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Harrington celebrating on election night.

Harrington Reflects On DA Race, Looks Toward Transition Into Office

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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City Council Vice President John Krol was particularly excited with the Williamstown numbers when they came in.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — When Andrea Harrington entered the district attorney's race, she knew she could do it. She fully expected to win the race.
 
She didn't think she was an underdog, but she was. 
 
"I didn't realize how improbable my winning was until I actually won," Harrington said on Thursday.
 
Harrington entered the race in March after former District Attorney David Capeless had maneuvered to place Paul Caccaviello into the office. Caccaviello had strong support from the local business community and many well-established politicos. He already had a stronghold in the county's biggest population center. He was an incumbent with a head start and in line to continue a long history of first assistants taking over the office.
 
Judith Knight entered the race and quickly had the support of many of the more progressive voters in the county, the same progressives that would likely have been backing Harrington. 
 
And Harrington won. 
 
"When I jumped into this race, I felt like I was going to win. I always knew they were underestimating me," Harrington said.
 
It wasn't a runaway though. The difference in votes can be counted in the hundreds. And she did lose in Pittsfield, the grand prize. 
 
"It is all about the ground game," Harrington said.
 
Dina Guiel and City Councilor Helen Moon took lead roles in handling that. In Williamstown, the progressive group Greylock Together pushed hard for Harrington. Her campaign team put in late nights and gave up summer vacations and weekends. They knocked on doors. They made phone calls. They spread the message of reform and change in the criminal justice system at every turn.
 
State Rep. John Barrett III, whom she had helped in his race last year, and City Councilors Marie T. Harpin and Jason LaForest pushed in North Adams. In Pittsfield, she gained support from Mayor Linda Tyer, City Council President Peter Marchetti and Vice President John Krol.
 
The race was nasty. It was almost night and day compared to the very positive campaign for state Senate she was part of two years ago. She said she stopped paying attention to the attacks and stopped reading about her opponents.
 
"Both of my opponents' campaigns were attacking me relentlessly from the very beginning. That, to me, was a signal that they regarded me as a threat and a frontrunner," Harrington said. "I just put my head down and ran my race."
 
She tried to stay positive and knew it was hard on her family and encouraged them to do the same. The six-month campaign came to a conclusion on Tuesday. 
 
"Those two hours before the polls close is when I started to feel the pressure. At that point, I did everything I could," Harrington said.
 
Reports were coming in about a much higher voter turnout than was expected. A little feeling of anxiousness crept into Harrington as she worried that maybe she hadn't talked to enough voters.
 
Polls closed at 8 and soon the Pittsfield numbers were in. She was down about 600 votes.
 
"I was pleased with the Pittsfield results. I knew I didn't have to win, I just had to hold my own there," Harrington said.
 
That's when Greylock Together's work in Williamstown made a dramatic appearance. She clobbered her opponents there and picked up almost exactly what she had been behind in Pittsfield. 
 
"Even I was shocked by how many votes I got from Williamstown," Harrington said.
 

Harrington and her family after proclaiming victory Tuesday night.
At Flavours of Malaysia in downtown Pittsfield, where she was holding her campaign party, the Williamstown numbers led to boisterous cheers.
 
"Thank you, Williamstown!" someone yelled.
 
North Adams numbers had come in, and the ground game there paid off, too.
 
"I knew I was going to make up a lot of votes in North County," Harrington said, adding that the campaign focused a good amount of time on that area of the county. 
 
At about 11 p.m., her phone rang. She had a lead that wasn't going to be overcome. Caccaviello was on the phone, conceding the primary election to Harrington. 
 
Sure, the Richmond defense attorney did have support from some influential political leaders in the county herself and she did have name recognition from her last run. But, it was still an upset, a bitter and a close race, and one that had more interest and passion that the Berkshires haven't seen much of in primaries.  
 
"I made promises to the people who voted for me. It is time for me to fulfill those promises," Harrington said. 
 
With no Republican on the ballot -- and barring a last-minute write-in campaign -- the winner of the Democratic primary is essentially the next district attorney.
 
When Harrington takes over in January, she will become the county's first woman district attorney -- an honor she doesn't take lightly as she heard stories of little girls from the area looking up to her as a role model.
 
"I think it is amazing. I love it," Harrington said. "What more could I ask for?"
 
She'll be in touch with Caccaviello soon to start working on a transition plan. With any change in leadership, there is an expected movement with staff and she'll be putting together her team.
 
"My first order of business would be to put in a place a team that will be ready to start in January," Harrington said.
 
Harrington has cast herself as a reformer, someone to usher out the "old guard" and bring in change. While the whirlwind of the election has now ended, work on the real reason she entered the race is just starting.
 
"I didn't run to win this election. I ran this race to transform the community," she said.

Tags: district attorney,   election 2018,   harrington,   

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Letter: Problematic Proposed Lenox Short-Term Rental Bylaw

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

Under the proposed short-term rental Lenox bylaw, "up to two bedrooms in a dwelling unit may be rented year-round by right provided that the owner or tenant is occupying the dwelling unit at the time of the rental."

Presumably, bedrooms may not be rented at all if the owner or tenant is not occupying the dwelling unit.

In other words, literally, the very same use is allowed by one type of owner (an owner occupying the dwelling unit), but not another type of owner (one who does not occupy the dwelling unit where bedrooms are being rented). Because there is identical use and intensity and the only thing that differs is the type of owner or renter; it is hard to view this as mere regulation of use and not ownership.

The other provision suffers from the same problem. Suppose there is a duplex or land with two houses on it (perhaps an old robber-baron estate) but with separate owners for each dwelling unit. Under the rule regarding "dwelling units being rented in their entirety," "an entire dwelling unit maybe rented up to 75 days per calendar year by right," and "an entire dwelling unit may be rented for an additional 35 days (up to 110 days) per calendar year by Special Permit."

But then suppose there is unity of ownership and one person owns the entire duplex or both houses. In that case, "the above totals apply to the entire parcel" and "the day limits defined above shall be apportioned among those dwelling units."

A town can regulate the number of days a short-term rental may be utilized under the newly passed statute: but this additional restriction based on who owns the premises is a regulation of ownership and not use.

The same is instinct through other parts as well. Of course, Lenox residents or their guest can park in the street. But if you are renting a short-term rental, "All overnight parking must be within the property's driveway or garage." If you own or rent property, so long as you get the right permits, you may entertain on your property. But if you are a short-term renter, "events that include tents or amplified music or which would customarily require a license or permit are not allowed."

Since 1905, when Home Rules was put into the [Massachusetts] Constitution, towns could pass their own bylaws, so long as there was no regulation of a civil relationship unless it was an incident to a legitimate municipal power. This meant, among other things, zoning laws had to regulate use and not ownership. It is now a fundamental principle of Massachusetts zoning that it deals basically with the use, without regard to the ownership of the property involved, or who may be the operator of the use. This bylaw appears to violate this fundamental tenet.

By way of example of the you-may-regulate-use-but-not-ownership rule, it has been held that a city did not have authority under the Massachusetts Constitution to pass an ordinance that affected the civil relationship between tenants and their landlord, who wished to convert their rental units to condominiums. In another case, a municipal ordinance which restricted a landlord's ability to terminate a lease and remove his property from the rental market in order to sell it was invalid.

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