Berkshire District Attorney Primary Race Draws Three Democrats

Aug 31, 2018

The lone primary race in western Massachusetts for district attorney is taking place in Berkshire County. Three Democrats are vying to replace David Capeless, who abruptly retired in March.

A longtime Capeless assistant, who was appointed to the job this year, is running against two others who says the county needs something other than the status quo.

Capeless said he retired early to give Paul Caccaviello the chance to run as the incumbent district attorney.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker appointed Caccaviello at the urging of the retired DA. He's is a career prosecutor who has been working in the office for almost 30 years. And during a debate taped by Community Television for the Southern Berkshires, he touted his background.

"I come to you with the experience of being out on the street at two in the morning, sitting with the families of victims, going to the autopsy, preparing witnesses for cases, and then having month-long trials," Caccaviello told the audience.

But both of his opponents, Andrea Harrington and Judith Knight, say the office needs an overhaul.

Harrington is no stranger to voters. She ran unsuccessfully for state Senate two years ago.

An attorney from Richmond, Harrington said the DA's office works with a "pit bull prosecutor mentality." She said that given problems with opioids and other violent crimes, that approach isn't working.

"We need to have somebody who has good judgement and good values and can distinguish between people who are dangerous and belong in jail, and people that need help," Harrington said.

And this isn't Knight's first time on a ballot, either: She ran against Capeless a dozen years ago, and the attorney from Lee says change was needed then, and it's still needed now.

"We need to bring the district attorney's office into the 21st century, to use the approaches that are working so well in other areas," Knight said. "I know what those are, because I've been in the courts doing this work for 30 years."

All three candidates during the debate expressed support for the new criminal justice law passed this year.

As for campaign fundraising, the latest filings show Harrington has raised more than $60,000 -- that's $13,000 more than Caccaviello, and almost triple Knight's total.

And with no declared Republicans or independents, the winner of the Democratic primary will likely become Berkshire County's top prosecutor.

Take a look at NEPR's Massachusetts Primary Voter Guide 2018.