need to invest in redlined communities like the West Side of Pittsfield, and not just invest in small amounts. I think we need to invest in in larger amounts, and I think we need to create programs that work directly with the people, not things that kind of trickle down and eventually help them. So, I really think that this money, and a lot of it can be used flexibly for racial justice, could be directed towards the West Side of Pittsfield and turn that formerly redlined area into a new place where people would gravitate towards.

Now you're alluding to long standing systemic racism within the housing economy, the housing market. Are there other areas you'd want to address systemic inequity issues in Massachusetts?

I really think climate change is becoming a systemic inequity issue. The way that the climate is affecting us is not all the same, and it affects people who have lower means more than it affects people with greater means, even in terms of air conditioning or potholes in the road. So I think that we really need to start to look at climate change from an equity standpoint.

One issue that's been the source of a great amount of debate on Beacon Hill involves criminal justice reform and police oversight. What are your thoughts on the 2018 criminal justice reform bill? And any other thoughts about ways that a police oversight is legislated here in Massachusetts?

Now, I think the police oversight is a hot button. But I don't think that all police, municipalities view it the same way. I had a question about body cameras the other day. I don't think our town in Williamstown is actually, the police department is for body cameras, where, you know, some of the other towns are in favor of body cameras. So I really think that when it comes to policing, it should be a community by community issue. But we need standards we need to make sure that everyone is following the [Peace Officer Standards and Training] standards. And we also, we should start thinking about regionalizing police forces. We do this with our school systems. There's no reason why we can't regionalize some of the police forces that we have in a lot of the small towns.

Are you making any endorsements in other races, namely the DA's race and the sheriff's race?

I'm not making any endorsements in those races. I'm really looking for support from all people and I don't want to do anything that would get in the way of that support. But I do support some of the stances that would that you would think I would support. So anything that promotes racial justice, anything that creates communities and police partnerships that actually work. I think we need to roll up our sleeves here and let policing do its job but let's take the mental health component of policing away from the police, who don't want it.

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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