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Adam Hinds, center, is being sworn in as state senator on Wednesday. (Photo Credit: Antonio Caban / State House News Service)

Hinds Sworn In As State Senator

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Adam Hinds was sworn in Wednesday as the Berkshires' newest state senator.
Hinds took the oath of office in the Senate Chambers on Beacon Hill on Wednesday to serve the Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin and Hampden District. The Pittsfield Democrat won election in November to fill the shoes of Benjamin Downing, who chose not to run for re-election after 10 years in office.
"It was a profound honor to be sworn in today, during the opening proceedings of the 190th session of the General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts," Hinds said on Wednesday. "What a privilege it is to start the work of representing all citizens of the Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin and Hampden District."
Since November, Hinds held a number of public meetings to help "define our agenda" and will now spend the next three weeks turning what he heard into bills or support for bills, which need to be filed by Jan. 20. He said he is particularly focused on "getting the fundamentals" right, which include the district's infrastructure, education, and economic development. 
"There is a lot of work and that process was creating an agenda for working families," Hinds said.
He said he's looking at policies to help small and medium-sized companies, worker needs such as paid family leave and reducing the cost of child care, and fixing the education funding from preschool all the way through college. 
However, committee assignments are still a month or so away. Senate President Stanley Rosenberg has asked for each senator's preference and he has a wide range of topics he'd like to address.
"It's critical to be part of the conversation on jobs, on education, on energy and the environment — all of the fundamentals," Hinds said.
He is also in the process of opening offices and hiring his staff. He had already picked Bethann Steiner to be his chief of staff, a position she had for nine years under Downing. And he plans to open not just one district office, but two.
"We'll have one right in downtown Pittsfield and another in Williamsburg to focus on the hilltowns," Hinds said.
The legislative session will start out somewhat slow in the beginning as lawmakers write and file bills. But Hinds did get to cast one vote on Wednesday and that was to re-elect Rosenberg as the Senate president. 
"I've been impressed right from the start about his openness and transparency," Hinds said of the Amherst Democrat.
Rosenberg was unanimously chosen as president. 
"I want to thank my colleagues for their support and allowing me to continue to preside over the Senate in this new term. There are many issues we need to tackle in this session. I look forward to working with my colleagues to make real positive change for the people of Massachusetts," Rosenberg said in a statement released Wednesday.
Hinds has worked in politics in the past but hadn't been an elected official until just now. He said sitting in those chambers as a senator makes "the weight of the privilege so much more profound." 
"It feels all the more important when it is me sitting in that chair to work hard every moment I'm awake," Hinds said. "It really is a privilege and an honor."
Hinds has been given a temporary office in the State House — 413-F — and an official email account. He expects to release more information about the offices, his staff, and contact information in the coming weeks.
"This is a humbling way to start this new year, a year that must be one where we do all we can to ensure everyone has the opportunity to thrive. I couldn't be more proud to do that work with all of you," Hinds said.

Tags: Hinds,   State House,   State Senate,   swearing in,   

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Holyoke Mayor Morse Challenges Neal In Congressional Race

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff

Morse is joined by a large crowd of supporters at the Unicorn Inn on Monday night.
HOLYOKE, Mass. — They said he couldn't do it.
There is no way a 21-year-old, turning 22, could defeat an incumbent mayor with years of political experience. And there was no way the city of Holyoke was ever going to be as good as it had been.
"When I ran for mayor eight years ago, people had a few things to say. They said No. 1, wait your turn. No. 2 maybe run for something else. Or No. 3, don't run at all, you are too young, too gay, too progressive, you are not going get elected here in the city of Holyoke," Alex Morse said at the Unicorn Inn on Monday night to a crowd full of supporters.
"And what did we do?"
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