West Stockbridge — Democratic state senate candidate and Berkshire County native Andrea Harrington told a supporters and the press this morning that she can get the job done in this district as a “practical, passionate and progressive leader” because she’s been “on the front lines” dealing with the region’s core issues and understands “the challenges and triumphs of raising a family here.”
Harrington is seeking outgoing Senator Benjamin Downing’s (D-Pittsfield) seat for which Downing decided not to seek re-election. Democrat Adam Hinds announced in January the start of his campaign to win the district, which includes Berkshire, Hamden, Hampshire and Franklin counties. Campaign manager Greg Maynard said Harrington is still accumulating the 300 required certified signatures.
Harrington, 41, formally announced her run this morning (March 8) outside Public Market, the grocery and deli owned by her husband Timothy Walsh. It was a family affair; at one point her two young boys attached themselves to her as she answered reporters’ questions. Walsh gently lured them away.
An attorney with Hellman, Shearn & Arienti, Harrington practices divorce, family and criminal law. She moved back to Richmond, where she grew up, after practicing law in Miami, Florida, where she worked “overturning death penalty convictions.” She said she found a “hope” in that “grueling work” despite the challenges, and says she can apply those lessons to solve one of the region’s greatest problems: “economic decline.”
She went to Pittsfield schools, and was the first in her family to graduate from college and law school. She is running, she said, to “give back to the community.” Generations of her family lived in the Pittsfield area, she said. They were farmers, housekeepers and carpenters, General Electric and Sprague Electric workers who, she said, left her a “legacy of a strong work ethic…grit” that as a legislator she would use to “tackle tough problems.”
One of those is the opioid epidemic, the new scourge of Berkshire County, partly because it is now cheaper than a six-pack of beer. “We must drive every last dealer out of this district and send them packing back to where they came from,” she said. “Prevention is the answer to turning around the spread of opioids and crime. It is early diagnosis and treatment for mental illness and learning disabilities that prevents substance abuse.”
The way through that morass, she added, is with “high quality education” and opportunities.
Another thing that is slowing progress is the lack of high-speed Internet in these rural hills, something state and local officials consider critical to economic development. “I’ll be fighting for that in Boston, and here,” she said.
Harrington is on the board of BerkShares, a currency that keeps the money local. “The shift of just three percent in our spending back into Berkshire County could generate an additional $50 million in economic impact,” she said. “That $50 million can translate into more than 35 local jobs. These jobs could add as much as $3.2 million to the local and state tax base.”
In a prepared statement last week, Harrington said her work with BerkShares “focuses on supporting local business, growing entrepreneurship, and the new community-supported industry program (CSI).”
Harrington volunteers with the following organizations: the Railroad Street Youth Project, the Crocus Fund, and the Berkshire Academies’ Mentors.
She also made her position clear about PCB (polychlorinated biphenyls) dumps in Berkshire County. She told the Edge she supports the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) directive to General Electric (GE), that it should ship PCB-contaminated Housatonic River sludge to special facilities out of state under the federally ordered cleanup. GE wants to dump the PCB’s locally, and already owns some land to do so. The company is now in a standoff with the EPA over it. Harrington said it was going to be a “tough” fight involving “many years of litigation.”