Following Steve Cornwell's plan to not seek re-election, Broome County will welcome a new district attorney next year.
Republicans Mike Korchak and Paul Battisti are squaring off in a primary that has been one of Broome County's most heated races in recent years.
For Korchak, the move wouldn't come with a lot of change, as he currently works at the chief assistant DA under Cornwell, who chose not to seek re-election following four years on the job.
"I intend to use those 21 years as a prosecutor to continue to serve the people of Broome County, continue working daily with police officers to get justice for victims, and I intend to train younger prosecutors to do the same," said Korchak.
Battisti has been a criminal defense attorney for 14 years, where he runs his own private practice.
"The role of district attorney is not merely defined as going to court,” said Battisti. “You're an administrator, you're a manager, and you’re a supervisor. You've got to know how to work with people, and you've got to know how to bring people together."
Battisti has been critical of Korchak for being what he calls "soft on crime." He says his opponent has given out far too many plea deals.
"Last year, we only had 16 jury trials in Broome County, with 28 prosecutors, two full-time county court judges. We need more,” Battisti said. “The residents, I've learned over the last five or six months going door to door, they want more. They want safety."
"I've worked side by side with law enforcement for 21 years,” said Korchak. “I've prosecuted some of the most violent felons in Broome County and put them in jail for long periods of time."
The opioid crisis has both candidates' attention. Korchak sighted the downward trend of overdose deaths thanks to a number of treatment programs.
"There's no acceptable level of overdose deaths, but it is significantly down, down to the way it was,” said Korchak. “I believe the last three months we've had three, two, and one overdose deaths."
Battisti, on the other hand, says the DA's office needs to be stricter with its drug diversion programs.
“Currently, if you're charged with a misdemeanor drug offense, you only need to complete 90 days of treatment before you can see that charge dismissed,” said Battisti. “That's ridiculous. Anyone that knows anything about substance abuse, we need more."