Our Opinion: Critical transition period for new DA

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The people have spoken: Berkshire County has a new district attorney. After a race characterized by unprecedented acrimony from opposing camps, District Attorney-elect Andrea Harrington is to be congratulated for running a successful campaign. Her victory represents a desire by the voters to embrace a more progressive and rehabilitative philosophy toward law enforcement than was demonstrated, in their view, by DA Paul Caccaviello and his predecessor, David Capeless.

While the effort put forth to win a three-way primary and then to fend off a write-in challenge from an incumbent in the general election may have been daunting enough for Ms. Harrington and her supporters, it is now that the real work begins for a candidate whose lacks prosecutorial and litigating experience. She will have to get an effective criminal justice bureaucracy up and running quickly.

Her choice for first assistant carries outsize importance, for it is that person who will be in charge of implementing her stated policies as the law is applied to criminals. Additionally, she will need to gain the respect of her office's attorneys and support staff, for it is upon their efforts in the trenches that her reputation will ultimately rest, and whose performance will determine the validity of her philosophy. We hope they will in turn give her a fair chance.

During the course of her campaign, Ms. Harrington contrasted her own style with that of the Capeless-Caccaviello era by asserting that her tenure in office would be marked by a new transparency and openness to receiving input from the citizenry. Consequently, it was not an encouraging sign that she snubbed an Eagle reporter attending her victory celebration.

It is The Eagle's hope that her intransigence was merely a product of the heat of the moment rather than a harbinger of future relations between the DA's office and those who would seek to reveal its workings to the public it serves.

In the meantime, it is time for Berkshire voters on both sides to come together in support of their new DA, for her successes will be the county's successes. We look forward to Ms. Harrington's announcements regarding staff appointments and trust they will provide greater clarity as to how she intends to achieve those successes.




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