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Democratic candidates at Goshen forum

  • Candidate for the 8th District Governor’s Council seat Mary E. Hurley speaks at a forum Wednesday in Goshen. CHRIS LINDAHL

  • Candidate for the 8th District Governor’s Council seat Jeffrey S. Morneau speaks at a forum Wednesday in Goshen. CHRIS LINDAHL

  • Candidate for Hampshire County sheriff Patrick J. Cahillane speaks at a forum Wednesday in Goshen. CHRIS LINDAHL

  • Candidate for Hampshire County sheriff Kavern Lewis speaks at a forum Wednesday in Goshen. CHRIS LINDAHL

  • Candidate for the Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden state Senate seat Andrea Harrington speaks at a forum Wednesday in Goshen. CHRIS LINDAHL

  • Candidate for the Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden state Senate seat Adam Hinds speaks at a forum Wednesday in Goshen. CHRIS LINDAHL



@cmlindahl
Thursday, May 12, 2016

GOSHEN — Democratic candidates for Hampshire County sheriff, the 8th District Governor’s Council state and the most expansive state Senate seat in western Massachusetts spoke to voters during a forum Wednesday night in Goshen.

The candidates, Patrick J. Cahillane and Kavern Lewis for sheriff; Mary E. Hurley and Jeffrey S. Morneau for the Governor’s Council; and Andrea Harrington and Adam Hinds for the Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden Senate seat will be on the Sept. 8 primary election ballot. 

The winner in each of those races will go on to the Nov. 8 general election.

The question-and-answer session was hosted by the Hilltown Democratic Coalition at the Goshen Congregational Church.

Hampshire County sheriff

Cahillane, of Leeds, said that his three decades in the sheriff’s department, including 14 years as retiring Sheriff Robert J. Garvey’s second-in-command, make him the most qualified candidate for the job. “I’ve dedicated my career to this community,” he said.

Lewis, of Amherst, said as a gay black man, he will bring diversity to the leadership of the Hampshire County Jail and House of Correction and expand the role of the sheriff’s department in community law enforcement.

“This Hampshire County sheriff post is not just about the jail – it’s about giving back to the community,” Lewis said.

He admitted that he has no administrative experience in corrections. But he said he worked for two years in Vermont and last year worked in New Hampshire as a corrections officer. He said he also owns his own security company and works as a substitute teacher in the Amherst-Pelham Regional School District.

Lewis said his fresh eyes would allow him to take a look at all of the department’s programs and operations to determine what works and what does not.

He also said he would start outreach programs to local schools and seek to expand the law enforcement role of the department.

But Cahillane said that the department is already involved in many aspects of law enforcement and has a cooperative information-sharing relationship with other agencies. It has officers on the regional drug and gang task forces, works closely with the Northwestern district attorney’s office and deploys deputies into the community at the request of police departments.

In Hampshire County, there is one police department for each of its 20 communities, departments at each of the Five Colleges and two State Police barracks.

“That is an awful lot of law enforcement that’s doing a good job every day for the 160,000 residents of Hampshire County,” Cahillane said. “Every agency has different responsibilities that are dictated to them.”

Both men spoke of the importance of rehabilitation of criminal offenders. Lewis said he has firsthand experience with the failures of the criminal justice system in appropriately dealing with people addicted to drugs, a problem his brother struggles with.

“Putting them in jail is not going to do anything,” he said.

Cahillane said he is seeking permanent funding for the Bridge to the Future housing program, which places inmates in a residential home outside the jail.

He said the department has been working over the last five years to expand its program offering electronic monitoring of offenders who are released into the community.

Other programs Cahillane said he is considering include one that would have inmates farm land near the jail.

Governor’s Council

Both candidates for the Governor’s Council seat that encompasses nearly all communities in the four western Massachusetts counties said their experience as jurists make them the best candidates for the job.

The governor seeks the advice and consent of the council regarding the nomination of judges and issuance of pardons.

Hurley served as a city councilor in Springfield before being elected to two terms as the city’s mayor beginning in 1989. She later served for nearly two decades as a district court judge in Chicopee before retiring in 2014.

She initially announced last fall that she was running against the incumbent councilor, Michael J. Albano. But Albano is not seeking reelection, because he is running for Hampden County sheriff.

She criticized Albano’s stance on granting a pardon to actor Mark Wahlberg. She said Albano was in favor of pardoning the Dorchester-born Wahlberg’s assault and battery and drug possession conviction. “There’ll be a cold day in hell before I vote on something like that,” she said. 

Morneau, of East Longmeadow, is president of the Hampden County Bar Association. He said he has worked in local courts across the state, in federal appeals court, the state Supreme Judicial Court and the U.S. bankruptcy court.

Morneau called for an end to cronyism in the appointment of judges.

Hurley said the review process is extensive – she recalled filling out a 45-page application and being subjected to a through State Police investigation before being appointed.

Hurley said that her experience in the courts would give her inside access to get details on candidates that do not appear on their application. “I can pick up the phone and call a judge or a clerk in any part of the state … and I can get the scoop on these candidates,” she said.

Morneau said in choosing candidates for judgeships, he would look for people who understand they can enact change from the bench, especially when it comes to dealing with those affected by opioid addiction.

He said that he already has pushed for more local involvement in the selection process of judges by leading efforts to bring unofficial appointment hearings to Hampden County. The official hearings occur in Boston.

Hurley said she would make it a priority to push for vacant western Massachusetts judgeships to be filled. 

And Morneau stressed the importance of carefully reviewing candidates for the Supreme Judicial Court, to which Gov. Charlie Baker is expected to make five appointments.

A story about the state Senate candidates will be published later this week.

Chris Lindahl can be reached at clindahl@gazettenet.com.