Caccaviello supporters stand on every corner of the busy intersection.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Amanda Hamilton didn't personally know William Catalano but she knew the family.
She said she knows Catalano's father very well and refers to the Catalanos as family friends. Her father, Tim Hamilton, said the two families grew up together. Catalano was recently killed and they want justice.
They believe if Paul Caccaviello wins the district attorney race, justice will come. Caccaviello is currently seeking election as a write-in for district attorney and on Friday the Hamiltons introduced themselves and asked if they could hold a sign during a standout the campaign organized to rally support.
"Paul has the experience to get him the justice he needs whereas Andrea Harrington doesn't have the experience and personal knowledge of it. We just feel like Paul needs everyone's full support to get justice for the Catalano family," Amanda Hamilton said.
Caccaviello currently serves as the district attorney after being appointed to the job when former District Attorney David Capeless retired early to allow him to run as the incumbent. Caccaviello sought the Democratic nomination for the seat but was defeated by Harrington. But Caccaviello isn't going quietly into the night as he's rallied support for a write-in bid.
"After that primary, a lot of folks approached me to consider doing this. It is a family decision to do this and speaking to folks, we decided it is the right thing to do," Caccaviello said. "Since we made the decision those please consider turned to thank you for giving us an opportunity to vote."
The Hamiltons had supported Caccaviello in the primary and after the Catalano incident, they became more active in pushing for Caccaviello.
"People are concerned about what is going on around here. There are murders going on. Are you going to let somebody handle that case that has no experience?" Tim Hamilton said. "There is nothing that replaces experience in my eyes. There is no replacement for experience."
Caccaviello has placed an emphasis on his time in the office, comparing it to Harringtons. He boasts of more than 5,000 cases, convictions vicious criminals, and work in all levels of prosecuting.
"To me, it is a no-brainer. The guy has 30 years in the DA's office, 14 years as the first assistant, he's a good, honorable man. I think the county needs him. We need that strong prosecuting experience," Ward 7 Councilor Anthony Simonelli said.
Bianca Chessa is a hairdresser and she's been talking to her clients all the time about the district attorney's race. On Friday her hands were holding up the other end of the sign Caccaviello was holding at the corner of West Housatonic Street and Center Street.
"I feel like he is trustworthy and I like that he is running as a non-partisan candidate because that is what I think a DA should be," Chessa said.
Chessa said she got particularly active in politics because so few of her fellow millennials do.
Caccaviello says he is happy with the amount of support he's gotten.
"Given the climate of things, it is really important for millennials to actually get out and have our faces seen. I'm trying to represent my demographic. I think young people really need to get out and make our voices heard, be seen in the community," she said.
She also has an addict in her family, so the criminal justice system, victim advocacy, and ensuring people in the justice system are being in the right place to get what they need hit close to home.
Voters head to the polls on Tuesday to make a decision. Friday's standout was the last one for the Caccaviello camp before election day, but it isn't the end of the work.
"We'll continue to work hard all weekend. You can't be complacent in that. We've got to continue to work hard, canvassing, calling, we'll be out and about," Caccaviello said.
Write-in campaigns are seldom successful but Caccaviello's isn't like most of the others. He already had a core group of supporters from his run in the primary and he's worked to expand his reach beyond those who vote in Democratic primaries.
"With this one, it is the enthusiasm and support from all walks of political life — Republicans, Democrats, unenrolled — that we're feeling a lot of and it is a good feeling," Caccaviello said.
For all of those at the standout, the biggest sticking point for them is his history in the office.
"The DA's position is such an important position in the judicial system and you need somebody that's been there, done that, knows what to do. I think there are nine inmates at the county jail awaiting trial for murder ... you need some experience and I just don't think Andrea bring it," Simonelli said. "She's nice. I've met her. I don't think there is anything wrong with her. But I just don't think she is the right fit for this position."
Simonelli believes Caccaviello sometimes get blames for things Capeless did or for crimes he couldn't have prevented. Simonelli says it he gets frustrated when he sees alleged violent criminals get let out on bail, but that's something that would have to change in the Legislature, not the district attorney's office.
"If you have a problem with Capeless, that's Capeless. This is a whole different guy. Just because you don't like something Capeless did, you can't hang it on Paul," Simonelli said.
He said some of the concepts proposed by Harrington are already being done. The former teacher remembers meeting with representatives from the district attorney's office often to discuss youth offenders and outreach programs. He said it is already being done.
As the days tick by, Caccaviello said he is feeling good as the race enters the final stretch.
"We're feeling good. We're feeling really good. The contact with voters and the energy not just in our campaign but when we go and meet people has been through the roof but you never want to take anything for granted," he said.
It is the final week in the district attorney's race and those in Andrea Harrington's camp are as energetic as ever. On Tuesday, the campaign held a rally exactly one week before the general election and the final push to get out the vote unfolds. The event was part fundraiser - donations were accepted but we whatever the supporter wanted to give - part organizing - as campaigner staffers sorted out volunteers for sign holding on election day - and a part rally to energize the supporters.
In the latest surprising turn in the race for district attorney, the second-place finisher in the Democratic primary has now been endorsed by the Republican Party. Paul A. Caccaviello is being supported in his write-in campaign against Andrea Harrington by the Berkshire County Republican Association
Judith Knight isn't going to be the next district attorney. But she hopes Paul Caccaviello will be. Knight, who finished third in the Democratic primary in September, is putting her support behind Caccaviello's write-in campaign. Knight made the announcement on steps of the Berkshire Superior Court on Tuesday.
The bell has been rung to start Round 2. Paul Caccaviello announced on Wednesday that he intends to run a write-in campaign for district attorney. The announcement comes two weeks after he lost the Democratic primary. Caccaviello released a statement confirming his intention to continue to seek the office of district attorney, however, was not available for further comment moments after releasing the statement.
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 in the race, but she was. "I didn't realize how improbable my winning was until I actually won," Harrington said on Thursday.
The lead between the candidates shifted as the votes in the two cities were recorded but narrowed as ballots from the smaller towns came streaming in. Harrington opened up a lead that couldn't be overcome.
Whether those final affirmations by well-known names will swing any late-deciders toward — or away — from a candidate is yet to be seen. Still, the candidates vying for the Democratic nomination for Berkshire district attorney, and essentially the election, have been showcasing the support they racked up.
The buzz after Tuesday's afternoon debate centers on a last-second comment from candidate Judith Knight. "Andrea, you have so little experience that you don't even know what you don't know," Knight said in her closing remarks.
With less than two weeks to go, Mayor Linda Tyer is putting her support behind Andrea Harrington in the race for district attorney. "My endorsement comes with the strong belief that Andrea and I share similar values and we are like-minded. We both believe in creating opportunities for social justice and for thinking differently about entrenched problems," Tyer said.
Andrea Harrington said some 95 percent of criminal cases end with plea deals crafted behind closed doors. When one person gets probation after being caught with pounds of marijuana and guns, while another person is given a two-year mandatory minimum sentence for selling a joint worth of marijuana, it certainly gives people pause. They wonder, is the justice system fair?
Judith Knight says she has "shown you what I am." On Wednesday night, the candidate for district attorney boasted of some 30 years of work in the community. She stood as a defense attorney up for teenagers for whom she believed were inappropriately getting the book thrown at them from former District Attorney David Capeless for selling marijuana.
The aspirants for Berkshire district attorney fielded some two dozen questions and were given only a minute each to respond. There was no debate between the candidates but Caccaviello, the incumbent, and challenger Harrington had a few sharp words.
Back on May 11, the owner of Otto's took to Facebook in criticizing the way the district attorney got the job. David Capeless in March stepped down from the position early after working for months with the governor's office to get Paul Caccaviello appointed to the job. Capeless made no bones about it saying, "I am taking this step now because I want Paul to run for election as the district attorney as I did 14 years ago."
If you want things to change, you need something different. That's Andrea Harrington's view when it comes to reforming the criminal justice system. And now, she wants to be that change. She is seeking election as the next district attorney following the retirement of David Capeless.
For Paul Caccaviello, the district attorney's job is a call to service. After 14 years as the first assistant district attorney, Caccaviello is looking to fill the shoes being left by David Capeless, who retired. With some 30 years as a prosecutor, Caccaviello said he has the most experience and qualifications to take over the office.
Judith Knight isn't a natural politician. She's an attorney. She's a defense attorney who has spent years on the other side of a courtroom from a district attorney's office that operated in a way that she doesn't think is for the best. Back in 2006, her frustration boiled over when she watched the district attorney's office prosecute a teenager over minor drug charges and she launched a campaign to take over the office.
Andrea Harrington says the "status quo" in the district attorney's office is not working for Berkshire County. "It is time to have a district attorney with integrity and who is accountable to this community," Harrington said.
Paul Caccaviello had a domestic homicide case while working in the district attorney's office and he said he brought in behavioral experts to help teach and understand the issues of domestic abuse. He said he's taken steps to create a sub-unit to focus directly on domestic abuse cases and to understand the best ways to become proactive in domestic abuse cases to halt things from getting worse. And that's what he says he'll do if elected as the new district attorney this fall.
The former Democratic candidate for state senator had hinted last week on "The John Krol Show" that she was interested, saying people had reached out to her about running and that she was "taking a really hard look at it."
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Studs Turkel Makes Music, Caroline Rose Switches Genres and More
By Grace LichtensteinGuest Column
A wonderful pops and dance week in the Berkshires is upon us. There is an original musical based on Studs Terkel's amazing oral history "Working," folk and pop acts at the highest level, Mark Morris at the Pillow, and twilight jazz on Edith Wharton's terrace. The pluses outweigh the minuses — the main minus being Patti Lupone's cancellation at the Mahaiwe. (She's still recuperating from hip replacement surgery, according to an announcement.) Lupone promises to reschedule.
Berkshire Theatre Group
"Working: A Musical" is based on Studs Terkel's brilliant collection of interviews chronicling the lives of ordinary Americans. It was first produced in 1977 but has been extensively revised. The updated version from 2012, opening this week at the Berkshire Theatre Group's Unicorn Stage in Stockbridge, features songs by Tony Award-winning composer Lin-Manuel Miranda ("Hamilton," "In the Heights"), as well as by Stephen Schwartz ("Wicked," "Pippin," "Godspell"), Craig Carnelia and the Berkshires' own James Taylor.
The show was adapted by Schwartz and Nina Faso with additional contributions by Gordon Greenberg. The director is James Barry. It begins Thursday, July 18, and runs through Aug. 24. I hate to be alarmist, but smart theatergoers should order tickets ASAP since the first two weekends are almost sold out. Get those tickets and more info online.
Beginning Thursday, July 18, and running through Wednesday, July 24, fellows and faculty of the celebrated New York contemporary music collective Bang on a Can present informal recitals in various Mass MoCA galleries. The music ranges wildly — from solo cello to Latin big band.
In a different vein, singer-songwriter Caroline Rose brings her multi-genre sensibility to Mass MoCA on Saturday night, July 20. She was originally hailed for her folk/country rockabilly sound, but more recently it has been her darker indie pop, synthesizer-laden work that has gained attention. Opening for her is Zenizenn.
Tom Paxton visits Great Barrington on Friday, July 19, and Saturday, July 20, to reprise a career going back to the 1960s, protest sounds and the folky revival. I hope he sings "Ramblin' Boy." I would also love to hear "Talking Vietnam Potluck Blues," for the good old days, just to hear the line "I swear to God that I smell pot." He will have with him the Don Juans, made up of songwriters Don Henry and Jon Vezner.
When two men came whipping into the city with police on their tail in March, residents didn't see Pittsfield Police officers hanging out the window shooting their guns off trying to blow out the tires. That only happens in movies.
In fact, residents didn't see Pittsfield Police on the suspect's... click for more
In other business, the Berkshire Innovation Center is on pace for an October opening. The research and development center broke ground in September and now has a new executive director on board in Ben Sosne.
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Keep it simple.
That's what Edward Carmel believes. But he doesn't believe the current City Council is doing that. He feels the council spins its wheels tinkering with things and not accomplishing anything. click for more
Dina Guiel Lampiasi believes there is room for compromise even if it doesn't seem that way.
Lampiasi is seeking to fill the Ward 6 City Council seat being vacated by John Krol. She feels she brings a collaborative approach and a deep understanding of how government works to the table. click for more
In the 1800s residents really wanted a place to recreate, to hold events and dances, to play sports.
George Burbank answered the call. The developer had built much the city's downtown with homes, a hotel, a theater, and many buildings in the North Street area. He had constructed some 300... click for more