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Hinds gives a short stump speech at his new headquarters on Tuesday.

Senate Candidate Hinds Opens Pittsfield Headquarters

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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More than two dozen supporters stopped by to check out the new office space.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Senate Candidate Adam Hinds opened a downtown office on Tuesday.
Hinds is running against Andrea Harrington for the Democratic nomination for the Berkshire state Senate seat being left vacant by Benjamin Downing, who opted not to run for re-election.
Rindaldo Del Gallo has said he plans to run but has not yet jumped into the race. 
The Northern Berkshire Community Coalition Executive Director Hinds held an open house at his new office on South Street — in the plaza at the Crowne Plaza — which had previously been used as the headquarters for the coordinated Democratic campaign for governor.
"To us this feels like an important pivot. We're getting to the point now where we are going to be pushing our powerful, positive message out to all of the voters in the district," Hinds said. 
Hinds addressed more than two dozen supporters, touching on many of the talking points of his platform. He said it's time to start the groundwork to ramp up the campaign the next level.
"It's a progressive message that says we are going to make sure any obstacles to opportunities felt by kids, or by working families trying to get a good quality job, or small businesses looking to grow in the district, this is what we are going to be focusing on," Hinds said.
Heading volunteer efforts out of the Pittsfield office is Donna Todd Rivers, who is the Ward 5 councilor in Pittsfield. Jason Ostrander is heading South County efforts; Brian Miksic, North County operations; and Jenny Gitlitz will be in the hilltowns. Beyond that, Hinds says he has a team of volunteers to work the campaign. 
Hinds has released a campaign platform focused on economics, education, energy, stopping the heroin epidemic, and reversing the population loss. On Tuesday, he touched briefly on those topics again in a short stump speech. 
He said his focus will be to bring groups of people to gather to "work shoulder to shoulder" to solve complicated problems. He boasted of such efforts in Pittsfield when he headed the Pittsfield Community Connection program and now in North County at the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition.
Hinds cited as an example a new program through the NBCC eyed to bring employers and job seekers together to solve the disconnect between those unemployed and companies that can't find qualified workers. He also voiced support of the Berkshire Innovation Center, broadband expansion, improved transportation. Those efforts, he says, will help attract businesses and create jobs which will help combat population lose.
Hinds also said he'd focus on funding for the public school system in order to help provide the best education possible, which in turn will attract families here. 
"It is hard for schools to meet their fixed cost in the face of dwindling population. We know that Chapter 70 doesn't work for us out here. Schools are spending 140 percent more on health than the foundation formula allocates for, they are spending 59 percent more on special ed than the foundation budget formula allocates," Hinds said.
He also mentioned fighting crime and protecting the environment. He added that there is an "urgency" to the campaign and getting to work on combating those challenges the Berkshires face, he said. 
Beyond the challenges he also voiced support for the arts and culture scene, the natural resources, and things that make the Berkshires "a great place."
"I actually like campaigning," Hinds said. "When else can you spend your days talking to folks about the concerns they have and the vision they have for the future and then actually do something about it, to make a platform and priorities you want to take to Boston and make a difference."

Tags: campaign,   Democrat,   election 2016,   State Senate,   

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Regional Planning Commission Tackling County Housing Issue

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Berkshire Regional Planning Commission is taking steps to address the ever-growing problem of housing that Berkshire County faces.

"What we have been hearing and learning is that housing is becoming increasingly a problem in Berkshire County," Executive Director Tom Matuszko said at Thursday's commission meeting. "And a problem for a number of different ways and a number of different venues."

BRPC has partnered with countywide economic development organization 1Berkshire to develop a regional housing strategy, a policy that will set the stage for solutions and legislative support. The commission's former director, Nathaniel Karns has agreed to take this project on and help shepherd it through the process.

Matuszko explained that a group of planners and other housing-related entities has been formed to develop the regional strategy. This group will dive into the issue of housing in Berkshire County and brainstorm solutions whether it be a legislative fix, additional funding, or another programmatic element from the state government.

This initiative is not just about affordable or subsidized housing, Matuszko said, because you have to have higher-end housing for those in the applicable income bracket to move into, which then frees up more affordable housing for another group.

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