Historic district attorney win celebrated

New Year’s Day swearing-In ceremony kicks off 2019 with party

Tue, 01/01/2019 - 8:15pm

    ROCKPORT — Three officials swore vows to serve and uphold the Constitution as associated with their new positions, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019, as decreed by Honorable Elizabeth (Libby) Mitchell.

    Acknowledgement sounded for appointed Lincoln County Sheriff, Todd Brackett, Assistant District Attorney Christopher Fernald, and District Attorney Natasha Irving at the Samoset Resort in Rockport.

    The party at the ceremony, however, celebrated Irving’s historic election win.

    In becoming the attorney to Prosecutorial District 6 (Waldo, Knox, Lincoln, and Sagadahoc counties) Irving became the first female in this District role, the first Democrat to take the position, the first newcomer since 1972 to unseat a sitting district attorney, and the fourth female D.A. in all of Maine, according to her campaign manager, Melissa Steery.

    Yet the celebratory party expected immediately after November 6 was postponed.

    “We sat up until 3:30 in the morning counting votes,” Steery said. “So we were not able to do a ‘yay, we won’ party. But, today, we get to share that ‘yay, we won’ party.”

    Before affirming the newly elected, Mitchell told the audience of how, during the drive to Rockport, she wondered why the ceremony was scheduled for a holiday.

    “Gosh, it’s New Year’s Day. What are they thinking?” she said. “And I know what they are thinking. They’re thinking ‘what an extraordinary way to start 2019.’”

    In her thank-you speech, Irving referred to Civil Rights Activist and Historian Howard Zinn, who taught his students that history was like a moving train.

    You can’t ride that train, and then ask how you got where you were going. You can’t ask how you reached your destination. You are either onboard, or you are not onboard. You can’t be neutral on a moving train.

    “As district attorney, I cannot be neutral in the face of mass incarceration,” Irving said. “I cannot be neutral in the face of prosecution of the sick for being sick, the poor, for being poor. I cannot be neutral against the culture of sexual violence that we’ve learned more and more about through the weeks and months since the Me Too Movement.

    “We have to take a stand. And today is the day that we take action,” she said. “I am honored. I am truly humbled, and I am ready to use these four years to bring about a new era in criminal justice.”

    Irving thanked her family, which includes a young child, the people in the counties who volunteered with the Democratic Party, the county committees for their support, representatives of state government who attended the ceremony, and staff and volunteers dedicated to her campaign.

    “It was a long, hard campaign,” Steery said. “This woman put in 80 hours a week to make this happen.”

    “Thank you all for riding this train with me,” Irving said. “It’s because of the voters. It’s because of the passion of all people here in Maine, in the Midcoast, in the United States, that we are going to have a better future.”

    Reach Sarah Thompson at news@penbaypilot.com