A candidate who was recently on the ballot is now running for Berkshire District Attorney.
In the wake of former District Attorney David Capeless’s surprise decision to retire on March 1st, much has happened. His First Assistant, Paul Caccaviello, was sworn in on March 15th ahead of November’s election for the seat.
“The only head start I have in the campaign is my 28 years of service to the county,” Caccaviello said.
The swearing-in saw high-ranking members of the Berkshire law enforcement community, like County Sheriff and fellow Democrat Thomas Bowler, pledge support to Caccaviello.
“Longtime friend, longtime colleague, and I’ll continue to support him," said Bowler. "Without any hesitation or reservation.”
Now, another candidate has emerged: Great Barrington attorney Andrea Harrington, also a Democrat.
“I grew up in Berkshire County, I graduated from Taconic High School, I have been practicing criminal law for 15 years, and I have seen a tremendous opportunity in the district attorney’s office to implement programs that are going to lift our community up and are going to protect public safety in much more cost effective manner,” said Harrington.
Berkshire voters probably remember Harrington from her unsuccessful 2016 bid for state Senate, an election won by now-Senator Adam Hinds. Noting the reality that the county is among the state’s poorest, Harrington says she’s motivated by the county’s residents.
“We have people that are working really hard to improve our economy, and working hard to expand local and small business and to bring more opportunity to Berkshire County, and it’s really inspired me to want to continue to fight for this community, and protecting the public and law enforcement is an incredibly important piece of having a strong community,” said Harrington.
“The way that the system is currently run isn’t working well. We pour a tremendous amount of resources into prosecuting and locking up people for low-level nonviolent criminal offenses. And those resources could be better spent being reallocated to programs that are actually going to help people, stop people getting involved in the criminal justice system, stop people reoffending.”
In a year that has seen successful runs by progressive DA candidates across the country — like Larry Krasner in Philadelphia — Harrington says her campaign is part of a national moment.
“The effect of not having contested DA races, not talking about these issues, not having a public discourse and vigorous debate about how to best protect the public has lead to a lot of stagnation in particularly the Berkshire County district attorney’s office and other DA offices across the country. So now we’re finally starting to see public opinion catching up with the things professionals working in the criminal justice system have known and understood for a long time now,” said Harrington.
Harrington identified her rival as a part of that stagnation.
“The current district attorney has been with that office for a long time, he has been part of the leadership there. And that office has been very resistant to change, that office has worked actively against criminal justice reform, and I would bring drug courts to Berkshire County, I would support veterans courts, I would support diversion programs. I offer a fresh approach and I offer new ideas to the voters and the people of Berkshire County,” said Harrington.
“I will extend my congratulations to Ms. Harrington in her decision to enter this race," said Caccaviello. "I look forward to this opportunity to talk about the role of the district attorney’s office in the criminal justice system as well as our work in the communities we serve.”
While not backing either candidate, Albany, New York District Attorney David Soares, a Democrat, spoke about the importance of elections for DA on WAMC’s Roundtable panel.
“Prosecutors have to reflect the priorities of the communities that they serve. And it’s easy if you’re a prosecutor who’s been in office for a very long time to become lost and isolated and become lost in process,” said Soares.