Our Opinion: Caccaviello for DA
The race for Berkshire district attorney has been anything but a sleeper. What began as a three-way primary for the Democratic nomination, and, the Berkshires assumed, the de facto election, resulted in a win by challenger Andrea Harrington over incumbent Paul Caccaviello and challenger Judith Knight. Weeks later, Mr. Caccaviello announced that he would initiate a write-in candidacy against Ms. Harrington in the Nov. 6 general election.
Before the primary, The Eagle gave its support to Mr. Caccaviello as the experienced prosecutor, capable of managing the complexities of the office of district attorney.
The editorial board sees no reason to rescind or alter that endorsement in advance of Tuesday's election, and continues to hold the opinion that Ms. Harrington, while a popular and engaging figure as well as an unquestionably effective campaigner, does not possess the necessary and nuanced skill set to be an effective district attorney, which Mr. Caccaviello does.
Mr. Caccaviello's candidacy was harmed early on by a misguided attempt on the part of his predecessor and former boss, David Capeless, to give his deputy's candidacy a boost by retiring early and arranging with Gov. Charlie Baker to have Mr. Caccaviello appointed as his successor. This cloud has hovered over Mr. Caccaviello throughout the race. But considering his qualifications, it would be a mistake to think of these actions on the part of another as disqualifying.
Ms. Harrington has portrayed herself as the candidate of change, espousing drug diversion programs and working with mental health professionals to help addicts as well as seeking a broad solution to the opioid epidemic in the Berkshires. In fact, much of this has already been implemented by the DA's office. Her proposal to review unindicted sexual assault cases over the past 15 years is a political stunt, implying without evidence that the DA's office has been thoroughly derelict in its duties, and failing to consider whether the alleged victims in these cases want to be put through this experience.
Amid the negative campaign rhetoric about the character of the DA's office coming from his opponent, voters should remember that Mr. Caccaviello, while having served for decades as a prosecutor — 14 years of which were in the critical position of first assistant — is not Mr. Capeless, and his personality and temperament are his own.
Ms. Harrington has attempted to gloss over her abject lack of experience for such a specialized position of public trust. Moreover, were she to win, she would have to learn the ropes from scratch as well as gain the trust, confidence and respect of the assistant DAs who work in the legal trenches. This would take place with several homicide cases outstanding. Mr. Caccaviello already has that experience, as well as that trust among his subordinates, and if victorious would seamlessly continue in office armed with a fresh mandate to embrace change in his own way.
With the Berkshires ravaged by violent and property crimes exacerbated by the opioid crisis, this is no time for on-the-job training. The Eagle maintains and reiterates its original endorsement of Paul Caccaviello for Berkshire District Attorney, and encourages voters to write in his name on Tuesday's ballot.
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