Adam Hinds opposes legalizing marijuana; supports A.G. on copycat assault weapons ban


For the Gazette

Published: 11-02-2016 12:08 AM

After beating back two challengers in the Democratic primary in September, Adam Hinds of Pittsfield is involved in a two-party race for a state Senate seat.

The 40-year-old Buckland native and Mohawk Trail Regional High School graduate has repeatedly pointed to his negotiations experience in the Mideast for the United Nations over nearly a decade as a key strength he would bring as a state senator.

The 52-community Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin and Hampden District seat being vacated after 10 years by Pittsfield Democrat Benjamin Downing, includes nine hilltowns in western Hampshire County, as well as Blandford and Chester.

Hinds is the executive director of the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition and founding director of Pittsfield Community Connection.

A graduate of Wesleyan University and Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Hinds worked on the 1998 and 2000 campaigns of former U.S. Rep. John W. Olver and served as his 2000 campaign manager. He was New Hampshire regional coordinator from 2003 to 2004 for presidential candidate John Kerry, later serving on his campaign’s national security and foreign policy team.

In his work in Pittsfield and more recently northern Berkshire County, Hinds led a program to help troubled young men move toward education, jobs and counseling, and has headed a coalition providing family and child support services and coalition-building to respond to local challenges, including access to health care and strategies around heroin addiction.

At campaign forums in Ashfield and Berkshire County with his Republican opponent, Christine Canning of Lanesborough, Hinds has outlined positions including his own intention to vote against the ballot question that would legalize marijuana in Massachusetts over his concerns about pot’s effect on the still-developing brains of young people as well legal questions about its impairment of driving and restrictions on edible products made with the weed.

Hinds opposes lifting the cap on the state’s charter schools.

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“To me, it’s really about financing,” he says. “Right here in Mohawk, for example there’s a Chapter 70 shortfall of $600,00 … We’re going to need to get our financing right first.”

At the Ashfield forum, Hinds differed from Canning in defending Attorney General Maura Healey’s ban on so-called copycat assault weapons in July, a move she had said was to close a gap in the state’s existing assault-weapons ban.

“Being clear what we want on our streets is important,” said Hinds, saying that he supports Second Amendment rights but that “weapons of war” aren’t what was intended for protection. “It should be a deliberate conversation. Could Maura Healey have taken a more deliberative public process and consulted with, worked through the Legislature? Yes. We’ve had more mass shootings in this country than there were calendar days last year, we’ve had eight officers killed in recent months. … So you can understand the context in which she’s making sure that cops are not shot in Massachusetts. For that reason, I’m willing to continue to work with her on this issue.”

Hinds has outlined program goals that include universal pre-kindergarten and full-day kindergarten and changes to the state’s education funding formulas to “recognize the challenges specific to rural districts or those with declining populations.”

Hinds has won endorsements from Olver, Downing, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan and other public officials. Among the organizations endorsing him are the Massachusetts Teachers Association, the American Federation of Teachers, Laborers’ International Union of North America, 1199SEIU and the National Association of Social Workers , SEIU Local 509 and the Massachusetts Organization of State Engineers and Scientists, as well as progressive advocacy organization Mass Alliance.

“We need somebody who can stand up and be a strong voice for Western Mass.,” said Hinds, emphasizing that this part of the state is often ignored on Beacon Hill.

“My entire career has been characterized by getting large groups of people together to get things done, doing it in an effective way, in a way that’s in line with your highest ideals and your basic values,” Hinds said. A state senator can help those kinds of “community-level conversations” in big questions to bring together municipalities, schools and other players. “On Beacon Hill, it’s the same set of challenges.”