PITTSFIELD — Hundreds of people crammed into the Berkshire Museum on Wednesday morning to witness the swearing in of Andrea Harrington as Berkshire County's first female district attorney.
"I ask you to imagine a Berkshire County that is free of sexual- and gender-based violence, free of gun violence; a county where we don't feel that our children will fall prey to addiction; where people of all colors and all genders and ages and sexual orientations feel safe and protected," Harrington said during remarks shortly after taking the oath of office. "I can imagine it and I ask that the people in this room work shoulder to shoulder with me to achieve it because nobody else is going to do it for us."
Harrington's husband, Tim Walsh, and two sons, Francis and Ennis, sat beside her on the stage during the ceremony in the museum's theater.
The Richmond attorney beat out longtime prosecutor Paul Caccaviello, who was appointed district attorney in March upon the retirement of District Attorney David Capeless.
Despite a heated, at times contentious, election season, Harrington thanked Caccaviello and Capeless, who were both seated in the audience, for their service as prosecutors. The theme of the event, overseen by Helen Moon, was "Unity."
"He's been the standard for aspiring prosecutors," Harrington said of Caccaviello. "With Paul, one can not help make a friend out of an opponent. I am truly grateful to him for his kindness and his support during the transition."
Harrington, 43, announced her intentions to run for the office only a week after Capeless retired, and took 39.5 percent of the votes in the three-way Democratic primary in September, beating out Caccaviello by 692 votes and attorney Judith Knight by 3,166.
Caccaviello, who said he was urged by his supporters, launched a write-in campaign for the general election, but Harrington was victorious there, as well. While 34 percent of voters wrote in Caccaviello's name, 62.7 percent, or 31,374 voters, supported Harrington.
Walsh introduced his wife to the crowd on Wednesday, noting the importance of the moment to his family.
"As today unfolds and our two young boys, Frankie and Ennis, are witnessing history being made, I'm not sure the gravity of this moment is upon them. However, I know in the future it will be a moment of great pride and a moment they will always cherish," he said. "I can tell you that Andrea did not set out to make history, but rather to make a difference."
Walsh also offered a few tips for those looking to "break the ice" with their new district attorney.
"No 1, Andrea knows nothing about sports. Never play her in jeopardy, you will lose. Never ever ask her for directions," he said. "Yet she did pass the Florida Bar and also pass the New York Bar and Massachusetts Bar in three consecutive days, which I am so proud of; And I might add, she had an 8-month-old in tow."
First Assistant District Attorney Karen Bell, one of seven new prosecutors who have joined the office so far, also took her oath Wednesday. Bell has been a Hampden County prosecutor for two decades and will oversee the Superior Court cases. Her two sons, Jack and Matthew, were also on stage.
At the District Attorney's Office, work has already begun to prepare for Harrington's tenure.
Bell began working on Dec. 10 preparing the January trial schedule and getting a handle on Superior Court business. Harrington said the first few weeks will be dedicated to team-building and getting new staff acquainted with their jobs.
Five assistant district attorneys have left the office upon Harrington's arrival. Joseph Pieropan, Caccaviello's second assistant district attorney, is expected to retire after a transition period at the office, Harrington said Friday.
There have been no changes to administrative staff, she said. Some ADA positions will remain open so the office can focus on recruiting with a focus on diversity.
Harrington has said one of her first priorities will be to formalize the county's juvenile diversion program, a requirement of the state's criminal justice reform law.
Caccaviello, who had worked in the Berkshire District Attorney's office for 30 years, and has spent the last few months focused on the transition, said he's now pivoting his attention toward his own future.
"My concentration will be to stay in public service," he said.