Come January, Erie County will have a new District Attorney. John Flynn and Joseph Treanor are in the race for the DA's Office on the Democratic and Republican tickets, respectively.
Flynn, the Democratic candidate, has previously run for office and has served in the Town of Tonawanda as a councilman and judge. He is seeking the office that, critics say, has been reluctant to take on big cases, including alleged public corruption. He says he is willing to take on tough cases and, although he has past political experience, he is not intending to use the DA's office to seek higher ambitions.
"This is a very important job," Flynn said. "I'm not looking for anything else. A lot of people say that the DA's Office is a stepping stone to be a judge. I've already been a judge."
Republican candidate Treanor, meanwhile, says his many years as an Air Force Judge Advocate General will help him run a DA's Office that will allow prosecutors to do their job with little managerial interference.
"You make sure your people are trained and equipped and give them your vision, you give them the mission, and you get out of the way and let them execute," said Treanor during an October 25 debate at St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute. "You don't micromanage them. You trust their own capabilies. These are all professionals."
Flynn, who is a Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve, says running the DA's Office is different than managing military justice, because the civilians working under the DA are not subject to the same military rules and codes.
Treanor calls himself a "prosecutor, not a politician" and states that his campaign is self-funded. Flynn has questioned the validity of that claim, pointing to a negative campaign piece mailed and funded by the Erie County Republican party. Treanor, on October 25, responded to that after the debate.
"What other individuals may spend or not, whatever they may do, that's their own business," he said. "That's their own First Amendment right."
Flynn, meanwhile, addressed criticism about campaign donations from the legal field during the October 27 debate in the studios of WNED-WBFO. He denies that such contributions will influence his decisions, if elected.
"Just because a lawyer contributes to my campaign, I'm somehow beholden to them. That's insulting, OK?" Flynn said. "It's the same thing for law enforcement agencies. No law enforcement agency has endorsed me with the promise of any favors. That's not going to happen."
Flynn and Treanor are running to replace Acting DA Michael Flaherty, who lost to Flynn in the Democratic Primary in September. Last week, Flaherty crossed party lines to endorse Treanor.