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Great Barrington Select Board Member Running for 3rd District Seat
By Sabrina Damms, iBerkshires Staff
05:48PM / Sunday, February 18, 2024
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Great Barrington Select Board member Leigh Davis on Friday announces her run for the House seat being vacated by state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli.

Leigh Davis says housing is her No. 1 priority having seen personally and professionally how instability in housing affects people, businesses and communities. 
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass.— Leigh Davis launched her run for the State House from the steps of Town Hall in Friday surrounded by supporters holding campaign signs.
The area deserves someone who will constantly show up and advocate for the community, the vice chair of the Select Board said. She pledged to be that person. 
"This has been my mission for the past 15 years since I landed here with my three children from Ireland," Davis said.
"I'm running for this office because I care. I'm running because I want to make a difference. I'm running because I want things to be better. And I'm willing to put the work in. I'm running because you're here today and I'm here today and we're in this together."
Davis is the second Democrat to announce their candidacy; Stockbridge Select Board member Patrick White stated his intentions last week to run for the 3rd Berkshire seat. 
Longtime state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli earlier this month said he would not pursue a 12th term representing the largely South County district. 
Davis is the communications and community engagement director for Construct, the largest affordable housing nonprofit in Southern Berkshire. 
Her No. 1 priority is housing because the housing crisis is affecting everyone, she said, from businesses that cannot find staff, seniors who cannot afford their homes, health-care providers who are forced to cut back on essential services, and youth who are losing hope.
"It disproportionately impacts people of color. People on low income, people with disabilities and most importantly, it impacts our communities. Housing is supposed to bring people together, not tear us apart," she said. 
Davis listed the problems contributing to the housing crisis such as "skyrocketing rents, evictions, Airbnbs, nimbyism, restrictive zoning codes, redlining investors out bidding first time homebuyers, the list goes on.
"It's time to take back our communities and our neighborhoods."
It is these issues that drove Davis to visit the State House twice, and to wait nine hours to testify before the Joint Committee on Revenue and the Joint Committee on Housing.
"It might sound too much but I showed up and I represented the Berkshires and I'll continue to show up," she said. 
"One of my other priorities, if I were to be elected, is to make some noise at the State House. I want to fight for better representation for Western Mass."
She wants to ensure that the area gets its fair share in state funds so that the Berkshires can address its rural needs, such as investing in workforce development, broadband, and transportation. 
"We need to do a better job at improving regional efficiencies. We need all towns to share the burden and get better at working together," she said.
"We need to find a better way to coordinate our resources, our strategies, our actions. We need to be smarter with taxpayers money. Working for these causes, needs listening and working with others." 
The first job of a legislator is to listen, she said, which is exactly what she plans to do and is looking forward to doing for the next six months. Davis emphasized she does not know everything and that to make an impact the community needs to work together.
"I look forward to meeting the residents in Dalton and learning more about the police detail fund that they've been discussing for 20 years, and supporting the residents in Lee to keep [General Electric's] toxic material waste off their streets, and sitting down with the Mount Washington leaders to see what it took to get broadband in their town without a municipal light plan," she said. 
She first served on the town's Finance Committee beginning in 2015 and was elected to the Select Board in 2019.
She has volunteered with and held leadership positions in numerous organizations since moving back to the states from Ireland in 2009, such as HospiceCare of the Berkshires, Blackshires Community Empowerment Foundation, the W.E.B. Du Bois Legacy Committee, Great Barrington Community Preservation Committee, Lake Mansfield Improvement Task Force.
She said she has overcome a lot of struggles from supporting a family as a single mother and experienced racism. 
"I'm biracial. My father's black. So, they went through a lot as a biracial couple in Washington, D.C. When they bought our house in Washington, two families moved off our street because my father is Black," she told iBerkshires.
She said she has always worked hard, whether it was during her career as a film editor in Hollywood, professor in Ireland, business owner, marketing coordinator, and all the hats she has worn throughout her life. 
"I have such a different life experiences and I've been through a lot. It has not been easy. So, there's been a lot of pain and a lot of work. So, I really appreciate what people go through and I've definitely struggled," she said. 
"I qualify for the housing I advocate for so I know what it's like. I know what it's like not to have stable housing. I mean, thank goodness, I'm stable now but it's a struggle. It's a struggle to pay the bills."
Davis commended the work of Pignatelli over the last two decades. 
"He has stepped up and served us with integrity and with grace. He's focused on the problems that made a difference to residents while taking a stand on some tough issues at the State House," she said.
"For this I am grateful his commitment to our community has inspired me to run and he's left some big shoes to fill. I hope I'm fortunate enough to fill them. So, I'm asking for your vote in the primary in September."
More information on Davis' campaign here
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