It’s an age-old question in politics: what impact do endorsements have on voters? As a contentious Berkshire District Attorney Democratic primary race heads into its final hours, WAMC has this survey of each candidate’s endorsements.
Pittsfield Attorney Sherwood Guernsey has been involved in Berkshire politics since the 1980s, when he spent almost a decade in the Massachusetts Statehouse. Guernsey tells WAMC that he can only remember one District Attorney race as bitterly fought as the one that’s about to finish on Tuesday.
“The very first one that was run back in the late 70s, when for the first time, the Berkshire District had its own district attorney,” he said.
As the race draws to a close, each candidate is touting his or her own list of who among the Berkshire political scene has endorsed them — with Guernsey’s name among them.
“This is a position where there are decisions literally of life and death," he told WAMC. "And I look at it this way — I have to support Judith Knight because she has the experience and he has the commitment to change, both of which are critical to this job.”
Guernsey is a co-founder of the Berkshire Democratic Brigades, a countywide grassroots organization intent on supporting progressive candidates. He’s joined on Knight’s list by fellow Brigades founder Lee Harrison, as well as fellow elected Mass Dems State Committee members Mary Palmer, of Lee, and Sheila Murray, of West Stockbridge. Knight also has the support of former 1st Berkshire District State Representative and current North Adams SteepleCats President Dan Bosley.
Other Berkshires leaders are going another way.
“On Tuesday, September 4th, I will be voting for Andrea Harrington to be our next District Attorney," said Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer last week. She praised the Great Barrington Attorney as tenacious and capable of building a broad grassroots campaign in the county, characterizing the candidate as having a wider world view than her rivals.
“We both believe in creating opportunities for social justice and for thinking differently about entrenched social problems," said Tyer. "We are likeminded.”
Harrington also boasts endorsements from city councilors in the county’s two largest cities — four from Pittsfield, including council president Peter Marchetti — and two from North Adams. The Massachusetts Nurses Association, the largest union for nurses in the state, is among the groups that have backed her. As far as Pittsfield mayors go, Tyer isn’t the only one on Harrington’s list — she’s joined by James Ruberto, who held the seat from 2004 to 2011.
Ruberto’s successor is on the third candidate’s list.
“When I was mayor, I attended a couple of pretty horrendous homicides in the city of Pittsfield," said Dan Bianchi, who was mayor from 2011 until Tyer ousted him in 2015. He endorsed incumbent DA Paul Caccaviello.
“Paul was there, on the scene," said Bianchi. "He was working with the police, both state and local police officers, directing the investigation, talking to witnesses, talking to neighbors — and you could tell, he was in charge. Knew what he was doing. Incredibly experienced.”
Caccaviello can point to the support of other two other former mayors as well — Richard Alcombright, of North Adams, and Gerald Doyle, of Pittsfield. The DA has Berkshire County Sheriff Thomas Bowler on his side, along with the Pittsfield Police Officers Union and city councilors from Pittsfield and North Adams, including North Adams city council president Keith Bona.
Caccaviello took over the office upon the sudden retirement of David Capeless in March.
Here's the full list of each candidate’s endorsements, as provided by the candidates:
Former Pittsfield Mayor
James M. Ruberto
Former Pittsfield Register of Deeds
Mary K. O’Brien
Former Pittsfield City Council
Pittsfield City Council
Peter Marchetti, President
John Krol, Vice President
Helen Moon, Ward 1
Pete White, At large
North Adams City Council
Michael Lavery, chair, Becket
Stephen Bannon, chair, Great Barrington
Ed Abrahams, vice-chair, Great Barrington
Bill Cooke, Great Barrington
Neal Pilson, chair, Richmond
Anne O’Connor, chair, Williamstown
Ken Fowler, chair, Lenox
Dave Roche, Lenox
Neal Maxymillian, Lenox
Bernie Fallon, chair, West Stockbridge
Brian Tobin, chair, Acting Chief of Police, Mt. Washington
James Huebner, chair, Washington
Stephanie Boyd, planning board
*co-founders of Greylock Together, individually not as an organization
Massachusetts Nurses Association
Justice for Massachusetts
Progressive Democrats of Massachusetts
Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus
The IBPO Local 447 (Pittsfield Police Officers Union)
The IBPO Local 447S (Pittsfield Police Superior Officers Union)
Former Mayor Richard Alcombright, North Adams
Former Mayor Gerald Doyle, Pittsfield
Former Mayor Daniel Bianchi, Pittsfield
Sheriff Thomas Bowler
Pittsfield City Councillor Melissa Mazzeo
Pittsfield City Councillor Kevin Morandi
Pittsfield City Councillor Anthony Simonelli
Francis Marinaro, Jr., Register, Berkshire Probate Court
North Adams City Councillor, Council President Keith Bona
North Adams City Councillor Rebecca Cohen
Ann Deeley, Attorney
Nick Geranios, Real Estate Salesman
James Sisto, Attorney
Mass Dems Committee Members Sherwood Guernsey, Lee Harrison, Mary Palmer and Sheila Murray
Former State Representative Dan Bosley