Votes are in: Berkshire County participation in midterms reaches 59%

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Fueled by a hotly contested district attorney race and localized contests in North and South Berkshire, turnout for Tuesday's midterm election approached near-2016 levels in Berkshire County.

With all 32 cities and towns having reported Wednesday, 53,484 of the 89,815 registered voters countywide — 59 percent — participated in Tuesday's election, an unprecedented local turnout halfway between presidential elections, area elections officials said Wednesday.

Two years ago, about 64,500 of the Berkshires' 90,723 registered voters, or 71 percent, went to the polls as Republican Donald Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton for president.

"I've been a town clerk for 15 years, and this is the highest midterm I've had," Sheffield Town Clerk Felecie Joyce told The Eagle. "We thought we would get close to the [2016] presidential election."

Sheffield's voter turnout of 71 percent matched the countywide figure from the 2016 election.

Pittsfield's voter turnout of 59 percent — 16,814 out of 28,592 registered voters — surpassed City Clerk Michele Benjamin's prediction of 50 percent.

Benjamin and her elections staff spent Wednesday verifying that current Berkshire District Attorney Paul Caccaviello received 7,298 votes, including overseas ballots that weren't counted Tuesday. Winner Andrea Harrington's Pittsfield total also changed, to 8,399.

Harrington has less than two months to implement a transition plan to succeed Caccaviello; neither she nor anyone with her campaign returned The Eagle's request for comment on a plan.

Losing aside, Caccaviello launched a valiant effort to win a countywide write-in campaign, according to Benjamin.

"It's hard enough to win a [City Council] ward race as a write-in," she said.

Caccaviello began his uphill battle to keep his job by announcing a write-in campaign two weeks after losing to Harrington by 700 votes in the Sept. 4 Democratic primary. Harrington was the only name on Tuesday's ballot for district attorney, as no other candidate emerged during the general election campaign season.

On Tuesday, Harrington garnered 29,533 votes countywide, beating Caccaviello by 11,697, assuming that all 17,836 write-ins cast in the 32 municipalities were for the runner-up.

Harrington won every community except Dalton, Caccaviello's hometown, which he barely won, 1,392 to 1,314.

The race for a six-year term as the Northern Berkshire Register of Deeds also was a runaway. Democrat Maria Ziemba handily defeated Deborah Moran, who had no party affiliation, 10,572 to 3,471, based on Wednesday's tally. Ziemba succeeds retiring Register Frances T. Brooks.

Ziemba, who previously served as the office's head clerk, promised during her campaign to continue her work to digitize property records while improving its community outreach and accessibility to the public.

At the other end of the county, a mix of incumbents and newcomers won five seats on the Southern Berkshire Regional School Committee. The 10-member board represents Alford, Egremont, Monterey, New Marlborough and Sheffield.

Incumbents Chairwoman E. Bonnie Silvers and H. Dennis Sears were re-elected to represent Sheffield, winning a four-way race for two seats. Silvers and Sears garnered 1,623 and 1,568 votes, respectively, with Jonathan Bruno at 1,093 and Timothy Schroepfer receiving 872 votes.

Kenneth Knox won another four-year term representing Egremont, defeating Genis Melendez-Delaney, 336 to 89.

The two new faces on the committee include Jeff Blaugrund from Alford, who unseated incumbent Carl Stewart by a count of 349 to 166. Jane Burke ran unopposed for a New Marlborough seat. The Monterey representative wasn't up for election this year.

One vacancy remains, created by the death of Robert Law in April. The school committee appointed Schroepfer to replace Law until the election, but he opted to run for one of the four-year terms.

According to the school district's charter, after the election, the committee must make a new appointment for the final two years of Law's term. The committee will conduct candidate interviews and appoint a Sheffield resident from among interested applicants.

Eagle reporters Kristin Palpini and Adam Shanks contributed to this story.

Dick Lindsay can be reached at rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com and 413-496-6233.




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