Four years ago, as an independent candidate, Valerie Gardner defeated Republican incumbent Jason Cook to win the Yates County District Attorney race. Last year, she fell to Cook in the race for Yates County Judge, and this year she is being challenged in a heated campaign with independent Todd Casella, Steuben County Assistant District Attorney.
Their battle has included legal challenges that ended up in courtroom arguments over the validity of petitions. As a result, Casella was not allowed to challenge Gardner in the Republican Primary in September, but his name will appear on the Independence and Reform lines.
While Gardner points to her experience in private practice and over the past four years as DA, Casella says his own experience and relationships with law enforcement make him the stronger candidate.
Casella, who has been a Steuben County prosecutor for less than five years, boasts about endorsements from bargaining units representing New York State Police and Yates County Sheriff Deputies. Gardner says she’s proud of individual endorsements, including from a crime victim who never voted before and a former defendant who credits her with helping him get his life in order.