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Transition to Power

Harshbarger and Vellucci Prepare to Take Over

By Jacob M. Schlesinger

The lawn signs have disappeared and the bumper stickers are peeling off. Advertising space, on bus sides and in subway cars, is unused. It is almost two weeks after the general elections, and the promp has died down Now, newly elected office holders are busy working on a less glamorous, but equally important project--their transitions into power.

The effort attracting the most attention so far has been Michael S. Dukakis's retooling for the governorship. Amid quite a fanfare earlier this week, the former and future governor displayed his 23-members transition advisory committee and its staff--a group which includes two Harvard officials. He also announced the thorough search and research procedures he would use to pick his administration and its priorities.

What Dukakis is doing at the state-level, many county and local public servants-elect are working on at a smaller scale. Two newcomers gained power in the Cambridge-area as a result of the November 2 vote--L. Scott Harshbarger '64, will be the Middlesex County District Attorney, and, Peter Vellucci, will take on the duties of State Representative from the 29th Middlesex District.

To earn charge of the law enforcement office in this county--an area which includes 54 cities and towns and one-fourth of the electorate in the state--Harshbarger had to unseat 23-year incumbent John J. Droney in the Democratic primary. Harshbarger tried in 1978 and lost by a narrow margin. This September he won in a landslide.

Harshbarger won in part because he pledged to reorganize the office and to upgrade the quality of the staff. He is now putting those promises in place. The progressive, Democrat says he has taken the last 10 days off "to reacquaint myself with my family," but starting Monday, he will set up a rigorous screening committee to generate names and to review applications for the roughly 65 spots he plans to fill.

The DA-elect insists that he has not yet made any offers, and stresses the broad-based nature of his search. He will advertise in the area and will consult prominent law firms--and other district attorney's office--both in the state and around the country. He also expects to rehire some of Droney's assistants.

Harshbarger hopes to hire his top six or seven aides by December. But as important as the people he hires will be the titles he gives them. In the past, the District Attorney's office has been organized around court systems--assistants have been assigned to deal with cases in specific court levels. Now, Harshbarger plans to put people in charge of subject areas. One will probably handle priority prosecutions, another public protection, a third appeals policy and a fourth victim-witness services.

In addition to the hiring process. Harshbarger is setting up task forces to recommend policies and projects for the new staff.

The task for Vellucci, who as a state representative can hire only one assistant, is less extensive. Yet the East Cambridge insurance agent is easily devoting as much time to his effort. Like Harshbarger, Vellucci gained his seat by beating a long-time incumbent in the Democratic primary, and he did so largely by promising to devote more attention to the needs of his constituents.

Consequently, one aide says that Vellucci who is the son of Cambridge manor Alfred E. Vellucci is "it any thing more visible in the district now that his time is not screwed up with campaigning. He has been circulating around the community, attending meetings, and just listening," the aide adds. The representative elect has also attended several introductory meetings on Beacon Hill and has put in requests for membership on the Public Safety and Transportation Committee.

Saying that crime enforcement is his top priority. Vellucci is now working on drafting two bills to be filed by the December I deadline. One would require that drivers who have accumulated a certain number of points should lose their license. The other would increase funding and training for neighborhood crime watch programs.

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