State Sen. Benjamin Downing endorsed Hinds on Friday to follow in his footsteps.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The common theme Friday night, when Adam Hinds relaunched his campaign for state Senate, was unity.
Hinds won the Democratic nomination for the state Senate seat being vacated by Benjamin Downing. Hinds now takes on Republican Christine Canning-Wilson in the Nov. 8 general election.
On Friday, Hinds held a kickoff for the general election campaign featuring Downing, former U.S. Rep. John Olver, and Senate President Stanley Rosenberg. To a crowd full of elected officials and local leaders, the three rallied support for Hinds around the concept of unity.
"Leaders in any part of our community, in one form or another, they are all bridge builders. It is incredibly easy to try and tear something down. It is incredibly easy to be the person who just points out what is wrong. It is easy to offer a seductively simple solution to a problem and then say somebody else ought to do it," Downing said. "What is far more difficult is to be the person who rolls up their sleeves and says 'how do we actually make this real? How do we begin to solve this problem.'"
For Downing, Hinds has shown that ability. Hinds first got into politics by working for Olver's election campaign and he returned to manage a second Olver campaign. He later worked for the United Nations in the Middle East and returned to Pittsfield to head the Pittsfield Community Connection. Most recently, he headed the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition, taking leave to run for Downing's seat.
"I've seen it in Adams Hinds as well. I've seen it in the work he's done here in Pittsfield, to roll up his sleeves and tackle problems, to try to work with anyone and listen to everyone, who is willing to be part of the solution, who wanted to make this community a safer place," Downing said.
All of the speakers praised Hinds ability to build coalitions to solve problems and Hinds himself echoed his commitment to do that.
"When the next developer wants to come into town or we have a ballot initiative or we are talking about gun control versus gun rights, the intuition of a lot of folks is to retreat into my corner, the group I feel comfortable with, and lob an attack over my shoulder and hope for the best. My experience has shown me that is the exact wrong approach. We're going to be better off when we figure out how to work together," Hinds said.
"If we are talking about how we are going to spur our economy in this district, it means making sure you have not only the employers who are looking for the workforce but have the workers themselves, the ones looking for a job. You better have them all in the room if you are going to fulfill that goal of workforce development. Similarly, addressing energy costs and accelerating to renewable energy, you better have everybody in the room and you are going to get there. We are all going to get there much quicker if we are going to work together."
Hinds said his grandfather moved from England to America at the age of 17. He worked sweeping floors for the Boy's Club of America and 55 years later retired as national president. But, that hope is fading now, he said, and many people don't feel they have those same opportunities.
"I often think this district is at a bit of a crossroads as well. It is hard to follow that path my grandfather did, knowing that if you work hard you can rest in the security that you are going to have a job for the rest of your life, good retirement, and your kids are going to be safe too. That's not as easy these days," Hinds said.
He said there needs to be focus on the economics, infrastructure such as broadband, and an emphasis on tackling the population lose situation. Hinds said his focus isn't on the national scale of these issues but instead "income inequality right here, concentrations of poverty right here." He believes the way to do that is to be inspiring and bring together all players.
"We know we have so much potential here if we can come together and realize it," Hinds said. "That's part of who I am. That is my belief."
In the State House, that ability means even more, said Rosenberg. The Senate president said the Western Massachusetts delegates need to come together to support each other in order to accomplish anything because the eastern part of the state vastly outnumbers the rest.
"We here in Western Massachusetts have to build coalitions and work together across these four western counties and even extending into Worcester County to really have our voices heard in Boston. There are more legislators that represent the city of Boston than the entire western counties of Massachusetts. If we don't work together and learn each other's strengths and capacities, form teams, and push hard together then we don't get what we need out here," Rosenberg said.
He said his job to find the skills each senator possess and put them to the best use on Beacon Hill.
"You will bring some very unique talents and experience to the Senate, in particular I am really looking forward to figuring out how to use the skills and talents of a guy who worked in the United Nations trying to get nations to work together as we try to get people in this legislature and this government working together," Rosenberg said.
Downing said that is the only way to "start" on solving problems. He said the issues facing Western Massachusetts are complicated and the first step is gaining trust and finding common ground among all of the players and start making progress — in being willing to be part of solutions. He said there are a lot of people frustrated with the way things are going in the district but that there is hope if people can rally together to tackle the problems.
"You could offer people simple solutions that doesn't solve the problem at all but might make them feel good in the short term, or you can deal with people honestly and with a straightforward manner. You can listen to them and you can respect them, invite them to be part of the process, engage them and ask them to be citizens in their communities and be part of the solution," Downing said.
Rosenberg, Downing, and Hinds all worked for Olver at some point.
"The thing that excites me the most about Adam Hinds being our next state senator, the reason I am excited to support him, is that in every role he has been in from his time serving our country in the UN to his time serving Pittsfield to serving his role at the head of the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition, in every one of those roles, it has been about bringing people together. It has been about building bridges."
Olver was one of Hinds' first major endorsements during the primary campaign. Now retired, Olver doesn't come out to Pittsfield as often but made the trip Friday to support the campaign.
"He has served this country well. He was also a staff member in my campaign for two different campaigns. I know the kind of work he can do. I know that he has served us all in the United Nations in difficult times in Iraq and then in less difficult times in New York City. That will serve him exceedingly well," Olver said.
"I am convinced he will serve you very, very well."
When it comes to serving the district Hinds said he will serve whichever role he needs to solve the problems - whether that means being a facilitator, convening groups together, bringing resources, or simply getting out of the way.
"Join me if you think politics can be inspiring. Join me if it is characterized by working together to take on the big issues that we face right here. Join me if it is about doing what is right and putting together an agenda for the region that we can really put our shoulders into," Hinds said.
The audience featured multiple elected officials including state Reps. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, Tricia Farley-Bouvier, Paul Mark, Gailanne Cariddi, Stephen Kulik, Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer, North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright, Register of Deeds Patsy Harris, Sheriff Thomas Bowler, former state Rep. Sherwood Guernsey, Pittsfield City Councilors Donna Todd Rivers, Nicholas Caccamo, Peter White, Anthony Simonelli, North Adams City Councilor Lisa Blackmer, and Lenox Selectman Channing Gibson. Andrea Harrington, who lost the primary to Hinds, and Michael Bloomberg, who lost a primary for state representative Farley-Bouvier, were also both in the audience.
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