There are a number of races worth paying attention to this fall, which are shaping up as we speak.
One of those major races is for an elected term to the District Attorney’s Office in Seneca County.
Both the incumbent and challenger talked about the responsibility required to take on such a position. On September 12th, voters will decide who moves forward as the Republican nominee.
Identifying the big differences, or big storylines within any political race is easy enough to do. It’s the way many voters make decisions and cast votes. While candidates spend days, weeks, even months crafting a message and delivering it to voters — that effort culminates in a single-day election that can be decided by hundreds, or even a small handful of votes.
Seneca County District Attorney Barry Porsch, who is seeking another term as lead prosecutor for the County is relying on experience. It would be his third term as District Attorney, should he be chosen by voters in November’s election.
“I’m focusing on doing my job — not campaigning,” he explained during an interview with FingerLakes1.com. “I owe that to the taxpayers, because I don’t have the time to devote to campaign events or speaking engagements.”
Porsch has taken the approach of letting results speak for his candidacy. For the last three years, Seneca County has ranked third in New York State for DWI convictions.
In 2016 alone, more than 76 percent of those cases resulted in convictions. And while that number was only beat out by two other counties in New York — Porsch says that many of those remaining 23 percent of cases were reductions from driving while intoxicated charges — down to lesser ones.
Porsch also calls on the experience he gained going through two major cases, which involved state and federal officials. The murder trial involving Karl Karlsen, who Porsch notes is the most-evil person he’s ever encountered in his career — was stacked on top of an already-busy court schedule. The Roger Barto trial, which took up a great deal of his time – as it moved through the court process — was also a major learning experience.
“You understand the hours put into these cases by hard working members of law enforcement, and understand that prosecuting these cases wouldn’t be possible without their efforts,” Porsch explained.
He believes the time spent on the job, combined with the relationship he’s developed with voters in Seneca County — will be enough to propel him through the finish line.
His opponent, Joe Sapio, former-Fayette Judge and defense attorney by trade – believes the time for change is now.
“The system is broken,” he said while on a podcast in the FingerLakes1.com Studio in August. “I want the system to work for everyone, and right now that isn’t happening.”
Sapio believes his experience can help Seneca County a great deal. While his opponent has made issue of a switch from defense attorney to lead prosecutor — it’s a transition that Sapio believes can benefit everyone involved.
“It gives me a different perspective. It doesn’t mean I’m any less qualified to do the job,” he added. His campaign, events, and speaking engagements have been driven and organized by a small group of friends and family — who believe in his message, according to Sapio.
While Sapio noted in his appearance on Inside the FLX that he has received support from a wide-range of political parties and backgrounds — including the Democratic Party — Ruth Same, who is the Democratic Election Commissioner said in a statement that the party would not be throwing any official support behind his candidacy.
The job of District Attorney is challenging because executing the law is a decidedly non-political action. However, local politics has infiltrated its way into the race.
A number of petition challenges, questions about support and money, as well as raw intentions have run rampant throughout the summer in Seneca County.
Voters will be deciding the future of the District Attorney’s Office on September 12th in the Republican Primary, and then will finish the job on Election Day.
Listen to the Porsch and Sapio’s appearances in-studio, as they talked about their campaign, efforts, and goals for Seneca County on Inside the FLX.