BARNSTABLE — After almost 20 years in office, Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe will step down when his current term ends in January 2023, and, so far, two candidates have announced their campaigns: Republican John Carey and Democrat Robert Galibois.
Both are defense lawyers currently working in private practice. Carey, who lives in Sandwich and has his law offices in Charlestown and Hingham, served in the military for 30 years. Galibois lives in Norwell and has been an assistant D.A. under both O’Keefe and his predecessor, Philip Rollins.
In an interview on Sunday, Galibois argued that his experience uniquely qualifies him.
“I’ve stood before a jury in all the district courts on the Cape and Islands,” he said. Based on what he’s seen, Galibois regards the opioid crisis as the most pressing legal challenge to Cape and Islands communities.
He views mental health treatment as integral to mitigating the crisis. In a press release, he said his office would “prioritize expansion of access to community-based support.” With the help of state officials, he also hopes to establish a mental health court session. Galibois explained his vision would include a “probation officer trained in working with mental health clients.”
Galibois also said he would be open to diverting criminal charges for misdemeanor offenses for those who showed real progress in their recovery. “I’m not looking to ruin people’s lives for criminal activity when it’s born out of addiction or mental health issues,” he said.
“If a defendant demonstrates progress,” Galibois argued, “why would we want to break that cycle?”
For crimes involving firearms or violence, however, Galibois said he would seek pretrial detention without the possibility of bail.
When Galibois was asked about O’Keefe’s unwillingness to acknowledge the results of the 2020 election, first reported in January 2021 by the Cape Cod Times, he expressed surprise, implying that he was unaware of Republican O’Keefe’s stance.
“That’s disappointing,” Galibois said. He was silent for a moment before adding, “O’Keefe was a highly skilled trial lawyer.
“Party affiliation should have nothing to do with prosecution,” Galibois said, noting the 62 lawsuits brought by Republicans that have upheld Biden’s 2020 election victory.
Galibois also said that on “day one” he would hire a community engagement officer. “I expect to spend a lot of time in the communities,” he said. Galibois lived in Bourne for 18 years and says he will return to “his roots” on the Cape on Feb. 1. He joked that he prefers the less windy portions of the Cape during the winter, but, he concluded, “I’m not going to hunker down in my office.”
In an interview Monday, Carey also spoke of community engagement.
After graduating from the Mass. Maritime Academy, Carey served in the Navy, ultimately as a captain. He believes his 30 years of active and reserve duty provide the leadership skills required of a district attorney.
“Any strong prosecutor could handle the litigation,” he commented, “but the office needs someone who also possesses sound leadership.”
Carey supports establishing a veterans court session. Six such courts already exist in other districts in Massachusetts.
Like Galibois, Carey expressed concern about the opioid crisis. Leveraging his military experience as evidence, Carey argued that closing the entryways for drugs into Massachusetts will be necessary to stop abuse.
“I don’t think there’s a family in Massachusetts that hasn’t been touched by the opioid crisis,” he added.
When weighing treatment for addiction against prosecution of misdemeanor offenses, Carey said he would examine the probation reports of the person to determine the necessity of pretrial detention.
“Anybody can be redeemed,” he said.
Ultimately, Carey said he is running to continue O’Keefe’s legacy.
“He left big shoes to fill, and I would hope to continue his work with a smooth transition,” he said.
When he was asked about O’Keefe’s claims about fraud in the 2020 election, Carey would not comment, but added, “I won’t dispute what the press reports.”
Carey said he wants to be a D.A. for people of all party affiliations. Then he shifted to his core mantra of safety.
“I see the role of district attorney as critically important in enforcing our laws,” he said in a press release Monday.
Voters will head to the polls on Nov. 8 to decide which vision of safety, justice, and support they prefer.