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State Rep. Meetings With Two DA Candidates Under Scrutiny

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Facebook: Tricia Farley-Bouvier
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A state politician’s involvement in the Berkshire District Attorney race is making waves in the already contentious campaign.

Meetings between Democratic State Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier and two DA primary candidates have prompted front-page headlines locally and statewide commentary online.

“My goal is to have a progressive district attorney in Berkshire County — it’s really the goal. It’s very, very simple. However we get to the point that we have a progressive district attorney in Berkshire County, I will be pleased with," said Farley-Bouvier to WAMC. “The district attorneys association across the commonwealth has enormous influence on the bills that turn into laws, become laws in the commonwealth, and I would like the district attorney from Berkshire County to be a leader in that rather than what I have experienced in the past, and that is someone who has truly resisted and impeded progress on progressive agenda when it comes to criminal justice reform.”

She cited racial justice and the courts’ role in handling the opioid epidemic as areas where the Berkshire DA could be a progressive leader.

“We have an opportunity here with three very exceptional professionals to make a choice about how we want to accomplish that,” said Farley-Bouvier. She told WAMC that she made overtures to all three candidates to talk Berkshire County politics, how to run a campaign, legislative issues, and more.

Two of them took her up on the offer.

“I met with Tricia because I was meeting with all the political people in Pittsfield and North Adams, just setting up meetings to talk about my campaign," said Judith Knight, one of the two self-described progressives running for DA. “In that meeting, Tricia brought up the issue of the two progressives running — should there be a meeting, that kind of thing.”

“You know, it sounds like two of these candidates are very similar, would you like — seems like it would be a good idea for you two to get together, could I be helpful in putting something like that…" said Farley-Bouvier. “The offer was soundly declined. I made the offer to the other candidates, the offer was remarkably similarly declined, and the issue has been over since then.”

“Representative Farley-Bouvier and a number of other people have suggested that maybe it would be preferable if there were one sort of quote-unquote ‘progressive candidate,'" said Andrea Harrington, the other candidate who met with Farley-Bouvier. She said it happened in June, and that “none of those overtures have really ever gone anywhere.”

Neither she nor Knight, who have battled over the claim that they are the most progressive candidate, say they were asked to drop out by Farley-Bouvier.

Knight says that her talk with the representative wasn’t solely about consolidating the progressive vote.

“I think her intentions — I think they were good. It wasn’t the purpose of the meeting — much of it was about my platform and what I wanted to do,” she said.

“I think the notion that a state elected official would seek to affect the outcome in the election — I think it’s highly inappropriate," said the third candidate, sitting DA Paul Caccaviello. He was appointed to the seat by Governor Charlie Baker in March following months of behind the scenes planning between the statehouse and then-DA David Capeless. He didn’t meet with Farley-Bouvier.

“This is a decision that the voters should make, and any effort to sort of limit their options — I think that’s not something we should be encouraging,” said Caccaviello.

“This was an offer to get two people together, and if I could facilitate that meeting by inviting each of them — each of them together for them to work it out, I don’t see it as an overstep," said Farley-Bouvier. “It was me trying to be of service.”

The pivotal primary is September 4th.

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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