May 15, 2019 – Broome County – At 4:30 on the campus of SUNY Broome College, all the potential candidates for the District Attorney seat gathered. The lecture hall was filled with students and older members of the community. All wanted to hear clear answers about the future of one of the most important offices affecting the public safety.
The event was run smoothly. Questions were created by professors of SUNY Broome, and provided to the candidates prior to the event. This was to ensure the most detailed answers possible. In addition, this helped to ensure that answers would not devolve into partisan or personal attacks.
Unedited video: Opening and closing statements
Forum content – agreement
There were a couple of notable things that occurred at the event. There was the bi-partisan agreement by the Democrat challenger Deborah Gelson and current Chief Assistant District Attorney Michael Korchak, on the need for experience in the District Attorney position. A declaration that apparently hit Republican challenger Paul Battisti visibly hard, given his lack of experience as a prosecutor.
The candidates expanded on the thought of experience. At several points Battisti emphasized the need for round-table discussion to direct the path of the District Attorney office. This was opposed by the other candidates, suggesting leadership from the top.
Another item of mutual agreement for Gelson and Korchak was the significant need of the D.A. to teach and guide future prosecutors. That leadership, they claimed, was essential in both retaining prosecutors and ensuring the most efficient cases. Gelson focused on cases needing to be reviewed or overturned due to poor attention to details.
Forum content – disagreement
Separate of this bi-partisanship, Gelson and the Korchak were on opposite sides of the need to review cases for a social justice emphasis. Gelson, who was the only candidate at the event without any notes for any question, repeatedly focused on second-guessing cases that have already been prosecuted.
Her comments routinely touched on issues commonly used in talking points by Far Left ideology. She emphasized increasing the number of specialty “diversion” courts to address these issues. This was seconded by Battisti, and opposed by Korchak. Neither Battisti nor Gelson explained where funding for those additional costs would come from. Korchak suggested combining the diversion courts to reduce cost and improve efficiency.
Unedited video: Questions and Answers
The focus of the event was on the function and details of the District Attorney office. The events target audience were students at the school interested in criminal justice. Yet the focus worked for community members hoping to see less politicing in evaluating the best choice for the elected position.
We provided unedited video of the complete event for voters to consider. This may be especially important for Republicans who will be involved in the primary taking place in June. That will decide which candidate faces the lone Democrat Gelson in November.