Another person has decided to run for the western Massachusetts state senate seat held by outgoing Democrat Ben Downing.
Andrea Harrington, an attorney from Richmond, is taking on fellow Democrat Adam Hinds in the race for state senate. The district includes more than 50 communities in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden counties. A Taconic High School graduate, Harrington attended American University Washington College of Law. After practicing law in Florida, she moved back to the Berkshires 10 years ago.
“It’s been a challenge to be a young family making a living here,” Harrington said. “My husband has a business in West Stockbridge. I started my law firm from scratch. It’s been hard for us. I would like my children to be able to move back here and raise their families here.”
Harrington says her main focuses are expanding economic opportunity as well as addressing opioid addiction and crime. Specifically she wants to find ways to lessen the burden energy costs have on business development by looking at alternative sources. Harrington says she is undecided on the proposed Northeast Energy Direct pipeline that would run through the region.
“But I will say that I’m very, very interested in looking at other, better ways to generate energy,” said Harrington.
Harrington has been involved with a local currency effort in southern Berkshire County called BerkShares. The initiative aims to keep money in the region by exchanging federal currency for BerkShares at area banks and more than 400 participating businesses. Harrington says she would like to place a district-wide focus on local businesses, entrepreneurs and farmers.
“There is a lot that can be done to support more local business — people who are really invested in the community that aren’t just going to pick up and leave and take 100 jobs with them,” said Harrington.
Harrington’s opponent, Adam Hinds, was raised in the Franklin County town of Buckland and now directs the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition. He helped create the Pittsfield Community Connection aimed at preventing youth violence after returning to the area following 10 years with the United Nations working in conflict resolution and diplomacy. Having announced his run in February, Hinds says he welcomes another candidate, adding that the issues are the focus of his campaign.
“You really have to put spurring the economy and attracting good paying jobs at the top of that list,” Hinds said. “It’s hard to do that without addressing a range of other issues as well like making sure that our schools remain strong and addressing the very difficult budgetary issues that they face. Particularly in some of our rural areas we’re really under the gun in trying to address the funding formulas that really don’t meet up with some of our rural issues.”
Hinds also points to energy costs as a priority, calling for investments in renewable sources. He says the pipeline is a big issue, but did not take a stance for or against it.
Harrington is planning a campaign kickoff event at 10 a.m. March 8th at her husband’s business — the West Stockbridge Public Market.
Downing announced in January that he would not seek reelection following a decade in the senate. The Democrat said he will not endorse anyone in the race to replace him.