WHY RUN FOR DISTRICT ATTORNEY?
The District Attorney is an important elected office at the county level because it has a direct impact on individual citizens and the community as a whole. The DA’s office sets policies on the issues challenging the county and ensures that justice is achieved for victims, witnesses, and offenders. I decided to run for office because I want to restore integrity to the office of Centre County District Attorney. It is imperative that we restore the public’s trust in our legal system. We need a DA who will put the interests of the county first and focus on matters that are important to us. The following are issues that are important to the community and myself and what I promise to do if elected to be your District Attorney.
I believe we need to find solutions that address the underlying causes of criminal conduct. I want to work with the community to make the changes that need to happen so crimes are not committed in the first place. However, if and when people do commit crimes, I will keep our community safe, make victims whole and ensure the legal system gives offenders the tools to re-enter productive society.
TACKLING THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC
The opioid crisis requires a smart-on-crime community response. The DA’s office must work with law enforcement, experts, and the community to create a plan that works. We need a comprehensive approach that holds criminals accountable, while addressing the underlying causes of the crisis—the addictions of individual offenders. Dealers must be aggressively prosecuted to send the message not to come here. At the same time, people who become addicted need access to treatment so they can recover and return to our community.
Specialty courts like drug court work because they address the root of the problem that leads to crime. Prosecutions and drug courts are not enough, prevention and education must become a priority. I will lead an initiative to engage county officials, addiction experts and the community in projects that educate on the realities of opioid addiction. In addition, I will work with middle and high school Resource Officers to teach students about the real life consequences of heroin and opioid abuse.
Currently we have in excess of $800,000.00 in drug forfeiture money that could be directed to combat the crisis. I believe in tackling the opioid epidemic from the supply and the demand side by treating addiction for what it is, a public health crisis, while aggressively going after those who peddle drugs in our community.
Sexual assaults must be prosecuted aggressively and professionally. Aggressive in the sense that you take risks as a prosecutor. You bring cases to trial when an assault occurs, not just when you are sure you can convict. Professional in the sense that you protect the privacy and respect the needs of the victims, ensuring they have access to the resources they need to heal and receive justice. Everyone in our community deserves to be safe. The primary responsibility of a prosecutor is to ensure we are all protected from crimes of violence and sexual violence.
Every member of our community deserves to feel safe, and the law and the legal system should be fair regardless of a perpetrator or victim’s race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity etc. Instances of harassment should be investigated and where possible, prosecuted to send clear a message that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated in Centre County.
Transparency in government is fundamental to holding elected officials accountable. The public has a fundamental right to know. If elected, my office will always act to protect the integrity of ongoing investigations, while at the same time promptly providing records that the public has a right to see, following both the spirit and letter of the law. Transparency also means engaging in open dialogue with the community; therefore, I will also seek partnerships with constituent, university, and advocacy groups to address the issues facing Centre County.
A District Attorney is not just a trial lawyer. They train and mentor new attorneys, run an administrative government office, and manage a diverse office staff. To be a good DA you need a diverse set of leadership skills. I currently teach lawyers trial skills at the Trial Lawyers College in Wyoming. This experience in training, as well as my decades of coaching, will transfer to the management, hiring, and retention of lawyers in the District Attorney’s Office.
The Centre County District Attorney’s office manages a $1,500,000 budget in addition to $800,000 in drug forfeiture funds. As a certified public accountant, I have the skills to manage budgets and grants, and to work with the County Commissioners’ Office to ensure taxpayer money is spent wisely.
Under Pennsylvania Law, the District Attorney has original jurisdiction over environmental law enforcement. I believe that in this era of federal defunding and deregulation it is more important than ever to protect Centre County’s precious natural resources.
I believe we should do more at the county level to enforce animal abuse laws. Additionally, we need to educate the public to prevent animal abuse in the first place.
FAIR PROSECUTION, FAIR SENTENCING
I understand that young people make mistakes, which is why I believe that sometimes it is fair to be lenient and sometimes it’s not. A person’s first experience with the legal system is an opportunity to correct behavior and often it is not necessary to aggressively prosecute these cases. I believe in redirecting first time offenders to first-offender programs, alcohol responsibility programs or rehab.
I believe we always need to encourage people to call the police when it can save a person’s life. If elected, my office will avoid prosecuting individuals who report alcohol poisoning.