NBCC Director Adam Hinds Making Run for State Senate
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Adam Hinds is tossing his hat in for state Senate.
Hinds, currently executive director of the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition in North Adams, formally announced for the seat on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. at the Hotel on North.
The invitation event included some 50 friends, colleagues and supporters, and local media. His campaign website is here.
"I live in Pittsfield, work in North County, come from Franklin County," Hinds said of his decision to run as the Democratic nominee. "I'm from the small towns, I understand those issues as well. I think I bring a perspective that covers each area of this district."
He is the first candidate to announce for the seat being vacated by state Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, who has declined to run this year after 10 years in the Senate. Both state Reps. Tricia Farley-Bouver and William "Smitty" Pignatelli had considered running before bowing out.
Hinds said he began considering a run for office after receiving phone calls from supporters after Downing's announcement. He feels his background in conflict resolution - both in the community and internationally - bodes well in continuing the work of the Pittsfield Democrat in the Senate.
"We can only achieve greatness when we confront these challenges together," he told supporters gathered the hotel, which he pointed to as a prime example of public and private collaboration. "My work in organizing community responses to collective challenges in the North County and right here in Pittsfield.
"It's confirmed we're better off when we face these challenges as a community, as a county and as a region."
High on his list of priorities is the population decline that's putting increasing pressure on schools and taxpayers, the opiod crisis and transportation infrastructure. He said economic rejuvenation is key to the region's growth, noting that more than 200 jobs are now going unfilled because residents lack the skills to fill them.
"A thriving economy is often the best remedy for breaking the cycle of poverty and violence," he said. "Strengthening our economy will rquire a multi-pronged approach, one that takes into account workers, employers and the underemployed.
"We should create a clear path for individuals to fill existing positions. We need to think strategically about our future."
Hinds is calling for new ideas and approaches, and a greater emphasis on the region's strengths to promote it as an attractive place to work and live.
"The bottom line is there is a range of critical issues on the horizon that we need to get ahead of," he said.
Hinds was most recently director of the Pittsfield Community Connection, working with high-risk students and their families. Prior to that, he spent nearly 10 years with the United Nations with a focus on dialogue and community conflict mitigation in the Middle East, including working in Iraq on disputes over internal boundaries and promoting talks between Israel and Palestinians.
He grew up in Buckland and graduated from Mohawk Trail Regional High School, before attending Wesleyan University. He also graduated in 2003 from the The Fletcher School at Tufts University, concentrating on international law and conflict resolution.
The Pittsfield resident worked on a campaign for former U.S. Rep. John W. Olver and for then U.S. Sen. John Kerry in his presidential bid before becoming a U.N. negotiator.
Hinds took over as the director of NBCC last September, replacing longtime leader and founder Alan Bashevkin. During his tenure, he's focused on employment opportunities and health care. He was coordinator of Pittsfield's Shannon Grant programs, developing mentoring programs and out-of-school activities for the city's at-risk youth as a way to combat drug use and gang activities.
"It is difficult to think of a better representative for what a public servant should be," Hinds wrote last week on Facebook in response to Downing's decision. "Senator Benjamin Downing has been a thoughtful, compassionate, and effective advocate for western Mass. He has never shied away from an issue just because it might be difficult."
On Wednesday, Hinds said Downing as a model of how he would be as state senator.
"Senator Downing has really raised the bar really high and there would be some really big shoes to fill," he said. "I hope to pick up the torch wether it's the environment or his focus on poverty reduction."
The district covers a large swath of rural Western Mass that includes 52 communities in Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin and Hampden. Its largest communities are the two Berkshire cities of North Adams and Pittsfield and it has a population of about 150,000. The last two holders of the seat have been Democrats, and the two prior were Republicans.
Updated from original article with quotes and images at 1:50 p.m.
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