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DA Harrington questions Shugrue's stance on cooperating with ICE; DA and sheriff's candidates to meet in upcoming debates

Editor’s note: The Berkshire Eagle will bring readers updates on candidates and campaigns ahead of the Sept. 6 primary elections.

Berkshire District Attorney

Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington is challenging DA candidate Timothy Shugrue’s statements on the potential of collaboration between the office under his leadership and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), following a mid-week candidate forum that featured both attorneys.

During the forum, co-hosted by the NAACP, the ACLU and local branch of the League of Women Voters, candidates were asked about whether the office would communicate with ICE if they encountered someone with an administrative warrant from the federal agency.

Shugrue said that he would not create blanket policies and would treat each case individually.

“It depends on the severity of the particular crime,” Shugrue said. “If someone is charged with a minor drug offense and ICE wants to come and take them, then I don't think it's appropriate for us to do that.”

Shugrue said that if the person is “a very serious violent felon and a conviction can happen” that he felt he would have “an obligation” to notify the agency.

During a roughly hour and a half forum, the candidates for Berkshire District Attorney — incumbent Andrea Harrington and defense attorney Timothy Shugrue — gave an audience of over 200 people a display of how they differ on issues like substance use, pretrial holds, and the overall quality of public safety in Berkshire County.

Harrington issued a statement late this week calling Shugrue’s response “disturbing,” and called on him to change his thinking on the matter.

Wading into federal immigration policy, Harrington said, is “not the job of the District Attorney and sets a dangerous precedent that erodes trust of our immigrant communities and makes it less likely victims will report other crimes like domestic violence.”

“Berkshire County embraces the diversity of our immigrant communities, and it's unfortunate that my opponent supports prosecution methods that hurt these communities," she added.

Berkshire County Sheriff

Sheriff Thomas Bowler and challenger Alfred E. "Alf" Barbalunga will sit down with local blogger and personality Dan Valenti in-person on Monday for a recorded debate. Barbalunga released details of the event in a recent news release.

Valenti said Friday on his blog Planet Valenti that the debate will be a closed-door event, with an unedited version of the recording to be released later in the evening via social media.

The candidates are also set to meet in-person at a debate event the following week, co-hosted by PCTV and iBerkshires. Bowler and Barbalunga will participate in the moderated discussion in the auditorium of the Berkshire Athenaeum. The event start at 6 p.m. on August 15 and will be simulcast on PCTV CityLink Channel 1303 in Pittsfield, the PCTV Select app on Roku and Apple TV, and on the broadcaster’s Facebook page.

The event is set to last 90 minutes, at which point PCTV and iBerkshires will begin a live moderated debate between the DA candidates, Harrington and Shugrue.

Meg Britton-Mehlisch can be reached at mbritton@berkshireeagle.com or 413-496-6149.

Pittsfield Reporter

Meg Britton-Mehlisch is the Pittsfield reporter for The Berkshire Eagle. Born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, she previously worked at the Prior Lake American and its sister publications under the Southwest News Media umbrella in Savage, Minnesota.

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