|Endorsements Roll in For Final Push in District Attorney Race|
|Staff Reports, |
07:41AM / Sunday, September 02, 2018
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — As the primary election day approaches, a number of elected officials have been choosing their sides in the district attorney race.
Whether those final affirmations by well-known names will swing any late-deciders toward — or away — from a candidate is yet to be seen. Still, the candidates vying for the Democratic nomination for Berkshire district attorney, and essentially the election, have been showcasing the support they racked up.
Paul Caccaviello, the incumbents, boasts of two former mayors, city councilors in both Pittsfield and North Adams, and Sheriff Thomas Bowler as lead endorsements in his camp. Andrea Harrington reeled in the support of Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer, also a number of city councilors, and some community leaders. Judith Knight hasn't seen that much of elected support but does have some of the bigger movers and shakers in the local Democratic Party on her side
"Pushing the political rhetoric aside, and as you can cast your vote, remind yourself this: in the worst moments of your life, if you or a family member is a victim of a serious crime, Paul Cacciavello is the person you want standing up on your behalf," former North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright wrote in a letter to the editor..
"I know Paul and I know I am voting for a man with a tremendous record, a man of outstanding character, a man who can not be corrupted, a man who will not make a promise he cannot deliver on, a man who has truly earned the distinction of district attorney and the obvious and absolute voice of experience."
Caccaviello also has the support of former Mayor Dan Bianchi.
"Paul Caccaviello has committed his life to our community in one of the most difficult jobs our society asks a person to perform. Paul has put away vicious killers, criminals who prayed on our children, and those who have victimized the elderly. He has protected our families. Paul has been a dedicated public servant in an area of the law that is not particularly rewarding financially and one that can be personally difficult on the family. He has done his job well for many years. I hope our community will be blessed with many more years of Paul Caccaviello's experience, service, and dedication," Bianchi wrote.
"My endorsement comes with the strong belief that Andrea and I share similar values and we are like-minded. We both believe in creating opportunities for social justice and for thinking differently about entrenched problems," Tyer said during a press conference. "Our leadership styles are similar in that we seek diversity of thought, opinion, and professional experiences to inform our decisions. We believe in building any bridge to find a solution or to advance a progressive idea."
Pittsfield is likely to serve as the most important voting block in the election. Primaries tend to have low turnouts and a big win in the largest population center puts opponents in a difficult position to make those votes back up in the outlying towns.
Harrington also has Pittsfield City Council President Peter Marchetti on her side. Last week, Marchetti joined Council Vice President John Krol, Councilors Helen Moon and Pete White, and former City Councilor Christine Yon in support of Harrington.
"We especially like her vision to combat the opioid epidemic. We recognize this is a national issue and not just a city or county issue. However, we also know that we must address the issue head-on from a legal aspect to reduce the crimes that are associated with the addiction. We need to provide the needed rehabilitation to help deter the vicious cycles that we see today. We cannot prosecute our way out of the opioid crisis and we do ourselves no favors when we choose not to take a fresh, more proactive approach to addiction, domestic violence, and sexual assault," Marchetti said speaking on behalf of the four.
"This issue should be about creating safer streets for our community and we know today that people do not feel safe in their community. We must solve the underlying issues to move forward."
At the same event, Michael Lavery, chairman of the Becket Board of Selectmen, announced his endorsement. Harrington received the endorsements of just short of a dozen officials from smaller towns throughout the county.
But Harrington doesn't have the support of all of the City Council. Caccaviello reeled in the endorsements of Melissa Mazzeo, Kevin Morandi, and Anthony Simonelli. In North Adams, Caccaviello has City Councilors Keith Bona and Rebbecca Cohen on his side.
One of Caccaviello's most important endorsements is from the current sheriff, Thomas Bowler.
"Over the last 30 years in the district attorney's office Paul Caccaviello has handled 5,300 cases. The fact should matter very much to the voters of Berkshire County," Bowler wrote. "I urge voters to get the facts on the candidates for district attorney. Only Paul Caccaviello has the experience for what is clearly one of the most important jobs in our community."
He also picked up the endorsement of the Pittsfield Police officers union and Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni.
"Paul has the experience to ensure that the citizens of Berkshire County will be safe, firstly and foremost, but to also lead the office into a new era of smart on crime policies and reforms that assist young people and those fighting addiction. Therefore, I proudly endorse Paul as the best choice for a safe and strong Berkshire County," Gulluni wrote.
Harrington has support from North Adams City Councilors Jason LaForest and Marie T. Harpin. LaForest cited North Adams as having the No. 1 crime rate per capita in the state and recognized there are problems with domestic abuse and drugs.
"Attorney Andrea Harrington came out early as a leader addressing these issues and has led the conversation in forums and debates across the county to ensure criminal justice reform can and will happen here in Berkshire County," LaForest said.
Judith Knight hasn't quite used the endorsement campaign tactic. However, she has the support of the 1st Berkshire District's former representative Daniel Bosley, and members of the Berkshire Brigades. While the Brigades as an organization doesn't endorse candidates in primary races, Sheila Murray, Sherwood Guernsey, Lee Harrison, and Tommie Hutto-Blake, who have been important pieces of the group, have given their support to Knight.
Bosley, the former longtime state representative for Northern Berkshire, who said Knight's positions were developed over years and not during the campaign.
"Judy Knight has spent years experiencing all sides of the law. She has been an adjunct law professor, spent time as an assistant District Attorney and has been a public defender. She is a criminal attorney. No one else in this race has her broad range of experience. She is by far, the best choice. I hope you will join with me in voting for Judy on September 4. She is ready, passionate, committed and experienced," he wrote in his letter to the editor.
Harrington, however, has gotten the support of the co-founders of Greylock Together, an organization pushing for progressive policies, and of current leaders of the Brigades.
This article was edited to clarify that both Knight and Harrington have support from current and former leaders of the Berkshire Brigades and to remove a name that was incorrectly added as an endorser.