Madison County DA candidates debate

Voters had the opportunity to meet the District Attorney and his challenger last week. DA Jeffrey Aumell (D,C -- Canastota) and challenger Bill Gabor (R,I -- Cazenovia) participated in a meet-the-candidate night hosted by the Oneida Area League of Women Voters and held at the New Beginnings Community Church.

Each candidate was given five minutes to talk about his experience and background before moving on to questions from the League and from the audience.

The lion's share of Aumell's experience has come from more than six years of work with the Madison County District Attorney's Office. In addition, Aumell said he did some criminal defense work in his third year of law school, but he didn't care for it.

"I never felt right about it," Aumell said. "It was about getting the best deal for your clients, and getting them out of things it was pretty clear they'd done. Prosecution suits me and who I am. Two recent manslaughter-first convictions speak to that."

Aumell said prosecution provides an opportunity to make people accountable for their poor decision-making and get justice for victims through collection of restitution and other means. He said he is accustomed to the middle-of-the-night calls from police asking him to respond to an accident or crime scene or helping them decide what, if any, charges should be filed when processing defendants.

Gabor offered a synopsis of his 25 years in law that ranged from a stint in the Madison County District Attorney's Office to his private practice. He said he made that move largely in order to get experience in working more high-profile cases, something that was largely monopolized by the DA and first assistant DA during his time with the office.

Asked why they wanted the job, Gabor said he struggled with the decision to run. Aumell said he couldn't think of a nobler cause than working to protect public safety.

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