Shapiro: First job is restor­ing in­tegrity

Newly elected Pa. AG also vows to bat­tle the state’s ‘dev­as­tat­ing’ heroin epi­demic

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Carl Hessler Jr. chessler@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Mont­coCourtNews on Twit­ter

NORRISTOWN >> Penn­syl­va­nia At­tor­ney Gen­eral­elect Josh Shapiro vowed to bat­tle the state’s “dev­as­tat­ing” heroin epi­demic and to work at “restor­ing in­tegrity” to the of­fice when he takes the reins in Jan­uary.

“As I’ve trav­eled across the com­mon­wealth, prob­a­bly the num­ber one is­sue I heard about was the dev­as­tat­ing ef­fects of heroin and opi­oids on com­mu­ni­ties all across Penn­syl­va­nia, ru­ral, sub­ur­ban, ur­ban com­mu­ni­ties,” Shapiro, 43, cur­rently chair­man of the Mont­gomery County com­mis­sion­ers, said Thurs­day, two days af­ter the gen­eral elec­tion dur­ing which he de­feated Repub­li­can state Sen. John Raf­ferty for the state post. “We’re go­ing to have a very ag­gres­sive ap­proach to deal­ing with it, one that is multi-faceted.”

That plan, Shapiro said, will in­clude di­vert­ing non­vi­o­lent of­fend­ers who are suf­fer­ing from ad­dic­tion into treat­ment; part­ner­ing more ef-

fec­tively with law en­force­ment, in­clud­ing neigh­bor­ing at­tor­neys gen­eral to stem the flow of heroin from “ma­jor pipe­lines” such as one from Detroit to Erie; and work­ing with the med­i­cal com­mu­nity to deal with the over­pre­scrib­ing of opi­oid painkillers.

“But I would say that job num­ber one is restor­ing in­tegrity to the of­fice and to our jus­tice sys­tem,” said Shapiro, who is in­her­it­ing an of­fice that faced tur­moil af­ter the ar­rest and con­vic­tion of for­mer At­tor­ney Gen­eral Kath­leen G. Kane. “That process

will be­gin next week when I an­nounce some of the lead­ers of my tran­si­tion team…as we as­sem­ble a strong, eth­i­cal, di­verse staff. We’ll be devel­op­ing poli­cies and pro­ce­dures for the of­fice, a new code of con­duct, manda­tory ethics train­ing.”

From day one, Shapiro pledged, he’ll work to en­sure the in­tegrity of the of­fice and have a strong team and new poli­cies and pro­ce­dures to guide the of­fice. Shapiro would not re­veal more at this time about any per­son­nel de­ci­sions.

In Au­gust, Kane, 50, a for­mer Lackawanna County pros­e­cu­tor who was elected at­tor­ney gen­eral in 2012 and was con­sid­ered a ris­ing star among

Democrats, was con­victed of charges of per­jury and abuse of power. A jury de­ter­mined she or­ches­trated the il­le­gal dis­clo­sure of se­cret grand jury in­for­ma­tion to the me­dia and then en­gaged in acts de­signed to con­ceal and cover up her con­duct.

Last month, Kane was sen­tenced to 10 to 23 months in jail but re­mains free on bail while ap­peal­ing her con­vic­tion.

In Tues­day’s bal­lot­ing, Shapiro had a strong show­ing. He re­ceived even more votes than the top of the Demo­cratic ticket, pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Hil­lary Clin­ton.

The key, Shapiro said, was that he trav­eled the state lis­ten­ing to cit­i­zens

and learn­ing about the chal­lenges their com­mu­ni­ties faced.

“The re­al­ity is we have got to lis­ten to vot­ers and we got to lis­ten to the peo­ple and we got to be re­spon­sive and put forth real so­lu­tions. I think so much of the cam­paign sea­son in gen­eral was dom­i­nated by the shout fest on cable TV and that doesn’t serve any­body’s in­ter­ests,” Shapiro said.

“I said many times that I’m very proud to be a Demo­crat but I was run­ning to be the at­tor­ney gen­eral for all Penn­syl­va­ni­ans and I rec­og­nize that this job is very unique, un­like the job of a leg­is­la­tor, for ex­am­ple, where you re­ally have to check your

par­ti­san­ship at the door when you walk in on day one and be the at­tor­ney gen­eral for all Penn­syl­va­ni­ans and meet the needs of all Penn­syl­va­ni­ans re­gard­less of where they live or how they’re reg­is­tered or who they voted for,” Shapiro added.

While the “lion’s share” of his time as at­tor­ney gen­eral will be spent at the head­quar­ters in Harrisburg, Shapiro, an Abing­ton res­i­dent and fa­ther of four, said he’ll re­main liv­ing in Mont­gomery County.

“We love our com­mu­nity,” said Shapiro, who will re­sign as a county com­mis­sioner before he takes of­fice as the state’s top-rank­ing law en­force­ment of­fi­cial in Jan­uary.

Shapiro’s com­mis­sioner’s seat will be filled, pre­sum­ably by an­other Demo­crat. Party lead­ers will rec­om­mend a can­di­date for the seat to the county Board of Judges, which must give fi­nal ap­proval. Who­ever is ap­pointed to the post will serve the re­main­ing three years of Shapiro’s term.

“I’m in­cred­i­bly hon­ored and hum­bled by the con­fi­dence that the peo­ple of Penn­syl­va­nia have shown in me to serve as their next at­tor­ney gen­eral. I look for­ward to be­ing the peo­ple’s at­tor­ney gen­eral and we will be work­ing in­cred­i­bly hard to meet the needs of the peo­ple of this great com­mon­wealth,” Shapiro said.

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Demo­crat Josh Shapiro speaks to sup­port­ers in Doylestown af­ter he was elected as Penn­syl­va­nia’s at­tor­ney gen­eral on Tues­day.

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