The new district attorney for the Midcoast took the oath of office during a ceremony at The Samoset Resort in Rockport on New Year’s Day.
Dozens of people attended the ceremony. In addition to District Attorney Natasha Irving, re-elected Lincoln County Sheriff Todd Brackett and Assistant District Attorney Christopher Fernald took their oaths of office.
Irving now serves as district attorney in Prosecutorial District 6: Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc, and Waldo counties.
Kennebec County Probate Judge Elizabeth “Libby” Mitchell administered the oaths.
“What an extraordinary way to start 2019,” Mitchell said.
Brackett, D-Nobleboro, was sworn in first, followed by Fernald. Fernald was accompanied to the front of the room by his significant other, Kelley Mellenthin.
Irving, D-Waldoboro, was sworn in last, after a speech by her campaign manager, Melissa Sterry.
Sterry said she is proud of Irving, the first woman and the first Democrat elected to the District 6 position since it was established in 1972.
“Natasha Irving is the best candidate I ever had,” she said. “It was a long, hard campaign.”
Sterry said Irving is only the fourth female district attorney in the state and the first person since 1972 to unseat an incumbent district attorney.
Irving takes over the position from Jonathan Liberman, R-West Bath, who was appointed to the position by Gov. Paul LePage in 2017. Irving was elected Nov. 6.
“Now we’re ready to do the honors for this beautiful young woman, who is going to do such a great job as the next district attorney,” Mitchell said before administering the oath.
During her campaign, Irving advocated for community-based restorative justice as a way to hold offenders accountable and help victims and the community heal.
Irving said the occasion was perhaps the most important day of her life, other than the day her 4-year-old daughter was born.
Irving then thanked her supporters, the people who volunteered or worked on her campaign, and her family.
“I couldn’t have been the person I am today, nor would I have been able to run the race we had, without a family that supported me every day,” she said.
She then thanked her campaign manager.
“She believed in me, she told me what to do, and I did it. And that’s why we won,” she said.
Irving grew up in Waldoboro and still lives in the town with her partner, daughter, and stepdaughter. She is a graduate of Loyola University in New Orleans and the University of Maine School of Law.
A defense attorney at the time of her election, she opened a law office in Waldoboro in 2014.
“It’s because of the voters, it’s because of the passion of all the people here in Maine and the Midcoast, and the United States, that we’re going to have a better future,” Irving said.
She likened history to a moving train.
“You can’t be neutral on a moving train,” she said. “As district attorney, I cannot be neutral in the face of mass incarceration. I cannot be neutral in the face of prosecution of the sick for being sick or the poor for being poor. I cannot be neutral amidst a culture of sexual violence.”
“We have to take a stance, and today is the day that we take action,” Irving 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. So thank you all for riding this train with me.”