Sunday, April 3, 2016
2016 Berkshire State Senator campaign features Rinaldo Del Gallo III, Andrea Harrington, Adam Hinds, and Christine Canning
Rinaldo Del Gallo, III
Adam Hinds (Photo by Jim Levulis, WAMC)
Christine Canning (Facebook: Christine Canning-Wilson)
"More Contenders In Western Mass. Senate Race"
By Jim Levulis, WAMC, March 31, 2016
Two more potential contenders for a western Massachusetts senate seat have emerged.
Another Democrat and the first Republican candidate appear to be eyeing a bid for the senate seat held by Ben Downing. The Pittsfield Democrat announced in January that he was retiring after 10 years. Pittsfield attorney Rinaldo Del Gallo has taken out nominating papers, but is holding back on a full-out campaign citing the potential costs of running. Seeking the Democratic nomination, Del Gallo says he is for a $15 minimum wage, universal pre-K and single-payer healthcare along with tuition-free state and debt-free college.
“Berkshire County is a very, very progressive community by in large,” Del Gallo said. “They need a progressive leader. I am that Bernie Sanders progressive. That’s why, if I run, that’s why I’d be in the race.”
Del Gallo has been vocal on a number of environmental issues in the area, including leading the charge for a Styrofoam ban in Pittsfield. He says combating economic despair in the region is his number one issue.
“In terms of economic development, for a very long time now I’ve been talking about trying to make the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority something that works with tax incentives and to streamline regulations, not eliminate regulation, but at least streamline it so people aren’t trying to get permits forever,” he said. “If you look at Ft. Devens or Albany — the nano-technology area — it’s worked. It’s not a new idea at all. It’s a time-tested idea, but we haven’t tried it here.”
Christine Canning of Lanesborough is reportedly the first Republican to take out nominating papers for the seat. She could not be reached in time for broadcast.
Adam Hinds and Andrea Harrington announced their bids for the Democratic nod in February and March, respectively.
On the major regional issues — all three Democrats are opposed to the proposed Northeast Energy Direct natural gas pipeline that would cut through the region.
Meanwhile, some in the northern Berkshires have continued to call for the restoration of a full-service hospital two years after North Adams Regional Hospital closed. Harrington, an attorney from Richmond, says she does not know if a full-service hospital is viable in the region, but adds that if it is, it should be pursued. Still, Harrington says she understands the concerns, such as the lack of a maternity center.
“In my conversations with Representative [Gailanne] Cariddi, she was interested in exploring having a birthing center in North County which might make sense and it would give people more options as far as where to go to have a baby,” said Harrington.
Hinds, who heads the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition, says the region has a rare opportunity to rebuild its healthcare system from the ground up. He says the main focus is the area’s acute health challenges.
“We’re seven or eight primary care physicians short of what a population of this size and need should have,” Hinds said. “Berkshire Health Systems and Community Health [Programs] have worked to fill that gap. Let’s look at what are the major reasons that people are visiting hospitals in the first place. That often relates to conditions related to smoking, pre-diabetes, hypertension and falls among our older population. We’ve been working with the health systems to put together a community health worker program that gets ahead of some of these big issues.”
Del Gallo says he is concerned there may not be enough healthcare options in the northern Berkshires.
With declining enrollments, Harrington says regionalizing administrative positions in K-12 schools is key to the future of the area’s educational system.
“But we do need to look at the number of schools that have,” Harrington said. “In Berkshire County, we need to take a Berkshire County-wide approach, to planning for how many schools that we really need given the number of students that we have. But, I don’t want to lose sight of the importance of kids receiving individualized attention.”
For his part, Hinds says in the short-term, state funding formulas and reimbursements for public schools need to be reworked. The former United Nations conflict mediator says he supports the ongoing work of the Berkshire County Education Task Force.
“It’s a quality of education question,” Hinds said. “Do we make sure that we protect some of the identity that we have around schools? If we’re going to increase our efficiencies, at what cost? In terms of how long a child would have to stay on a bus for example. That’s the starting point.”
Harrington, Hinds and Del Gallo would face off in a September primary.
Adam Hinds: “Why I am running for state Senate”
By Adam Hinds, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, 4/3/2016
PITTSFIELD - This district is my home, and running for state Senate is a privilege.
I grew up in the district, in the small town of Buckland. My father, a Vietnam veteran, operated three small businesses before going back to school at 51. He became a teacher in my high school and retired two years ago. My mother was a nursery school teacher and then a part-time librarian in the high school.
I didn't know it then, but at times my parents quietly struggled to make ends meet. Their daily sacrifices and hopes for my sister and me were our stability. To me, my parents represent the values and commitments we hold dear here in Western Massachusetts. We sacrifice so the next generation can reach for their dreams. We stand up to protect opportunity so our hard work pays off.
Thanks to my parents' sacrifice and belief in me, an unlikely path led me from Buckland to Washington D.C. and then to the Middle East as a negotiator for the United Nations. But this district was always home, and I returned because I want to make a difference where I grew up. With the experience I gained in politics, conflict resolution and coalition building, I am eager to represent the people and region that means so much to me; the region to which I am committed.
I am running to ensure every child in this district has the same sense of possibility that I was lucky enough to feel. I am running to ensure every working family can rest in the knowledge they can find a quality job and create a future that is secure.
Our region's potential is extraordinary: we have world-class cultural institutions, vibrant cities, welcoming small towns, fertile farms and unequaled access to nature. Our proud manufacturing legacy continues to bring cutting-edge technology to the world.
But right now, too many working families struggle to make a living wage, or to meet basic expenses. The median household income in Berkshire County is nearly $20,000 below state levels. The poverty rate is above the state average.
Tolerating barriers created by poverty, low wages, or excessive college costs is not in line with our commitment to opportunity or the prosperity of our region. We need to do something about it.
To fulfill our district's potential it is urgent we come together to create quality jobs in our region, strengthen our education by addressing flawed state funding formulas, accelerate efforts to lower energy costs while investing in renewable energy, and fight the scourge of heroin.
Expanding the economy means supporting small- to medium-sized business so they can grow. It means improving critical infrastructure. It is unacceptable that finalizing last-mile broadband has taken so long, or that conversations about developing an effective transportation system persist.
PATHWAY TO WORK
Real growth also requires training the workforce businesses need to expand here in Western Mass. That is one reason I am leading a community effort in northern Berkshire County called "Employ North Berkshire". It creates a pathway to work that removes obstacles to sustained employment.
To attract or keep businesses and employees we need strong schools. But funding mechanisms do not recognize challenges specific to rural districts or those with declining populations. As a result, our schools struggle to cover fixed costs and the curriculum suffers as a result. I know the difficulties of our schools firsthand, not only because I was a student in the district, but because it was often the conversation around our family dinner table.
To support our families I am also focused on strengthening the system of rural health and creating a strategy to confront the heroin epidemic. I started and continue involvement in a program in Pittsfield that ensures high-risk youth experience hope through educational support, the discipline of a regular job, and help from a solid mentor. Together we can do more.
In my work in our communities I have been blessed by strong support and good relationships. I will similarly work with business and clean-energy leaders to accelerate the growth of the commonwealth's clean-energy sector. Through collaboration and creativity — two qualities I believe are essential for good leadership — we can secure lower energy costs while meeting our commitment to develop renewable energy sources.
I spent nearly 10 years working for the United Nations, most of it based in the Middle East. I have negotiated with local, regional and world leaders in Iraq, Jerusalem, and Syria. But my intention was always to come home.
My experience gave me the courage to fight for our common interests and the skills to bring people together to get things done, in the district and in Boston. It showed me we are stronger when we work together. That will always be my starting point, and that is how I intend to work as state senator.
I will ensure Massachusetts remains a leader on progressive issues while focusing on local challenges. I will remain shoulder to shoulder with residents in neighborhoods throughout the district working for economic and social justice.
In Western Massachusetts we know what it means to stand side by side to tackle common challenges, protect fairness and opportunity for everyone, and protect our environment. Those are our ideals, and that is why I am running.
The author is a candidate for state Senate in the Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin & Hampden district. To reach Adam Hinds email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit adamhinds.org for more information or to volunteer.
Andrea Harrington: “Why I am running for state Senate”
By Andrea Harrington, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, 4/3/2016
RICHMOND - I am running for state Senate because our district needs a state senator who is invested in this district; who has experienced the triumphs and the challenges of raising a family in this community; and who is committed to serving this district through more than just a few elections.
I am a small business owner, a parent, and an attorney. These experiences have inspired me to advocate for solutions to our district's most pressing problems.
I grew up in the Berkshires. My family has been in the Berkshires for generations — as employees at Sprague Electric and GE, and as farmers, carpenters, and housekeepers. In my family, you simply worked hard.
Thanks to my parents' hard work, I have had opportunities that they did not enjoy. I graduated from Pittsfield public schools and became the first person in my family to graduate from college. Then, I became the first person in my family to go to law school.
When my husband and I moved back to Berkshire County 10 years ago, we grappled with the challenge of supporting our family in a region that was experiencing population loss, so we purchased a small business — the Public Market on Main Street in West Stockbridge. While we have amazing customers and dedicated employees, running a small business is a tremendous challenge.
We struggle with finding employees. The BRTA doesn't serve our little downtown in West Stockbridge, so our employees need a car just to get to work. Talking with folks across the district, staffing and transportation are universal challenges for our local businesses. For example, General Dynamics is hiring 190 workers. As a senator, I would mobilize to ensure that those positions are filled — we cannot afford to lose anymore jobs.
We also struggle with energy. This is the Public Market's biggest monthly expense. I see the promise of investing in renewable energy and green jobs both as an opportunity for economic development and a long-term solution to global warming. We need to make this a priority for our local businesses to stay competitive and so that we can attract new business.
I joined Berkshares, Inc., an organization developing innovative ways to support local businesses, focusing on keeping more dollars here. We teach young people about entrepreneurship, and we are partnering with local banks to create a micro-lending program. Identifying products that businesses in our area can manufacture locally led to the creation of the "Community Supported Industry" program.
My husband and I returned to the Berkshires to raise our children here. Their education is of utmost importance to us. We are concerned by the stress that our teachers, administrators and students are under and we see the decline in population affecting our schools.
As parents we want all of our students to receive high quality, individualized instruction and we worry about the effects of high-stakes testing. I have advocated for a district-wide approach to providing all of our children with the very best education from preschool through college, including high quality after-school, mentoring and vocational programs for our students.
COURTS OFFER INSIGHT
I have spent the last 10 years representing indigent criminal defendants and families across the county and state. As an attorney, I am one of the many people on the front lines of our region's opioid epidemic. Attorneys, police officers, therapists, nurses, and doctors are doing their work without fanfare. There are no awards for convincing a client to take a plea that includes essential treatment instead of going to trial.
My work in the courts has given me insight into the cycle of poverty and addiction afflicting our communities. For example, I noticed a theme among my legal clients — many lived in their grandmother's homes. In many families, that was the last generation with the financial security to buy a home. Substance abuse and crime is a symptom of a larger problem — it is the effect of a long-term economic decline.
My experience has taught me that with a fighting spirit and by working together, we can solve our most difficult problems. It is that spirit — that there is a solution to the effects of long-term economic decline — which I bring to my work every day.
As a senator, I pledge to:
* Bring a drug court to Berkshire County with the goal of shifting funds from incarcerating people to treating them;
* Invest in our transportation infrastructure, high speed Internet, and education so that we all have access to opportunity;
* Support the Berkshire Innovation Center in Pittsfield, to grow the life sciences sector and high tech manufacturing;
* Organize and advocate for state-wide and local approaches to support our local farmers, specialty-foods producers, artists, and entrepreneurs;
* Protect our environment by opposing the pipeline and pushing the state-wide effort to expand alternative energy sources, create more green jobs, and to protect human health from toxic waste in our communities; and,
* Bring more resources to our district through the budgeting process and by equalizing the taxes paid by people earning over a million dollars per year.
I am running because I am the passionate, practical, progressive leader that the four counties need to serve them in the state Senate, and I ask for your vote in the Democratic primary on Sept. 8.
Please contact me to join my campaign and to join me in building a district where all of our children can return to be part of a vibrant, prosperous community.
The author is a candidate for state Senate in the Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin & Hampden district. To reach Andrea Harrington email email@example.com or visit www.andreaforsenate.com for more information or to volunteer.
April 4, 2016
Re: My new blog page following the Berkshire State Senator race + Pittsfield political phonies
I took out nomination papers to run for Berkshire State Senator in 1998 and 2004, but I never actually ran (against my enemy #1 named Luciforo). I have a new blog page following the Berkshire State Senator race.
Some "Democrats" in Pittsfield politics only say they are "Democrats" because that is where the power is in Massachusetts politics.
If the power structure favored "Republicans", these same phonies would call themselves "Republicans" in Pittsfield politics.
My point is that they don't give "2 cents" about party politics, but rather, they only care about being in favor with the powerful.
My #1 example is one Peter J. Larkin, who is as Republican as Republican can be, but he has always called himself a Democrat. Lobbyist Larkin gets paid very well to do GE's bidding in Pittsfield politics, while thousands of local people continue to suffer from GE's cancer causing PCBs.
My #2 example is Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr., who is not as Republican as Peter Larkin, but he is a Republican fiscal conservative in favor of Boston area big banks and especially wealthy insurance companies, which he continues to represent as a corporate Attorney in Boston.
As much as I like Rinaldo Del Gallo, III, and I wish him well in his campaign for Berkshire State Senator, his legal writings come across as Republican, especially on social issues dealing with probate and family law. Rinaldo Del Gallo has an unfavorable view of women in family conflict when he supports shared parenting. Like Nuciforo, Rinaldo has a long family history rooted in Pittsfield politics.
- Jonathan Melle
“State Senate seat contest heating up: Downing’s 52-community district up for grabs includes eight Franklin County towns”
By Richie Davis, Recorder Staff, April 4, 2016
There’s nothing like a vacant seat to attract candidates for election.
And so the only regional campaign that is beginning to heat up is for the state Senate seat being vacated by Benjamin B. Downing of Pittsfield. The 52-community district includes Conway, Shelburne, Buckland, Charlemont, Hawley, Heath, Rowe and Monroe as well as cities and towns in Berkshire, Hampshire and Hampden counties.
There do not yet appear to be challenges for incumbent members of the Franklin County legislative delegation seeking re-election. The deadline for submitting nomination papers to local town clerks is May 3.
In addition to a three-way Democratic race for the Berkshire Senate seat, a Republican candidate is circulating nomination papers, pointing to the likelihood of a general election contest in November.
Pittsfield attorney Rinaldo Del Gallo III has joined Shelburne Falls native Adam Hinds of Pittsfield and Richmond attorney Andrea Harrington in gathering signatures for the Democratic nomination.
Christine Canning of Lanesborough, who owns two educational consulting businesses, Boston Manhattan Group Inc. and New England Global Network LLC, is circulating nomination papers as a Republican.
Hinds and Harrington have both announced their candidacies. Hinds heads the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition and was founding director of Pittsfield Community Connection, emphasizing youth and gang-violence prevention programs.
Harrington is a board member of Berkshares local business and entrepreneurship programs, and is also a Richmond Affordable Housing Committee member.
Del Gallo has not yet formally announced his candidacy. He has been in Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition as a spokesman for the fathers’ rights group and has worked on animal rights and environmental issues, including successfully getting adopted a plastic foam ban in Berkshire County and a Pittsfield farm-animal rights ordinance.
Canning, who has been an education specialist for the U.S. State Department and has worked for the Springfield, Holyoke and Pittsfield public schools, is a doctoral candidate in educational policy and research at the University of Massachusetts.
Democrat Jim White of Templeton, who had sought unsuccesfully to unseat former Rep. Denise Andrews in 2012, said he had seriously considered challenging first-term Rep. Susannah Whipps Lee, D-Athol, in the the Second Franklin House District, but has decided against a run.
The only other legislative district for which there is a contest is for the seat being vacated by Rep. Ellen Story, D-Amherst, with papers being circulated by former Massachusetts Broadband Institute Executive Director Eric T. Nakajima, Viraphanh Douangmany, Solomon Goldstein-Rose, Sarah la Cour, Bonnie MacCracken and Lawrence O’Brien, all of Amherst.
You can reach Richie Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-772-0261, ext. 269.
Christine Canning, of Lanesborough, promises to shake up the political establishment in Boston if elected to the seat now held by Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield, who is not seeking a sixth term. (Jim Therrien — The Berkshire Eagle)
"GOP candidate for Berkshire-area Senate seat promises shakeup in Boston"
By Jim Therrien, The Berkshire Eagle, April 5, 2016
LANESBOROUGH — A Lanesborough woman with a background in education and a history of advocating against wasteful school spending is seeking the Republican nomination for the Berkshire-region Senate district.
Christine Canning, of Noppet Road, also promises to shake up the political establishment in Boston if elected to the seat now held by Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield, who is not seeking a sixth term.
"I am running for a multitude of reasons," Canning said in an interview. "No. 1, I see a need for the counties I am representing to improve their educational systems. Right now, I see a lot of corrupt, incestuous and job-embedded practices, where our schools are at Level 3 [in state rankings], some possibly going to Level 4. I see what taxpayers are paying, and I don't feel they are getting value for their money."
Canning said she has been a whistleblower against fraud or regulatory violations concerning funding earmarked for students such as those in English Language Learner or special education programs. She took on the Pittsfield Public Schools while an English teacher at Taconic High School and later reported alleged problems in the Holyoke schools, where she also worked, and in North Adams schools concerning use of ELL funding.
Speaking of the situation in Holyoke, Canning said, "My goal is and always will be as an advocate for children, and when I saw that these people were taking money and promoting their own careers at the expense of these kids who could afford it the least, I couldn't take it. I just started reporting it; just started documenting and reporting. ... And now the state has corrected it."
In Pittsfield, Canning, was a former chairwoman of the Taconic High School English Department when she filed suit against the city and some school officials in 2006, claiming she was improperly fired for repeatedly bringing to the attention of administrators concerns about discrimination, drug use and violence among students.
In 2009, her suit against the city and school officials was settled on the second day of a civil trial in Superior Court.
Of the settlement, Canning said: "I can't discuss a lot of that," but she said her complaints focused on the legal protections for "the health, welfare and safety" of children. She added, "And a lot of people, if you notice, stepped down or were removed."
"In one sense, all of these cases brought me up to realizing how taxpayer money is wasted," she said. "It is not utilized. The levels and practices of corruption, using loopholes, and our inability to check the system. And also because of the nepotism and the good old boy circle that I have found. ... I really felt I am not afraid to take them on, I am not afraid of exposure, and I believe in transparency. And I also think you can do more with less.
"And because I have lived with these loopholes, I know exactly where to look," Canning said. "When you have experienced it yourself, you know exactly how people beat the system."
"I also am very pro-business," she said. "But in order to bring business back into Berkshire County, you need someone who is not just going to say they will listen, but someone who is going to do. And I have a proven track record of doing things."
Canning said that when she realized some state education-related contracts were going to vendors in other states, she decided, "This is crazy."
She said she went to Sen. Downing and suggested what later became the Massachusetts Uniform Procurement Act, which stipulates, "If a Massachusetts company can do the same work as an out of state company, then we have to give them preference."
"I showed him [Downing] what we lost in tax dollars because of this," she said.
Noting the level of poverty and drug use in the region, Canning said, "Because of that, I think if we don't save ourselves now, and go with someone like me who is proven to change things, proven to stand up to people that no one else wants to deal with, then I think Berkshire County really can't hope for more."
The reality today, she said, is that the region is ignored in Boston and "being taken advantage of" by corporate entities like Kinder Morgan, which plans a natural gas pipeline across the county.
"I have worked with people who think the state ends at Worcester," Canning said. "It does not."
She likened the state's allocation of resources to a Monopoly board game in which "you give 90 percent of the properties to from Worcester to Boston and leave us with the other 10 percent, and you see Worcester to Boston getting richer and richer and the rest of the state getting poorer and poorer."
She said of a Kinder Morgan compensation proposal in dealing with property owners along its proposed pipeline route, "They are treating us like the Beverly Hillbillies."
Canning comes by her interest in education naturally. Both her mother and father, John and Kathleen Canning, now retired, had long careers in the field in Berkshire County. Her mother taught languages at St. Joseph High School for many years, and her father is a former principal at Monument Mountain Regional High School in Great Barrington.
Today, she is CEO of New England Global Network, LLC, an education consulting firm, and develops curriculum and educational training manuals, books and other materials, often under state or federal contracts, including for the State Department involving foreign nations.
Canning is a widow. She married Douglas Wilson, a native of Scotland, who died of leukemia in 2003. She said they met while she was working as an English instructor in United Arab Emirates University in 1999, and they were married the following year.
The couple's two children now attend Mount Greylock Regional High School, Canning said.
Canning is completing a doctorate at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in Educational Policy and Research. She is licensed as a superintendent and holds four professional teaching licenses.
"So I can really work the gamut of where I want in this field," she said.
The 1987 St. Joseph High School graduate said she was Catholic Youth Organization volunteer of the year and won a Rotary Service Above Self Award and was otherwise active in the community.
She holds an English degree from UMass and a master's from West Virginia University in foreign language and linguistics. She also studied at the University of Cambridge, England, Oxford University, England, and Salzburg College in Austria.
Canning said she has been meeting with Berkshire GOP officials as she prepares her campaign and will have a formal announcement in the near future.
Others having announced for the Senate seat, which represents 52 communities in four western counties, are Adam Hinds and Rinaldo Del Gallo of Pittsfield and Andrea Harrington of Richmond. All are seeking the Democratic nomination for the office.
Contact Jim Therrien at 413-496-6347. email@example.com @BE_therrien on Twitter.
State Senate candidate Christine M. Canning meets with supporters following her campaign kick-off event Wednesday at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 448 on Wendell Avenue in Pittsfield. (Gillian Jones — The Berkshire Eagle | photos.berkshireeagle.com)
“Lanesborough Republican Canning launches campaign for Massachusetts Senate”
By Phil Demers, The Berkshire Eagle, May 4, 2016
PITTSFIELD - Christine M. Canning called herself a "pit bull but with lipstick" and a "new tributary" who would freshen the waters of Berkshire politics.
Canning, a Lanesborough Republican, formally announced her campaign for the Berkshire-region Senate district at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 448 on Wednesday.
To an audience of dozens, the candidate touted her tirelessness in fighting for equality of opportunity and sensible policy, her extensive education and knowledge of foreign languages; experience living in the Middle East and her whistleblowing past.
"I have a vision; I want to bring jobs," Canning said. "I've worked around the world, in multiple countries. I've seen growth. For the last 24 years, we've been run by Democrats, and now, we are the 21st poorest county in the United States. That is not acceptable in my mind."
She added, "I will bend over backwards. I don't quit."
USA Today reported Berkshire County as the 21st poorest county in the United States in January 2015, based on median household income and the poverty and unemployment rates.
Canning, 46, also pitched herself as a crossover candidate who Democrats could comfortably vote for — a "doer," not a party follower, more concerned with getting things done than political grandstanding.
"I will guarantee you this: I have a lot of integrity, and if I say I'm going to go in and do it, I will do it," she said. "I'm never tired. People say to me, 'You're like the Energizer Bunny; you keep going and going.' The reason is, I believe in people, and I believe I'm here to serve people.
Canning added, "We have Democrats here tonight."
Naming legislative committees she would seek to work on, Canning identified her areas of expertise: Ways and Means, the Joint Committee on Education, the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security, and the Committee on Ethics and Rules.
Brash and gregarious in style, Canning seemed to fit the part she seeks to play. She spoke out against a Democratic bill up for consideration by the Joint Committee on Transportation, seeking to grant illegal immigrants Massachusetts driver's licenses, potentially opening these individuals up to other state services.
Canning said it should not be passed when many veterans remain homeless and in need of services.
State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, and state Sen. Patricia Jehlen, D-Somerville, filed the bill.
Peter C. Giftos, former executive director of Berkshire County Republican Association, who attended the announcement, called Canning "almost too good to be true."
"She has that rare gumption that I like to see in the political process," Giftos said. "What I like about her, is if she sees something wrong, she'll go after it like a tiger."
Canning, a former Taconic High School teacher, went after Pittsfield Public Schools on racial discrimination issues and later did the same in Holyoke schools.
"If you shut up [about issues], the problems continue," Canning said. "You cannot deny people opportunity."
Also in her career, Canning taught in colleges in the United Arab Emirates and Dubai for 14 years.
What she termed runaway corruption and nepotism in Massachusetts — from small towns to state government — would also be a focus, Canning said.
Canning is CEO of New England Global Network, LLC, an education consulting firm, and develops curriculum and educational training manuals, books and other materials, often under state or federal contracts, including for the State Department involving foreign nations.
Canning's late husband Douglas Wilson died of leukemia in 2003. Canning is raising the couple's two children.
Giftos also identified Canning as "one of those rare Republicans" who can win in liberal Massachusetts, because of her personality, emphasis on accomplishing things and focus on corruption.
"We've had one-party government in Massachusetts for so damn long, that's where the corruption comes from," Giftos said. "If you look at the history of the country, you find that every state that had one-party government has gone bananas, has gone bad."
Canning holds an English degree from UMass and a master's from West Virginia University in foreign language and linguistics. She also studied at the University of Cambridge, England, Oxford University, England, and Salzburg College in Austria.
Those announcing their candidacy for the Democratic nomination for the Senate seat — potentially to become Canning's opponent in November — include Adam Hinds and Rinaldo Del Gallo of Pittsfield and Andrea Harrington of Richmond.
The three could face of in a primary election in September.
Contact Phil Demers at 413-496-6214. firstname.lastname@example.org @BE_PhilD on Twitter.
21. Berkshire County, Massachusetts
* County median household income, 2009-2013: $48,450
* State median household income, 2009-2013: $66,866
* Poverty rate, 2009-2013: 12.8%
* Unemployment, 2013: 7.1%
Massachusetts residents are some of the nation's wealthiest. Between 2009 and 2013, the state's poorest county had a median annual household income of $48,450, not especially poor compared to other counties reviewed. As in the rest of the state, Berkshire County residents benefited from exceptionally high health insurance coverage. Just 3.3% of residents did not have health insurance over the five years through 2013, one of the best rates nationwide.
Source: "The poorest county in each state" By Thomas C. Frohlich, 24/7 Wall St. via USA Today (online) January 10, 2015.
"Attorney Andrea Harrington of Richmond to announce candidacy for state Senate seat"
Daily Hampshire Gazette, March 8, 2016
RICHMOND — Attorney Andrea Harrington of Richmond is scheduled to announce her candidacy Tuesday for the state Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield.
Harrington, a Democrat, is scheduled to announce her candidacy at 10 a.m. at the Public Market in West Stockbridge. The Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin and Hampden district is made up of 52 towns, including Chesterfield, Cummington, Goshen, Huntington, Middlefield, Plainfield, Westhampton, Williamsburg and Worthington.
“I am running for State Senate because our district needs a leader who understands the challenges facing our communities and will build on the opportunities we have to create jobs and protect our children,” Harrington said in a statement Monday. “I am running to expand the bright spots in our regional economy — in court I have seen too many lives impacted by financial hardship.”
A board member of Berkshares, a local currency for Berkshire County, Harrington’s work with the organization focuses on supporting local business, growing entrepreneurship and the new community-supported industry program.
A mother of two, Harrington also volunteers with programs to provide expanded educational opportunities for young people in Berkshire County — the Railroad Street Youth Project, the Crocus Fund and the Berkshire Academies’ Mentors.
Shelburne Falls native Adam Hinds of Pittsfield also is a candidate for the seat being vacated by Downing after 10 years.
Adam Hinds of Pittsfield and Andrea Harrington of Richmond are Democratic candidates for the state Senate seat being vacated by Benjamin Downing. (Campaign Photos)
"Two Democrats vying for Benjamin Downing's Senate seat field questions at Goshen forum"
By Mary Serreze | Special to The (Springfield) Republican, May 12, 2016
GOSHEN — Two Democratic candidates for a seat on the Massachusetts Senate squared off Wednesday night at the Congregational Church in Goshen, fielding questions about education funding, rural broadband, marijuana, and more.
Andrea Harrington and Adam Hinds are vying for the Senate seat being vacated by Benjamin B. Downing of Pittsfield. The Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden district comprises 52 communities in the three western counties.
A declared Republican candidate, Christine Canning of Lanesborough, was not part of the event, hosted by Hilltown Democratic Coalition.
Harrington, 41, is an attorney who lives in Richmond with her husband and children. "I want my kids to be be able to return and live in an area that's prosperous," she said. "I'm a practical, passionate, and progressive leader." The Taconic High School graduate practiced law in Florida before she and her husband, who now owns the Public Market in West Stockbridge, returned to the Berkshires "to make an investment in the community." She emphasized her strong work ethic, and said representing a range of clients in her law practice has given her a valuable perspective.
Hinds, 39, of Pittsfield, grew up in Buckland and attended Mohawk Trail Regional High School, where his father was a teacher and his mother a librarian. He spoke of his decade in the Middle East working for the United Nations as a negotiator in Syria, Jerusalem, and Iraq. "We need a negotiator on Beacon Hill," said Hinds, a graduate of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. Hinds, who founded a program to help at-risk youth in Pittsfield, is now executive director of the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition in North Adams.
Both emphasized the importance of public education, and said state funding formulas put rural, regional school districts at a disadvantage. Hinds said the Hampshire Regional School District loses $200,000 a year because of inadequate transportation reimbursements from the state. "We desperately need Chapter 70 reform," he said, referring to the state school aid program. "I'm passionate about this, coming from an education family."
Harrington said small towns are at a crisis point, struggling to fund education with constrained budgets. "Town and school health care costs are a major factor," she said. "I would support a single-payer system." She said Chapter 70 aid should be "cost-based instead of seat-based" because sprawling rural school districts have high fixed costs per student, including regional transportation.
On the topic of rural broadband, Hinds said stalled deployment by the state is "unacceptable." The state "should focus on what the towns want, and the two sides should not criticize each other's business plan in the press." Hinds was referring to a public conflict that erupted late last year between the Massachusetts Broadband Institute and WiredWest, a cooperative that hopes to own and operate a taxpayer-funded regional fiber network in the hilltowns.
Harrington said broadband is essential in today's world, and that by failing to get behind WiredWest, Governor Charlie Baker "has shown that he does not support coops." She said while some towns have decided to reject WiredWest membership and "go their own way" in building town-owned networks with state support, "the cooperative model makes sense" and "that's what the towns approved."
Neither Harrington nor Hinds expressed support for legalizing marijuana, with each saying drug use at an early age can have long-term adverse affects. Harrington said minorities are over-represented in marijuana-related arrests, and noted that possession is now decriminalized in Massachusetts, but said that a proposed ballot question to tax and legalize marijuana "is a different issue." She said there is no clear way for police to determine if a driver is high on marijuana, and that parents smoking at home could send the wrong message to youth. "We need further study. At this point, I'm opposed," she said.
Hinds said that in his work as a mentor to at-risk youth, he has seen the adverse impact of marijuana. "I have no problem with adults smoking in the privacy of their homes," he said. "But we need to prevent substance use at a young age."
Both expressed an interest in energy issues, with Harrington saying high costs are an impediment to economic development. She said Onyx Specialty Papers in Lee spends $2 million per year on energy, and that "the costs are prohibitive" to new manufacturers looking at the region.
Both said they would support the growth of green jobs and the creative economy.
Downing announced in January that he would not seek a sixth term.
The event was originally slated to be held at Goshen Town Hall, but was moved across the road to the church because a lead paint removal project began May 9 at the municipal building.
Also participating were Patrick J. Cahillane and Kavern Lewis, candidates for Hampshire County Sheriff; and Mary E. Hurley and Jeffrey S. Morneau; Democratic candidates for 8th District Governor's Council.
"With no statewide races this year, these down-ballot contests for open seats will be critical for many voters of the Hilltowns and western Massachusetts," said Elizabeth Bell-Perkins, chair of the Goshen Democratic Town Committee.
"Senate candidate left out of debate in race to replace Downing"
(Greenfield) Recorder Staff, May 17, 2016
PITTSFIELD — One of three Democratic hopefuls for a state Senate vacancy says he is angry at being left out of a candidate’s forum last week.
Rinaldo Del Gallo III of Pittsfield said he wasn’t even aware of the May 11 debate in Goshen, sponsored by the Hilltown Democratic Coalition, until being called by a newspaper reporter. The other two candidates — Adam Hinds of Pittsfield and Andrea Harrington of Richmond — took part in the forum without Del Gallo, who has not yet officially announced his candidacy.
The district, now represented by Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, who is not seeing re-election, includes Ashfield, Conway, Shelburne, Buckland, Charlemont, Hawley, Heath, Rowe and Monroe as well as communities in Berkshire, Hampshire and Hampden counties.
Hilltown Democratic Coalition Matthew Barron said only announced candidates were invited to the forum at Goshen Congregational Church.
“I think it is unconscionable to host a Democratic debate fully knowing that I would almost certainly be a candidate,” said Del Gallo in a written statement. “Anyone with even a modicum of knowledge of knows that the ‘formal announcement’ is a media event with much fanfare that no candidate would do without.”
Letter: "Comprehensive response to Pittsfield shootings"
The Berkshire Eagle, 5/26/2016
To the editor:
The escalation in shootings in Pittsfield is deeply disturbing. There have been 30 shooting incidents in the first five months of 2016; the same number for all of last year. I worked to address youth violence in Pittsfield, and getting ahead of this will take comprehensive action from us all.
First, law enforcement must have the resources necessary to get ahead of this. Mayor Tyer's plan for more officers is critical, as is intelligence-sharing and collaboration among regional law enforcement actors.
At the same time, robust community work must be a parallel track. During my time starting the city's Pittsfield Community Connection (PCC) program, we focused on creating effective alternatives to violence. That means mentors, jobs and counseling. During previous shooting incidents, PCC outreach workers, sometimes former gang members themselves, stepped in to try to reduce chances of retaliation. Action on the ground by those with access remains vital.
One of my last actions with PCC was to work with the Pittsfield Police Department to secure the Safe and Successful Youth Initiative grant. It is a grant that will bring almost $5 million in state funds to Pittsfield over 10 years. The program is just starting and works with police and the sheriff's office to target young men aged 17-24 with a history of violence. Participants get mental and behavioral health counseling, a job subsidized by the grant, education assistance and regular contact by PCC outreach workers.
There appears to be a nasty mix of growing drug markets, gangs and available weapons. As state senator, I would work to ensure that communities in the district have the resources they need to keep our streets safe and to preserve the healthy development of all residents.
Adam Hinds, Pittsfield
The writer is a Democratic candidate for state Senate.
Letter: “Hinds understands, will work for region”
The Berkshire Eagle, 5/27/2016
To the editor:
This September, voters in the Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin and Hampden districts can make an outstanding choice in supporting Adam Hinds for state Senate.
Recently, Hinds released his plan to create and support a strong regional economy, aimed at helping and encouraging small and medium-sized businesses in our area.
Hinds has a deep understanding of the challenges faced by employers in Western Massachusetts, and he plans to focus on issues essential to attracting and retaining good jobs and great companies, such as last mile broadband and supporting our area's creative sector.
Importantly, he also recognizes that valuable jobs and a healthy economy relate to raising up our schools while keeping down energy costs, and promoting affordable housing while protecting our natural assets. This appreciative and encompassing view of what makes our region great is part of what makes Hinds an incredible choice for the state Senate.
Adam lives right here in Pittsfield and calls the Berkshires his home. He feels passionately about this area and will work hard to make sure our city has a representative in Boston and a strong voice.
I encourage you to visit Adams' website at adamhinds.org to read through his story and proposals. In electing him, we'll not only be getting a qualified senator, but a compelling, experienced, and relatable advocate who is well-prepared to secure Beacon Hill support for our beloved area and its economy. He has my complete support.
Vote for Adam Hinds in the Democratic state primary on Sept. 8.
Laurie Tierney, Pittsfield
"Four candidates for Sen. Ben Downing's Senate seat qualify for ballot"
By Mary Serreze | Special to The Republican | May 27, 2016
Three Democrats and one Republican candidate for state Senate in the sprawling Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin and Hampden District have qualified for the ballot, the office of Secretary of State William Galvin confirmed on Friday.
The deadline to submit 300 certified signatures to the secretary of state's elections division is Tuesday, May 31. Candidates must also submit financial interest statements to the State Ethics Commission, and have been enrolled in their respective parties for at least 90 days.
The Senate seat has been held for 10 years by Sen. Benjamin Downing, D-Pittsfield, who announced in January he would not run for re-election.
The Democrats who have qualified for the ballot are attorney Andrea Harrington of Richmond, nonprofit director Adam Hinds of Pittsfield and lawyer Rinaldo Del Gallo III, also of Pittsfield. Christine Canning of Lanesborough, a Republican who runs an education consulting firm, has also qualified.
A fourth Democrat, Thomas Whickam of Lee, has pulled nomination papers but has not yet returned 300 certified signatures, according to Galvin's office.
Harrington and Hinds squared off at a Goshen debate earlier this month, and Del Gallo, a fathers' rights activist who describes himself as a "Bernie Sanders progressive," cried foul because he had not been invited. Debate organizers said Del Gallo was excluded because he had not yet declared his candidacy. Del Gallo later said he plans to formally announce his campaign in Pittsfield on May 31.
Downing was just 24 when entered his first Senate race in 2006, after Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., D-Pittsfield, said he would not run again. Downing narrowly defeated former state Rep. Christopher Hodgkins of Lee in the primary, then went on to win the general election in a landslide. Since then, Downing has not faced a competitive election.
Downing chairs the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy and the Senate Committee on Redistricting; vice chairs committees on tourism and on audit and oversight; and is a member of the influential Ways and Means Committee.
The district, geographically the largest in the Massachusetts Senate, comprises 52 communities in the four western counties.
Mary Serreze can be reached at email@example.com.
"Rinaldo Del Gallo running for Senate as a 'Sanders progressive'"
Running as a 'Bernie Sanders progressive'
By Jim Therrien, The Berkshire Eagle, May 30, 2016
PITTSFIELD — Democratic primary candidate Rinaldo Del Gallo III wants to make it clear from the start what kind of campaign he will run for the state Senate seat representing Berkshire County.
"My general theme is, I am running as a Bernie Sanders progressive," he said during an interview. "It was one of the first decisions I made. I wanted people to be able to know in an instant what type of platform that I had."
Del Gallo added, "There has been a lot of discussion about what is going to happen with that [Sanders] revolution. It has to be a political revolution, so to speak, that happens throughout our government at the federal and state levels."
The movement of wealth toward the higher-income levels in recent decades is a trend that must be reversed, Del Gallo said, to stabilize the middle class and the poor and revive a sluggish U.S. economy.
"Wages have gone flat. Almost all wealth has gone to the top," he said, citing statistics on income and wealth disparities noted by Sanders in his presidential campaign.
"It is an absolute rigging of our system that is causing the decay of our country, that is causing the collapse of the middle class, which is causing the ranks of the poor to swell and the ranks of the middle class to just disappear," Del Gallo said, adding that crime, drug addiction, infrastructure neglect and other problems are related to a lack of economic opportunity for many.
Del Gallo, 53, of Lenox, is an attorney who grew up in Pittsfield where his uncle, Remo Del Gallo, served as mayor during the 1960s. He is seeking the Democratic nomination for the seat now held by Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield, who is stepping down at the close of his fifth term in January.
In the Democratic primary Sept. 8, Del Gallo will face Adam Hinds of Pittsfield and Andrea Harrington of Richmond. Christine Canning of Lanesborough is the lone Republican candidate in her party's primary.
At the state level, Del Gallo said, one focus for him would be promoting a taxing system tilted more toward the middle class. He also would advocate for a $15 minimum wage, solar and wind power generation and other environmental issues; support family leave and universal pre-kindergarten and would strive to be "the most pro-labor person" in the Legislature.
Right now, he said, 33 states have a graduated state income tax, which, like the federal government, has different rates depending on the level of income. "I would like Massachusetts to be the 34th state," he said.
The state now has only one tax rate, "basically a flat tax," he said. The candidate said he believes there are "different types of income that would be taxed differently with different types of approaches," saying that he would research tax issues more before making specific proposals.
Del Gallo contends that, at the federal level, the 1950s and 1960s saw high nominal rates and, "I would submit that those were some of the most economically prosperous times in our county."
Del Gallo said it seems "clear to me that we are going to have to amend our tax policies so that those who are super-affluent, those with the ability to pay, pay. We need a very fundamental change."
Without that level of taxation, he said, "We haven't been able to finance infrastructure, or public education ... But the good thing, at least in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is that this is a taxing opportunity; it is there for us."
He also argues that "government clearly can create wealth," which he said is a basic difference between Democrats and Republicans, who believe the private sector should create wealth and drive the economy. "Then they hop in their car and drive home on a [public] road and pretend that isn't wealth," he said.
Expanding tax revenue sources could help repair crumbling infrastructure, fund education and promote green industries, he said, adding, "But we have been talking about this for decades."
The Obama administration's economic stimulus package was a good idea but "far too small," he said.
"We need money," he said. "We need some return on this enormous amount of wealth and capital that exists in this country ... A lot of people would think this is pie in the sky stuff, but there is a lot of wealth out there that could be reasonably taxed, and in the past when we have done so we have had fantastic economies,"
Raising the minimum wage also would spur the economy, he said, as it would give people more money to spend. Opponents of hiking the wage, "try to pretend progressives are wrong on minimum wage impact, but Harry Truman doubled the minimum wage in 1950s, and we had a booming economy. They want to pretend that the progressives don't know what they are talking about; well, they are just wrong. These are eminently doable things."
Like Sanders, Del Gallo would push for tuition-free college for state residents, arguing that European nations have shown this too is realistic.
Such tax changes would be "saving them [the wealthy] from themselves," he said. "Basically, they are drying up all the wealth. We cannot continue to decimate the middle class ... It's like overfishing a [prime fishing hole]."
Del Gallo said he also is proud of his record on the environment, having sponsored a polystyrene foam container ban ordinance that passed in Pittsfield and proposed a plastic bag ban, which is pending.
He received a Hero of the Ocean award from the state Senate for his efforts on the polystyrene ban.
On economic development, he said the area should continue to push to create industrial employment, along with a creative economy, which he said is not large enough to carry the regional economy alone.
He also called for more optimism that something approaching the days of large-scale GE employment are not gone forever. "We have been far to negative, defeatist," he said, adding that other regions, such as around Albany, N.Y., offer a blueprint for success.
Contact Jim Therrien at 413-496-6247. firstname.lastname@example.org @BE_therrien on Twitter.
Rinaldo Del Gallo announces his candidacy for state Senate on Tuesday at Shire City Sanctuary in Pittsfield. (Jim Therrien — The Berkshire Eagle)
"Senate candidate Del Gallo makes formal announcement"
By Jim Therrien, The Berkshire Eagle, 5/31/2016
PITTSFIELD - State Senate candidate Rinaldo Del Gallo held a formal campaign announcement Tuesday at Shire City Sanctuary, promising a progressive agenda in the Legislature and contending his name recognition could give him an edge in the Democratic primary.
Del Gallo faces Adam Hinds of Pittsfield and Andrea Harrington of Richmond for the Democratic nomination. A lone Republican, Christine Canning of Lanesborough, is seeking her party's nomination.
Several supporters attending the evening event praised Del Gallo, 53, a city native and attorney, for his work on behalf of progressive causes — often performing hours of pro bono legal work.
Brad Verter said, "I was inspired by Rinaldo Del Gallo," when Verter began pushing for bans on polystyrene foam containers and shopping bags in Williamstown, both of which were enacted.
Del Gallo's proposal for similar bans in Pittsfield spurred his own, Verter said, adding that he previously hadn't realized such changes could be enacted, before he saw a Del Gallo column on his citywide effort in The Berkshire Eagle.
"He held my hand through the entire process [in Williamstown]," Verter said.
Since then, he said, he has launched MassGreen.org, which assists communities around the state in similar environmental protection efforts.
Jim Martin, who said he has known Del Gallo for many years, said the attorney worked pro bono for numerous hours on a probate court issue for him.
"He has always been more concerned about helping people than making money," Martin said.
Speaking later, Del Gallo estimated he has done "a fantastic amount of pro bono work" over the years in numerous causes.
Martin also praised the candidate for "being the first against the [Kinder Morgan natural gas] pipeline in this county."
Grier Horner, a retired Berkshire Eagle editor and artist, said Del Gallo helped rescue his neighborhood when a developer planned a 375-unit timeshare development nearby. Not seeking any compensation, Del Gallo "knocked the [legal] footing out from under the developers," Horner said.
He also praised the candidate, who has promised to run "as a Bernie Sanders progressive," for his positions on taxation, the environment and many other issues. Through changes in the state and federal tax structures, Del Gallo wants to "ease the stranglehold" wealthy interests have obtained, Horner said.
"We need more candidates like Bernie Sanders and Rinaldo Del Gallo," he said.
Del Gallo stressed his progressive platform, which includes creating a tax structure favorable to the middle class and poor and asks more in taxes from the wealthy. Quoting Sanders during his presidential campaign, he cited statistics showing that the nation had a robust economy in past decades when the tax rates on high earners and wealth were much higher.
"Today, we don't have the money to fund government anymore," he said, later adding, "We can't keep putting it on the [government] credit card."
He also called for a $15 minimum wage and other changes to boost lower-income workers and the poor, contending that would enhance the entire economy as it did during the post-World War II decades.
He also supports tuition-free public higher education and affordable health care for all.
And the candidate said he has shown over the years a willingness to be among the first to take sometimes unpopular views and persevere until others adopt them as well.
He said that was true of his early stand in favor of decriminalizing marijuana and fighting for the rights of fathers with the Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition, and on transgender rights to use public restrooms.
"I think I have a chance in this race," Del Gallo said.
He said he has a long track record of activism and other work in the Berkshires that could give him a name-recognition advantage over his Democratic rivals in the Sept. 8 primary.
Del Gallo said he favors an approach to economic development similar to the stimulus efforts in New York in creating a Nanotechnology Institute in the Albany area.
Del Gallo also talked about growing up in Pittsfield where his uncle, Remo Del Gallo, served as mayor during the 1960s. The elder Del Gallo was among about 30 supporters in attendance Tuesday.
Contact Jim Therrien at 413-496-6247. email@example.com @BE_therrien on Twitter.
Rinaldo Del Gallo made his announcement in front of 35 or so supporters at Shire City Sanctuary.
"Del Gallo Launches Bid For State Senate Seat"
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff, June 1, 2016
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Jim Martin had his daughter taken away from him and he didn't have the money to fight for custody in the courts.
Rinaldo Del Gallo offered his legal services pro-bono and put more than 100 hours into the legal representation.
"He is more concerned about justice than he is money," Martin said on Tuesday when Del Gallo formally announced his campaign for the state Senate seat being vacated by Benjamin Downing.
Mark Delmyer has a similar story about Del Gallo helping to fight off developers looking to divvy up his family farm into subdivisions.
"The farm now is still in the midst of being determined but the good news is we have somebody to help," Delmyer said.
Grier Horner told a similar story of when Del Gallo defeated a timeshare project eyed for the Ponterill property. And Brad Verter credited Del Gallo with being his inspiration for the ban of polystyrene and plastic bags in Williamstown, after which Del Gallo lead the successful ban in Pittsfield.
"He held my hand through the entire process," Verter said, adding that he motivated him to ultimately start the statewide Mass Green Network.
There are dozens of stories of Del Gallo's work and his message in the campaign is "you know me."
The attorney has been active in a number of different political and social issues in the area since he returned here in 2000. He started the Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition. He ushered through the ban on polystyrene food containers in Pittsfield, and inspired and worked with other communities to do the same.
"I stuck with it, it took three years and in 2015, the city of Pittsfield banned Styrofoam," Del Gallo said.
He cited a number of small legislative items he got through the Pittsfield City Council and his ongoing petition to ban single-use plastic bags. He's previously filed a petition to support transgender rights.
"So far, I seem to be the only talking about this. I believe transgendered people should have equal rights," Del Gallo said. "If elected to the Senate, I will fight for the rights of transgendered people."
He represented First Amendment cases, including a 2012 suit against local blogger Dan Valenti. And he said he's always had the courage to speak out against such things as supporting the decriminalization of marijuana in 2008 when most officials were opposing it and the Bernard Baran case. Through countless columns and opinion pieces submitted to newspapers, Del Gallo says he has the name recognition and the platform to win the Senate seat.
Dubbing himself a "Bernie Sanders progressive," his primary focus is on income inequality.
"We want to keep the revolution going on the local level," he said.
Crediting Sanders' speeches, he said the top 1/10 of the top 1 percent of the wealthiest Americans have as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent and that the richest 20 people have more wealth than the bottom 150 million people.
That's where the money is to support a number of projects that were never completed, he said, such as high-speed rail to Boston and New York from the Berkshires or a more robust public transportation system or providing tuition-free college.
"I want to introduce a graduated income tax system," Del Gallo said, adding he'd go after making the amendment in the state Constitution to join the 33 other states with such a system.
He also supports raising the minimum wage, adding a millionaire tax, and a wealth tax. That will pave the way for universal preschool and single-payer health insurance.
"This isn't pie in the sky stuff, it's being done all over the world," Del Gallo said.
He also supports GMO labeling, bioremediation of the Housatonic River, opposing the Kinder Morgan pipeline in Otis and Sandisfield, and using the William Stanley Business Park as a place to grow nanotechnology industry as has been done in Albany, N.Y.
"This is just talk unless we can get some of this wealth," Del Gallo said.
He went on to oppose the war on drugs and incarceration — instead calling for more rehabilitation.
Del Gallo took a few shots at his opponents in the Democratic primary, saying Adam Hinds has only been in the Berkshires for a small period of time compared to him and that Andrea Harrington has been "quiet" while he's been active in the community. Del Gallo hopes to defeat those two in the September primary to win the Democratic nomination. From there he'd be up against Christine Canning, of Lanesborough, who is the Republican candidate.
Del Gallo is a Pittsfield native and his uncle Remo Del Gallo was Pittsfield's mayor in the 1960s. His father was a cost engineer at General Electric. Rinaldo Del Gallo got his law degree from George Washington University.
Grier Horner voiced support for Del Gallo not just because of his local work but also because of the national and state issues in which the two share the same views.
"Third Democrat [Rinaldo Del Gallo III] announces formally for Downing’s Senate seat"
By Richie Davis, Recorder Staff, June 2, 2016
A third Democratic hopeful seeking a Berkshire County-based state Senate seat has formally announced his candidacy.
Rinaldo Del Gallo III, who is an attorney, is seeking the Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Benjamin Downing of Pittsfield, and faces a three-way Democratic primary on Sept. 8 in the district that includes Ashfield, Conway, Shelburne, Buckland, Charlemont, Hawley, Heath, Rowe and Monroe, along with communities in Berkshire, Hampshire and Hampden counties.
Del Gallo, who describes himself as “a Bernie Sanders progressive,” is the last of the three Democrats to formally announce, and was critical of being left out of a May 11 debate the Hilltown Democratic Coalition held in Goshen, although organizers said it was only for announced candidates. Democrats Adam Hinds of Pittsfield and Andrea Harrington of Richmond took part.
A graduate of George Washington University Law School and Northeastern University, Del Gallo has been spokesman for the Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition since 2002 and has worked on animal rights and environmental issues, including successfully getting adopted a plastic foam ban in Berkshire County and a Pittsfield farm-animal rights ordinance. Del Gallo says we would support a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags and plastic foam products like Styrofoam.
He has filed a petition in Pittsfield to guarantee the rights of transgendered people and, as a lawyer, wrote a legal opinion that helped prevent time-share housing from being allowed in residential zones in the city.
Del Gallo supports “tuition-free and debt-free” state higher education as well as universal pre-kindergarten, to be sponsored by a millionaire’s tax now being considered as a state constitutional amendment. He also supports decriminalization of marijuana, a $15 minimum wage and labeling of genetically modified organisms.
He has a been an op-ed contributor to the Berkshire Eagle on a wide variety of subject and has written a My Turn column on Styrofoam for The Recorder.
You can reach Richie Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-772-0261, ext. 269.
Christine Canning: “Why I am running for state Senate”
By Christine Canning, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, 6/12/2016
LANESBOROUGH - I was born and raised in Berkshire County but have either lived or worked in Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties over the years. I understand our area, its people, and our needs. I am highly educated, personable, demonstrate common sense, and address adversity without blinking an eye.
I am running because I can no longer watch us spiral deeper down with the nepotism, corruption, retribution and retaliation of "good old boys" networks that centralize the power at our people's expense. I am a strong person who is known for her follow through, commitment to causes, and determination to do what is correct, even at the expense of myself. If you wish to discuss my platform more in depth, contact me and I will discuss issues with your organization or group.
We live in a world where private companies play a pivotal role in economic growth and expansion. I want to encourage tax free zones because of the profits that result in other areas of the markets. During my years in the United Arab Emirates, I watched a desert turn green from open-minded innovation. I saw how businesses were invited into the region after the turnover of Hong Kong from British rule to China's. I saw Dubai grow, and the people become richer through "free zones" with the money made off of tax breaks.
I firmly believe that private companies grow the economy. As I have owned an LLC and a corporation in the commonwealth with SDO certification that have earned government contracts, I understand first hand the constraints. This is why I worked with Sen. Downing to pass an Amended Procurement Act after I realized we were losing our tax dollars to out-of-state companies.
If elected senator, I would use guerrilla marketing tactics to make our region a destination, and not just a place to visit. My work around the world has afforded me first-hand opportunities to see what can work on even the smallest of resources and budgets.
I like reading cutting edge research, trends, and being ahead of the game. The new wave will be artificial intelligence, and I'd like to make it lucrative for companies to make their base in our four-county district. I advocate resilience coupled with reinventions, so we are utilizing what is available to us by law, regulation and funding in this digital age.
Good enough is never good enough with me, because the world is constantly changing, and to keep up at a global level towns either decide to be flexible or face the consequences. You would not wear your 1970s clothes today, yet we are willing to live in a world that no longer exists.
If elected, I am going to work for a much-needed makeover by being candid, engaging in deep and rich discussions, and tweaking laws so that equity rules and not corruption. With my advanced degrees, I am able to deconstruct data to reshape areas that need improvement. Looking at successful models, I am able to make educated comparisons, and will work toward getting our people retrained in fields that offer better salaries and benefits.
In our modern world, each of us bares witness to new ideas, accelerated change, but it is difficult when our areas don't have the tools. This is why I will fight for broadband, and be bold enough to look at technologies that may surpass this service so that we stay ahead of the game as a future flagship to replicate. I want to reshape the area so we can have a business without borders, and emerge stronger by meeting the demands of supply opportunities.
As a professionally licensed teacher in four areas who is also a licensed superintendent of schools, I won't be pontificating from theories but from first-hand practice. Until our schools are up to par, property values will not rise. Many people buy at higher rates in areas with better schools. As I understand formulas, am finishing a doctorate in leadership and policy with a focus in compliance law to better equity, I will hold the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and its vendors accountable.
I will work to change our current standardized testing practice with new alternatives which meet federal mandates and cut back on the $125 million-plus payouts to testing vendors and third parties. Education has become a business, and the only one losing are the students. I have taken on different school districts to protect the health, welfare, and safety of children, and I won't stop, until I see improvements.
Lastly, my work has afforded me to live with the Taliban in Saniya, to go to the 38th parallel, train militaries and work with agents in international law enforcement through language-based opportunities. I have not been protected, or sheltered, but instead immersed myself in the cultures. I have also filed cases with our immigration system and other federal agencies, only to realize how broken the system is and where the loopholes lay. My first-hand knowledge alone in these areas make me a valuable servant for the public.
As a previous winner of the DAR, volunteer awards, service above self, and prestigious grants, I would be an excellent senator to serve on our state's committees for education, ways and means and Public Safety. I hope that Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire counties elect me as the incoming state senator this November.
Christine Canning is a Republican candidate for state senator.
Rinaldo Del Gallo, III: “Open challenges to candidates for state Senate”
By Rinaldo Del Gallo, III, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, 6/22/2016
PITTSFIELD - In the first week of April, I sent my fellow candidates for state Senate an e-mail asking them to agree to voluntary spending limits. Many progressives I have spoken to feel it is an excellent idea. I herein resubmit an open proposal on the subjects of spending limits, debates and columns in local papers. This offer, previously submitted in early April, I offer for 10 days after publication of this column by The Eagle.
I have been told that state Senator Ben Downing spent $100,000 to get elected when he first ran for office in 2006. I also confirmed that former state Senator Andrea Nuciforo spent a similar amount.
Please ponder that colossal dollar figure — $100,000. It is this daunting amount of money that caused me to hesitate about throwing my hat into the ring.
There are several problems with raising such an astronomical sum to run for office.
First, potentially good candidates are not entering the race. Second, when we raise such vast amounts of money, we owe people favors. Politics becomes less about people and more about campaign donors, especially large campaign donors. We all want to represent the poor and the diminishing middle class — not just people that can make campaign donations.
I am campaigning as a "Bernie Sanders progressive." Bernie has talked at great length about the evils of money and politics. It is my hope that getting money out of politics is something that all of us as Democrats can agree is not only a laudable goal but is essential to the body politic. If our government is going to be what Lincoln described as being "of the people, by the people, for the people," we need to get money out of politics. This is especially true of a state Senate race that should be all about personal conversations, debates, and expression of views in local media.
Third, I want to spend from now until Thursday, Sept. 8, looking voters in the eye and having real conversations, not raising campaign donations. It represents too much of a theft of time. Politics should be about time with people, not raising money.
I propose a limit of around $20,000 but would entertain and even prefer lower amounts. I would entertain higher ones if my fellow candidates would not agree to a $20,000 campaign spending limit. But I want to know if you will agree to any campaign spending limits of any kind or nature. It is the first policy decision you will have to make.
Here would be the parameters:
* Democratic state Senate candidates Adam Hinds and Andrea Harrington, would have to agree for this proposal to apply to the Democratic primary.
* There would be a limit on campaign contributions, but there would also be a limit on "independent" expenditures. Good faith efforts would have to be made to discourage such expenditures. The purpose would be to remove hard money and soft money.
* We could agree to raise funds for the general campaign should the Republican challenger, Christine Canning, not agree to this agreement. If the Republican does not agree to these terms, it would enhance the Democrats' chance at victory, since we would not expend money fighting each other in our primary.
* If I can get all other candidates on board that could appear in the general election, this agreement of spending limits would apply to the general election as well.
I believe that we as Democrats can make history and return democracy (with the little "d") to the people. Please join me in what could be a historic moment for democracy and its return to the people.
I would like to have debates or forums once per week until the election. There are numerous local organizations that would like to sponsor such debates and forums, and I am sure the media would cover them. I ask the other candidates to agree to this offer.
We would agree to ask to have local newspapers carry columns by all of us.
While I believe that we have a good pair of Democratic candidates in Hinds and Harrington, this open letter is extended to the Republican challenger, Canning.
Please accept this challenge in the respectful and positive manner in which it is made. Let us change the face of democracy and give it back to the people.
Rinaldo Del Gallo, III is a candidate for state Senate for the Western district comprising 52 towns.
Letter: “Improving education critical to region”
The Berkshire Eagle, 7/6/2016
To the editor:
I come from a family of educators. My father was a public school teacher and my mother a librarian in the public high school I attended. Public education prepared me for the world, and I am running for state Senate to protect that opportunity for every child in the Western Mass. district.
Towns now finalize budgets in challenging financial circumstances, forcing difficult choices related to school budgets. This past week I released my education priorities with a focus on bolstering schools by fixing funding.
First, update the Chapter 70 funding formula. In Western Mass, we face declining populations and aging infrastructure. So while "dollars follow the student" in the current funding formula, districts with declining populations still must care for aging school buildings, retiree health insurance, and other essential costs. The current formula is woefully outdated and underfunds retiree benefits and special education. I will go to Beacon Hill to fight for a fair solution for our region.
Second, even if we fix the school funding formula, we face the reality of declining populations and dwindling tax dollars. We can expand our high-quality education by allowing neighboring districts to partner and pool knowledge and resources. I will ensure necessary resources are available, and prioritize facilitating and working with all stakeholders to find sensible collaboration in the district.
Third, fully fund regional school transportation. Boston broke its promise to reimburse regional school transportation costs. Limited funds to educate our children now pay for buses.
Governor Baker's proposed FY17 budget only reimburses 68% of the cost. This unfairly impacts school districts in western Massachusetts. I will work tirelessly to get full reimbursement for regional school transportation.
Besides funding priorities, we must ensure our system of education serves everyone. I will work for universal pre-K to address the achievement gap.
Connecting schools to regional workforce needs is another priority. It includes the training needs of local businesses and pre-apprenticeship programs to bring non-traditional workers to the trades. Finally, schools increasingly need the tools to address student emotional and behavioral issues.
Education is at the center of who we are: it reflects our investment in the next generation. Successful pre-K-12 education is central to workforce development and retaining and attracting residents. As state senator, strengthening education will be central to my work.
Adam Hinds, Pittsfield
Adam Hinds is a candidate for state Senate in the Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin & Hampden district.
“Impressed by Hinds' focus on education”
The Berkshire Eagle, Letter to the Editor, 7/10/2016
To the editor:
I find Adam Hinds' approach to educational reform enlightening, from his early approach for Pre-K students to his addressing the social and emotional needs of youth. As a School Committee member, I support Adam because of his forward thinking and strong interest in our students' future.
Adam is in tune with the education needs of the districts he is looking to serve. He has many proactive approaches to assist districts as Western Massachusetts faces a declining student population and aging infrastructure. The area needs Chapter 70 formula revisions so the districts receive reimbursements that are equitable and necessary to sustain programs. Regional school transportation formulas need revamping because the districts cannot sustain their costs on 68-70 percent reimbursement at best.
Collaboration will be a tool that educators in Western Massachusetts must look at to become more efficient and sustain services. Workforce programs and funding will be needed to prepare students who are not college bound. Our students today live complicated lives that include peer relationships, social media and pressure to exceed expectations and perform at a high academic level. Partnerships need to be formed and stakeholders need to work together with a leader like Hinds.
The schools cannot do this alone, they need someone who is proactive and believes in our students and providing quality education to our students. Please join me in support of Adam Hinds for state senator.
Regina A. Hill, Adams
Letter: "Hinds' platform on education is impressive"
The Berkshire Eagle, 7/12/2016
To the editor:
I hold education very close to my heart. It's what we all have in common, and has the greatest potential to make the greatest impact on who our children grow up to become.
Adam Hinds' platform on education impresses me, and this is why I support him. He doesn't simply speak in generic phrases and buzzwords we've all heard; he tries to help all people understand, and that's what we need. He knows that part of the state isn't treated equally on Beacon Hill and the antiquated funding formulas don't look upon our school districts fairly, which is why he wants to update the formulas to fit our communities better in western Massachusetts.
Adam believes that the next state Senator should work to coordinate among districts to save money on some types of costly services and by doing so, our dollars spent on education can become even more effective. He believes every young child is entitled to pre-kindergarten, which research shows is particularly important to adolescent development.
What has impressed me the most is that Adam always stresses the need for our education programs to lead to well-paying jobs. Every student should have the chance to attend college if they wish, but not every student wants to take that path. That's okay. What every student deserves is an opportunity for gainful employment.
Our next state Senator will have to work with the Legislatures to find the funds we need to support our school districts, teachers and para-professionals. Adam has the experience and ideas necessary to follow through and make it happen!
I hope everyone will vote for Adams Hinds in the primary on Sept. 8.
On the trail: Berkshire campaigns in brief
The Berkshire Eagle, 7/9/2016
“Harrington campaign kicks off 'House Party Tour'”
RICHMOND - Andrea Harrington, a Democratic candidate for state Senate, has is planning a "Four County House Party Tour," beginning Tuesday in Great Barrington.
Harrington is running for Senate in the Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin and Hampden District being vacated by Sen. Benjamin B. Downing.
The tour will consist of 30 individual campaign house parties and meet and greets across the four counties.
"I'm proud of the true district-wide campaign we are running. From Williamstown to Westhampton and Pittsfield to Peru, we are talking to voters and doing grassroots organizing in every corner of the district," Harrington said.
She added, "I am running for state Senate to be a bold, progressive voice for Western Massachusetts, and I look forward to working with residents across the district on the issues that matter to us. I will be a tireless advocate for our communities as we work to combat the opioid epidemic, invest in public education, and develop comprehensive strategies to promote environmental sustainability and create jobs for our region."
Harrington grew up in Richmond where she lives with her husband, Tim, and their two sons. Harrington is an attorney and owns a small business in West Stockbridge.
If interested in attending a house party near you, email email@example.com.
Letter: “Andrea Harrington will fight for Senate district”
The Berkshire Eagle, 8/4/2016
To the editor:
If you have not heard of Andrea Harrington, you soon will. She is running for state senator for the 52-community Berkshire-Franklin-Hampshire-Hampden district and she deserves your vote.
I had the opportunity to get to know Attorney Harrington as she represented a beloved family member of mine with a troubling legal matter. Despite her diminutive appearance, we soon learned that this mother of two from Richmond was a spirited fighter.
Andrea provided the strength of professional resolve along with an unwavering action plan, all the while tempered with bundles of warm-hearted optimism. Unselfishly working for little more than goodwill, Attorney Harrington delivered a successful outcome.
Andrea has and continues to serve her family and community tirelessly. She has said that she is running because our district needs a state senator who is invested in this district. Certainly, deep local roots and strong family values define her character.
Much like our brave military men and women, Andrea Harrington seeks to serve to help fulfill those goals. Indeed, as our senator, we can be assured of her unflappable loyalty and determination.
Creating positive change for the western district will take time and energy, but I strongly believe that Andrea is the right person to fulfill the Senate position. She has a proven record of success. She is committed, enthusiastic, professional and a person of integrity, honor, and grace.
On Sept. 8, I strongly encourage you to vote for Andrea Harrington in the Democratic primary. I believe she has earned the opportunity to serve and represent our interests.
Gene DiNicola, Dalton
Rinaldo Del Gallo, III: “The race's true progressive”
By Rinaldo Del Gallo, III, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, 8/7/2016
PITTSFIELD - I am running for state senator as a Bernie Sanders progressive. Whenever you hear Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren or I speak at length, our speeches invariably start on the subject of wealth disparity. It is the first issue on Sanders' website. By contrast, I have never heard my two Democratic opponents use the term "wealth disparity," "wealth inequality," or otherwise significantly address the topic.
America is not a poor country. Nor is Massachusetts a poor state. When our friends and neighbors who are barely keeping their heads above water surround us, it creates the illusion of scarcity. It is just that, an illusion. The reality is that we actually live in one of the wealthiest countries in world history. The belief in this reality of grotesque wealth disparity is one of the most fundamental premises of the Sanders revolution — that the rich are becoming richer under a rigged system, and the middle class are joining the ranks of the poor in a period of unprecedented superabundance. Many places throughout the district, by way of example Pittsfield, North Adams and Adams, have seen staggering economic decline in the last 35 years.
As Sanders points out, in America, the top 1/10 of the top 1 percent of the population has as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. The top 20 people in our country own more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans, almost ½ of our population. Despite having the most productive workers in the world, our wages have gone flat while almost all new economic growth is siphoned off by the wealthiest.
My opponents would rather remain "on topic" and discuss things like the economy and funding education. They fail to see the incredible nexus. The most prosperous years in America history were the 1950s and early 1960s. Yet, during those years, the highest federal nominal income tax rate was 91 percent! (Go to DelGalloForStateSenate.com for a greater breakdown.) Today, the highest nominal tax rate is only 39.6 percent.
The data are clear: high taxes on the super rich not only do not correspond to economic collapse, but also actually correspond to economic prosperity. Why? Because in the halcyon '50s and early '60s, we were able to make major investments in infrastructure and fund education through taxes on the wealthy. Many do not know that higher education at state schools was once quite affordable because government had the revenue to pay most of the tab.
I am running on a platform of single-payer health care; universal pre-K; tuition free and debt-free state higher education; investment in green energy to replace fossil fuels and creating jobs in the Berkshires around that technology; investing in high speed rail from the Berkshires to New York and Boston and improved public transportation to get us out of cars; improving our infrastructure; investing in a technological center like the Albany Nanotech Institute that performed economic wonders, and getting that "last mile" of high speed internet in the hill towns.
Many politicians in the past have campaigned on many of these proposals, yet we never seem to have the money to fund them. This underscores the basic need to have systemic change in our tax system so that we can access this great concentrated wealth to make these programs possible.
My two opponents are not progressive enough. Both started their campaigns by being undecided (when asked by WAMC) about the proposed pipelines that would carry fracked gas through the Berkshires, and only became opposed after I entered the race.
To their credit, both say they support a $15 minimum wage and the "fair share amendment" (which would tack on another 4 percent income tax for incomes over a million dollars.) But one hopped in the race in early February, the other in early March, and yet to the best of my recollection neither said they supported a $15 minimum wage or the fair share amendment until we met in a forum on June 21 and they had to respond to a question. That's after campaigning for four to five months.
My opponents refused to agree to my call for voluntary campaign spending limits. They do not see how good people are becoming discouraged from running for office as fundraising becomes a preoccupation of races, and creates the opportunity for undue influence. They say they are for campaign finance reform, just not in their race.
As a Bernie Sanders progressive, I have been unequivocal in my opposition to the pipelines, I support voluntary spending limits and real campaign finance reform, and the central premise of my campaign is addressing wealth inequality to finance progressive change.
Rinaldo Del Gallo, III is a Democratic candidate for state Senate from the Western District.
August 7, 2016
Open letter to Rinaldo
I read your most recent op-ed about being a true economic/financial progressive in your campaign for Berkshire County State Senator. Your fiscal positions match those of the populist leaders U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
In my years of studying and trying to understand economics and finance, there are two significant points to building an equitable society for poor, working and middle class families. The first point is for someone like you who is running for political office is to get the public and private sectors to “Invest in people”. The second point is bring transformation or real change to “the vested interests” that shape the political agenda in local, state, and federal government.
Point 1: The people are the most important resource to a community, state, and nation. The only way to build this resource is for business and government entities to use part of their financial resources to invest in their citizens or customers.
It is not enough to change the tax code from a regressive to a progressive one. It is not enough to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. It is not enough to have a single-payer healthcare insurance system, which our nation does not yet have. Those are all good ideas!
We need to do more than change a few public policies. We need to ensure that the poor, working and middle class people are given the resources to achieve an opportunity for financial success via a fair political system that funds programs that invest in their lives. We need middle class and affordable housing, quality public schools in all communities (rich or poor), healthcare insurance that everyone can access, safe streets free of violent crime, financial security through living wage jobs, safe retirement accounts, and the solid foundations of Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.
Point 2: Changing the vested interests that set the political agenda is the tougher of the two points to bring an equitable society for the common person. Usually in business and politics, the vested interests always win, while the masses usually lose. The reason is that the vested interests control the government that is supposed to represent the people.
In Massachusetts, and New England, the financial institutions dominate the region’s economy. When U.S. Senator John Forbes Kerry ran against U.S. President George Walker Bush in 2004, I read that it was really big banks versus big oil, but either way “Skull and Bones” would be represented in the White House for the next 4 years.
The irony for Berkshire County and many other areas of Massachusetts is that Boston’s big banks and wealthy insurance companies are not part of these communities. Pittsfield already had a Berkshire State Senator working both for the state government and the financial institutions, but Nuciforo had to step down from the State Senate one decade ago for his corrupt and illegal conflicts of interest.
Changing the vested interests’ political agenda in Massachusetts politics could actually help places like Berkshire County. The vested interests could go from advocating for their business interests to funding programs that invest in people.
Good luck! I am rooting for you, as I did in 2003 when I lived in Pittsfield and listened to you run for local political office 13 years ago. Back then, I believed that your platform of bringing living wage jobs to Pittsfield instead of the WHEN movement that failed Pittsfield’s tanked local economy would have helped matters.
"Three Democratic candidates for Downing's seat try to separate themselves ahead of primary"
By Derek Gentile, The Berkshire Eagle, 8/7/2016
LENOX — The three candidates for an open state Senator's seat spent Sunday morning in front of about 40 voters trying to create separation between each other at a "debate" at the Lenox Town Hall.
The event was sponsored by the Lenox Chamber of Commerce and the Lenox Democratic Committee.
The three Democrats are Rinaldo Del Gallo and Adam Hinds both of Pittsfield, and Andrea Harrington of West Stockbridge.
State Representative William "Smitty" Pignatelli moderated.
Pignatelli pointed out that, with the decision by incumbent state Sen. Benjamin Downing not to run for re-election, "this is the first time in 10 years that this seat is open."
Pignatelli added that while there is considerable emphasis on the national election in November, "you have a decision to make in six weeks. The Democratic primary is Sept. 8, a Thursday. And that's an important date."
The district which Downing represents is the largest in Massachusetts, said Pignatelli, encompassing 52 cities and towns.
The event was less a debate than a discussion. The candidates were all asked the same questions and asked to respond. They were also each allowed a preliminary statement and a post-discussion statement.
In overall philosophy, the three candidates were similar. There was some nuance to each response, certainly. Del Gallo emphasized several times that he was a Progressive and follower of former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
Harrington said she would work to move the state in a more Progressive direction, while Hinds seemed more moderate.
All emphasized, for example, that they favored a thorough cleanup of the Housatonic River by General Electric.
All three also agreed that broadband access was crucial to the Berkshires, and Hinds and Harrington both noted that the delay in funding a broadband initiative was "shameful."
Del Gallo did not disagree, but pointed out that outlying towns would probably do better to fund at least a portion of the cost of initiating broadband infrastructure themselves than waiting for the state to do so.
The three candidates were all opposed to introducing more charter schools in the area.
"No one," said Harrington, "is clamoring for charter schools."
"We have school districts struggling for funding," said Hinds. He added that the state's "one size fits all" funding formula did not serve school districts in Western Massachusetts.
Del Gallo was not opposed to lifting a cap on the number of area charter schools, but emphasized he would also request that if a cap were lifted, that local school districts should decide whether to add charter schools.
The candidates supported Attorney General Maura Healey's recent decision to ban "copycat" assault weapons.
"I feel obligated to protect our children and ourselves," said Harrington. "It's not about taking away guns from sportsmen."
"These are weapons of war," said Hinds.
Del Gallo said he believed Healy did a "wise thing" in banning the weapons.
Regarding the opioid epidemic, Hinds opined that more resources were needed to deal with intervention, treatment and harm reduction. Harrington agreed, emphasizing that the district has not been granted the funds to deal with the epidemic.
Del Gallo believed that "the state has a lousy attitude toward relapse" believing that more money should be allocated to that effort.
Contact Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251. firstname.lastname@example.org @DerekGentile on Twitter.
"Democratic House and Senate hopefuls face off in Berkshire Brigades debates"
By Jim Therrien, The Berkshire Eagle, 8/12/2016
PITTSFIELD — The five Democratic candidates seeking legislative nominations in the Sept. 8 primary participated in wide-ranging candidate debates Thursday evening at Berkshire Community College.
The Senate debate, moderated by former Judge Fredric Rutberg, president of The Berkshire Eagle, included numerous questions, follow-up questions and candidate-to-candidate questions.
Del Gallo claimed the "Bernie Sanders progressive" mantle, saying he is running a Sanders-style campaign and stressing strong measures to close the income gap with tax reform to shift the burden more toward the wealthy.
He also several times asserted that he was the first of the three candidates out front on such issues as opposition to the proposed Kinder Morgan natural gas pipeline project that was dropped amid strong opposition, and to support a $15 minimum wage.
Harrington and Hinds disputed that claim, saying they also early on took the progressive stand on those issues.
Del Gallo also asserted that he has been "a visible member of the community for 15 years," advocating for causes like a ban on polystyrene in Pittsfield and writing numerous newspaper columns on a range of progressive subjects. He added that Hinds only recently returned to the area to accept a position in Pittsfield and Harrington has not been "visible" on the political scene.
Hinds, a Buckland native, said he has been directly working in the community and tackling tough issues like gang violence and drugs as the founder of the grant-funded Pittsfield Community Connection program for at-risk youth and later as the executive director of the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition in North Adams.
He also cited his work with the U.N. in the Middle East where he said he learned to work with communities toward collaboration while also encountering negotiators "with some tough actors."
Harrington described herself as someone who has "always been for the underdog" and said she'd be a tireless advocate for working families, which she said are increasingly unable to afford to live in the Berkshires and get ahead.
She promised to pursue "a progressive agenda" in the Senate and added, "I am not a politically connected person, but what I am is a fighter. Don't let my size or my gender fool you," said Harrington, who is slight of build.
The candidate said her work as an attorney and her experiences growing up in a working class family in Pittsfield have given her the ability to forge collaborations but also the insight to know when to stand up strongly in opposition.
Hinds said the Senate position "needs someone to be effective in pushing an agenda," saying his experiences growing up in a family that stressed education, his local work with youth the low-income residents, with the U.N. and working for former U.S. Rep. John Olver, D-Amherst, has prepared him for the job.
Del Gallo said in his closing remarks that "I am the anti-establishment candidate, no doubt about it." But he asserted that more than his opponents he has been out in the community and active for more than a decade and he would fight hard against income disparity, which he said is at the root of many other problems.
"You need someone with fire in his gut," he said.
In November, the winner will face Christine Canning of Lanesborough, who is running unopposed as the Republican candidate.
The debates were held in the Koussevitzky Arts Center at BCC and were recorded by Pittsfield Community Television. Rutberg noted prior the Senate debate that despite a Red Sox-Yankees game and the Olympics on TV, the room was packed, indicating that democracy was alive and well.
Contact Jim Therrien at 413-496-6247.
Letter: “Hinds shows strength on energy issues”
The Berkshire Eagle, 8/12/2016
To the editor:
The Eagle provides the best coverage in the state on energy and environment issues generally, the policy debates specific to Massachusetts and legislation on Beacon Hill. Beyond the excellence of reporting, one reason may be our region has a gerrymandered division of electric utility territories and high service costs. Another is our intimate knowledge of the costs to the environment from PCBs used in electricity distribution equipment.
Certainly one long ongoing story is that the Berkshires with neighboring hill towns of Franklin and Hampshire counties have long been the state's nursery for clean energy policy and environmental advocacy. The current slate of legislators and those who have represented the region over the last three decades have supported and often created progressive programs and regulation.
As a clean energy employer located in Adams, Berkshire Photovoltaic Services has seen close-up how policy details affect job creation and security. We will miss the steadfast vision of state Sen. Downing on clean energy programs such as those that support internships from BCC and MCLA, and his granular attention to obscure regulations such as those that now ensure fair net metering for early adopters of solar PV systems and owners of small PV systems.
All the state Senate candidates on the Democratic side have expressed support for clean energy and they all should be commended for their interest in public service.
We are urging our customers and your readers to support Adam Hinds on Sept. 8. He is ready to put in the long hours being the First District's state senator require, and he has shown in reaching out to our business and others a command of the complex details on our energy mix. He understands the true costs of a heavy reliance on fossil fuels, the benefits of encouraging renewables and demonstrates the wisdom to achieve the balanced results Sen. Downing has worked hard to preserve and improve.
Christopher Derby Kilfoyle, Adams
The writer is president, Berkshire Photovoltaic Services.
Adam Hinds: “A vision for Western Massachusetts”
By Adam Hinds, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, 7/31/2016
PITTSFIELD - Six months ago I began a campaign to be your next state senator because I believe in the extraordinary potential of this region. I remain inspired by our amazing story here in the Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin and Hampden district. We come from a strong manufacturing legacy that has brought, and continues to bring, critical infrastructure and cutting edge technology to the rest of the world. We have world-class cultural institutions, vibrant cities, welcoming small towns, and unequaled access to nature.
People throughout the district share the character and concerns of the people who surrounded me as I grew up in the small town of Buckland. We believe in basic fairness and are eager to work hard to ensure a bright future for our families.
That is what this campaign is about. It is about ensuring every working family feels secure about the future because they have a quality job in a strong economy, and their child has a first rate education. It is about overcoming decades of wage stagnation and population decline by working toward a vision for the region that inspires others to join.
As your next state senator, my top priority will be to ensure economic growth by supporting existing businesses while advocating for an environment where entrepreneurship thrives. To do this, we must improve our transportation systems and ensure access to high speed internet in every corner of the district. It is unacceptable that finalizing last mile broadband has taken this long.
We must also support our educational institutions and workforce training programs so they can meet the changing needs of our business community. With over 2,000 unfilled jobs in this region, this link puts people to work.
As the son of two public school educators, I grew up understanding the importance of a quality education. I was lucky to receive that just over the hill in the Mohawk Trail Regional School district, where both my parents worked. In Boston, I will fight for an education system that is responsibly funded across the commonwealth, not just in Boston.
I will prioritize closing the opportunity gap by supporting universal Pre-K and full-day kindergarten to help students read proficiently by third grade — a significant measure of future success. I will be a tireless advocate for changing broken funding mechanisms that fail to recognize the challenges of our rural region. It will also be my guiding mission to ensure a college education is available to all who desire one. We cannot allow the cost of higher education to deter anyone from continuing to learn and grow.
SERIOUS ON ENERGY
I will work in the trenches with business and energy leaders, and then with Senate colleagues, to find real solutions to meet clean energy and greenhouse gas reduction mandates while also reducing the burden of rising costs. We have to get serious about deploying new energy solutions. Utility bills should not hinder business growth. We should set an example by pushing forward the clean energy solutions that will make us a leader in protecting the environment and in the green energy industry.
The heroin epidemic requires a comprehensive strategy that includes prevention, intervention and treatment. I will be a fierce proponent for ensuring our prescription drug monitoring practices are strengthened, our first responders are equipped to treat overdose victims, our criminal justice system embraces mental and behavioral health services, and treatment and recovery is accessible.
Our economy, education system, energy and environmental challenges have a common link. They can contribute to a declining population that results in a smaller tax base for municipalities and a difficult environment for maintaining quality schools. Yet challenges can be viewed as opportunities to secure an even deeper connection to this place for the next generation and for more individuals today. To honor the place we love, we must create a path forward that inspires.
I have spent my career working as a convener and a problem solver from Buckland to Baghdad to the Berkshires. In each of these places I always found a way to get people to the table with a willingness to work toward solutions. No matter how difficult the issue or the individual, I stood strong for the greater good. I will bring that determination with me to Beacon Hill.
If I am fortunate enough to have your vote on Thursday, Sept. 8, I promise to tackle head on the challenges that impact our daily lives in the Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin and Hampden district.
Adam Hinds is a Democratic candidate for state Senate.
Chris Canning: “Show us the money, says GOP candidate”
By Chris Canning, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, 7/31/2016
PITTSFIELD - I am the Republican candidate for state senator for Western Mass. in November and I have a strong bipartisan following because I represent hope for real change. Due to my extensive background in business and education, coupled with my experience in life, I understand what it means to lose a job, find a job, be a victim of a system, to overcome adversity, and to empathize with my constituents. I know how to reinvent, use creativity, expose corruption, and mend broken systems.
My primary goal is to create a clear economic vision and strategy which encourages sustainable economic growth. My economic goal is to build a stronger and more vibrant area. My priority is to bring professional, mid-level, skilled and unskilled jobs back to our counties by encouraging vocational education, academic training, and incentives to entice the business community to think of our area in terms of commerce.
I want our small businesses to become Supplier Diversity Office (SDO) certified so that they can be eligible for state contracts awarded with grants under executive order 390. After finding a loophole that cost our county a $14 million contract, I worked with Sen. Downing to change the law. A uniform procurement amendment was put into legislation requiring state agencies to give purchasing preference to Massachusetts-based corporations.
From owning companies, I speak from firsthand knowledge of the vicissitudes associated with seeking contracts. If elected, I want to repurpose agriculture, reinvent our infrastructure and renew our economic growth.
I will aggressively entice federal agencies to contract with our counties. Using my experiences from Dubai to Hong Kong, I will work to match the modern economy and global practices, such as promoting tax-free zones.
As your next senator, I want our communities to be part of an innovation train that goes beyond just sustainability. My goal is to rethink, repurpose, reinvent, and stabilize our sketchy economy. We need to encourage R & D, think tanks, and other institutions with deep financial pockets to look at our area as a game changer for investment.
If I am elected your next senator, my goal is to project more transparency, to gain financial trust, to find incentives that are reward-based, to use technology for better accountability, conduct independent analysis of payoffs on investment, and to recognize the work ethic potential of our people. Education and training are key to investment. To be vibrant we must attract potential businesses that can stimulate growth and attract like-minded businesses.
I want to promote regulatory reform. I want to coordinate better local and state rules that overlap. In the current budget system, trust line items and federal line items have the potential to be reallocated, but state line items do not have that flexibility.
As senator, I will set criteria for local investment to match our strategies and anticipated needs by supporting existing business sectors while planning for emerging sectors. I will identify priority areas for economic regeneration, infrastructure provision and environmental enhancement. Look beyond the party labels, and realize I am the best candidate to serve our areas, as my past has shown, my integrity, work ethic, ability to face adversity, and willingness to think outside the box for viable solutions.
With my experience, expertise, and education, I hope you recognize that I am a sound investment as your next public servant. Let me be what Republican U.S. Rep. Silvio Conte once was to our people. I will work to curb taxes and look at best practices so that we can have equitable growth.
I am the only candidate guaranteed to be on the November ballot as the other party has a primary runoff. Start early and prepare. Know before going into the voting booth that you want to go beyond labels. You want the best candidate available, and that is why you your vote should be for Chris Canning as the next state senator of Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin, and Hampden counties.
Andrea Harrington: “Public service goals rooted in Berkshires”
By Andrea Harrington, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, 8/9/2016
GREAT BARRINGTON - For the past decade, we have had tremendous leadership in the Massachusetts state Senate. Ben Downing has been an outstanding advocate for our region, leading on issues impacting Western Massachusetts. When Ben announced that he would not seek re-election this fall, I decided to run for Senate to continue this tireless advocacy for the 52 towns and cities in the district.
This election will have major ramifications on our communities, so I want to take this opportunity to tell you a little about who I am, where I come from, and how my background and life experiences have shaped my approach to public service and advocacy.
I am running for state Senate because Western Massachusetts needs a bold, progressive leader who has lived and understands the triumphs and challenges of our region. As a small business owner, a parent, and someone who grew up here, I have the unique experience and perspective to make a meaningful impact in office.
My approach to public service is deeply rooted in where I'm from and how I was raised. I grew up in the Berkshires. My dad was a carpenter and my mom cleaned houses for a living, while my grandparents and great grandparents worked at General Electric and Sprague. Hard work was a virtue in our home, and I started working alongside my mom when I was old enough to lend a hand.
Thanks to the hard work and strong values of my parents and grandparents, I have had opportunities that they did not enjoy. I graduated from Pittsfield public schools (Taconic High School) and became the first person in my family to graduate from college, and then law school.
After law school, I worked as an attorney focused on overturning death penalty cases. Since then, I have continued to practice law in Pittsfield and my husband and I own a small business — The Public Market in West Stockbridge.
We are raising our two boys in the small town where I grew up. There is no better place than the Berkshires to raise a family, but we constantly see the impacts of population decline and lack of jobs and opportunity.
As state senator, I will make growing good jobs and economic opportunity my top priorities. As a small business owner, I have seen real, tangible investments that can grow jobs in the Berkshires. My Economic Investment Plan includes proven strategies to create not just jobs, but careers, for Western Massachusetts. This ranges from investment in job training programs, modernizing vocational education for a 21st century economy, expanding broadband internet, creating regional partnerships and fostering greater collaboration throughout all sectors of business and our colleges and universities, and working to make the Berkshires a national leader in both the green and cultural economy.
I also support key investments in our public schools. I am a proud public school parent and have been active in the school site council for my boys. The student funding formula is not working for Western Massachusetts, and I will be a strong advocate to ensure that our PUBLIC schools, students, and teachers are receiving the resources they need to continue the great education that they provide for our kids.
NO DUMPS, FRACKING
Last week, I released a detailed environmental agenda, because I believe that protecting the natural beauty of the Berkshires and making Massachusetts more sustainable are important priorities. That is why I have been an outspoken opponent of the proposed PCB dumps in the Berkshires and the proposed fracked gas pipeline.
Finally, we have seen the opioid epidemic claim the lives of our friends and family members. I applaud the work of all those fighting this public health crisis every day, and it was important to see government come together in a bipartisan way to pass meaningful legislation this spring. We must continue to increase access to recovery beds and prioritize treatment over incarceration for non-violent drug offenders and expand the use of drug courts.
It has been incredible meeting thousands of our neighbors in the Berkshires since we launched our campaign this spring. I will continue to work hard to earn your vote, and I encourage you to read more about my plans and priorities at www.andreaforsenate.com.
Andrea Harrington is a candidate for state Senate from the Western District.
"Senate hopeful Harrington aims to expand opportunity, fight income disparity"
By Richie Davis, Recorder Staff, August 17, 2016
PITTSFIELD — When state Senate candidate Andrea Harrington returned to southern Berkshire County in 2009 after attending school in Seattle and Washington D.C. and working in criminal law in Florida, she found that the economic landscape had changed.
Harrington, one of three Democrats running for the state Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Benjamin Downing, had gone to Pittsfield public schools, and her family has lived in the Berkshires for generations, many of them working in factory jobs that have now vanished at Sprague Electric and General Electric.
“We had a lot more of those good manufacturing jobs, (but) over time, we’ve seen an increase in service jobs, and there really is dependency on the tourist economy and servicing second-home owners, particularly in south county,” said the Richmond attorney, who watched her family shift from well-paying manufacturing work to servicing the second-home economy: her father moved to carpentering, her mother started a house-cleaning business. Harrington attended the University of Washington and American University’s Washington College of Law.
“In my work, I see a lot of young people who are really struggling, a lot of families in family and probate court who struggle to make ends meet,” said the 41-year-old mother of two, whose husband owns the Public Market in West Stockbridge. “There are two major groups of people: the people who make a living somewhere else and the people who have to earn a living from the people who live here.”
Doing criminal defense as well as divorce and family law, she said, “I see a lot of those people, all the time: They need my help, and can’t afford to hire me.”
She said she’s running for the seat in the 52-community district “because our district needs a leader who understands the challenges facing our communities and will build on the opportunities we have to create jobs and protect our children. … I am running to expand the bright spots in our regional economy. In court I have seen too many lives impacted by financial hardship. … I believe we need to expand economic opportunity in this region.
A board member of Berkshares, a local currency for Berkshire County, Harrington’s work with the organization focuses on supporting local business, growing entrepreneurship, and the new community-supported industry program. She also volunteers with programs to provide expanded educational opportunities for young people in Berkshire County: the Railroad Street Youth Project, the Crocus Fund and the Berkshire Academies’ Mentors.
And she serves on the Affordable Housing Committee in her southern Berkshire County town.
Harrington has been endorsed by the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus and a host of labor organizations, including the National Association of Social Workers, Western Massachusetts Carpenters Union Local 108, SEIU Local 888, and the Massachusetts Organization of State Engineers and Scientists.
Harrington says she loves her work, but confesses, “I feel if I’m going to work this hard, I want my work to have a bigger impact. … I really know what people here in our district are going through. And I have the skills to go and be our voice in Boston and to work for state policies that are going to work better for people here. I’ve been working for the past 13 years as an advocate for my clients every day.”
Among her priorities are to advocate for more education funding and job training money from the state in order to attract and keep better jobs in the region.
“I work with a lot of young people who just don’t have the job skills that they need to support their families,” she says. “Supporting our local businesses is something I’m very passionate about.”
Harrington wants to lower energy costs to make the state more attractive to potential employers. She opposes construction of new gas pipelines in the state and the proposed surcharges to pay for them, while supporting lifting the solar net-metering cap to create green jobs and expand renewable energy sources.
Harrington said she’s intrigued by the Pioneer Valley’s Co-Op Power model of community-owned and controlled energy as “hugely empowering,” especially for people who don’t own their own homes or who can’t afford to invest in rooftop solar.
She favors closing corporate tax loopholes and supports a proposed “millionaire’s tax” amendment to help pay for increased workforce development and improving the quality of education.
She points to problems with funding formulas for rural schools and with an overemphasis on testing rather than on learning holistically.
“In Massachusetts, we have one of the most aggressive innovation economies in the country, second only to Silicon Valley,” she said. “I want to pull those opportunities west and make more connections with businesses here in the western part of the state. … I don’t think this is a situation in which Boston’s going to save us; it’s something we’re going to have to do for ourselves, working together. But certainly we need a strong advocate who’s going to fight for us to build those connections between western Mass. businesses and eastern Mass. businesses, and to get the funding, and also a leader to help the district to work together in a coordinated way on expanding economic opportunity.”
Businesses that are already here need help filling jobs by improving the skills of their workers and improving transportation.
“Absolutely having a living wage is key, particularly in this area, where a lot of jobs are service jobs,” Harrington said. “I am a strong proponent of unions. And I see having strong policies for working families, including a $15 wage as being essential to people’s ability to support themselves — and as a way to prevent further income inequality.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Three Democrats will compete in the primary election Thursday, Nov. 8 for the Berkshire Hampshire Franklin Hampden Senate seat being vacated after 10 years by Sen. Benjamin Downing, D-Pittsfield. The elected Democrat will run against Republican candidate Christine Canning of Lanesborough, who has no primary opponent. This is the second of three candidate profiles.)
August 22, 2016
Re: Dan Valenti is unfairly negative against Andrea Harrington for Berkshire State Senator
Like Andrea Harrington, I graduated in 1993, but I went to Pittsfield High School instead of Taconic High School. She has accomplished a lot in her life. She has a law degree, professional experience, runs a small family business, is married with children, and she is invested in the community. She has a positive vision for Berkshire County when the local economy is at its lowest point in decades. She stands for progressive causes, including public education and economic development. She is not the hand-picked candidate that Adam Hinds is by the Pittsfield political machine. She does not have the name recognition that Rinaldo Del Gallo III has in Pittsfield politics. Rinaldo's uncle Remo Del Gallo is a former Pittsfield Mayor who has been involved in Massachusetts state and local politics for many decades. I am friends with Rinaldo and I respect the long standing leadership of his uncle Remo Del Gallo. Andrea Harrington is a long shot in this year's race for Berkshire State Senator. She will probably finish in third place. I don't believe it is fair for Dan Valenti to predict she is running a pseudo-campaign to be a spoiler to split Rinaldo's vote tally in favor of Adam Hinds so she can be set up for a political plum sinecure. Isn't that what Chris Speranzo did? He is the lifelong Pittsfield Clerk of Courts making a 6-figure yearly salary + lucrative state government benefits that will give him a big state government pension in his old age. What about Peter Larkin? He also makes a 6-figure salary as a GE lobbyist who ensures that Pittsfield remain polluted with cancer-causing PCBs! What about William "Smitty" Pignatelli running unopposed for his 8th term as Lenox State Representative? How many terms will this political hack, career politician serve? I predict at least 2 more decades so he can collect a big state government pension in his old age. It is more than fair to point one's finger at Pols like Speranzo, Larkin, and Pignatelli than it is to pass judgment of one's prediction on a qualified candidate with ideals named Andrea Harrington who is running a long-shot campaign for Berkshire State Senator in 2016.
- Jonathan Melle
- Jonathan Melle
- Amherst, NH, United States
- I am a citizen defending the people against corrupt Pols who only serve their Corporate Elite masters, not the people! / My 2 political enemies are Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr., nicknamed "Luciforo" and former Berkshire County Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr. / I have also pasted many of my political essays on "The Berkshire Blog": berkshireeagle.blogspot.com / I AM THE ANTI-FRANK GUINTA! / Please contact me at email@example.com
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