ALFRED, Maine — Voters will choose between two candidates for York County District Attorney when they head to the polls on Nov. 6.
Democratic Incumbent Kathryn Slattery is being challenged by Independent Bernard Broder for the four-year post. Slattery believes her experience serving two terms in the office brings a solid knowledge of the role and continuity moving forward, while Broder says it’s time for a change, and notes he will bring new ideas and creative solutions to the position. Both candidates bring over two decades of experience as practicing attorney’s to the role, and have held several positions in the Maine court system.
York County is the second most populous county in the state with roughly 200,000 people in 29 cities and towns. The York County District Attorney’s Office typically handles more than 10,000 criminal cases, over 2,000 civil violations and 500 juvenile matters each year.
Slattery, 58, lives in Old Orchard Beach. She was first elected in 2010, and ran unopposed in 2014. She is seeking her third term noting that she has built a team of dedicated and motivated staff in the office, and brings experience to the position.
Slattery said she is running again for district attorney to “continue to have an impact on criminal justice in both York County and throughout the state.”
″I began my career as an assistant district attorney assigned to the Biddeford District Court 31 years ago, and have worked in all four of York County’s courts, primarily in Alfred. I was appointed deputy district attorney in 1991. Being district attorney is the culmination of every bit of training and work experience I have had. It allows me the unique opportunity to serve the citizens of York County by protecting public safety and doing my best to make sure victims are protected from further victimization,” she said.
Enhancing public safety, increasing the size of the domestic violence unit, heightening the focus on elder abuse and financial exploitation of senior citizens, and working with the courts to find better ways of handling mentally ill citizens involved in court proceedings are her goals and key issues she plans to address if re-elected.
“I’ve allocated the resources of my office in order to better achieve this goal. I will maintain a felony unit comprised of prosecutors who have the experience and skills to handle the most serious cases,” she said. “I will continue to place an emphasis on domestic violence, and increase the size of the domestic violence unit. The three prosecutors assigned to the unit are highly trained and dedicated. I will increase a focus on elder abuse and financial exploitation. I am in the process of working with law enforcement and Adult Protective Services to develop protocols for handling those cases.”
Slattery is hoping voters will recognize the experience she brings to the office when they head to the polls next week.
“My experience in all phases of the operation of the District Attorney’s Office is my key strength. A district attorney is a lawyer, a manager and a policymaker. As a lawyer I’ve argued countless jury trials and prosecuted everything from speeding cases to manslaughter. I’ve spent my career learning and honing my skills as a prosecutor and a litigator — skills essential to success as a district attorney,” she said.
Slattery has managed the district attorney’s office staff and managed a budget of $1.3 million.
“I have consistently presented budgets to the county commissioners that are fiscally responsible also allowing for incremental increases in staff necessary to carry out our work,” she said.
As a policymaker she says she has increased emphasis on domestic violence and felony prosecutions and obtained a grant-funded impaired driver prosecution position that has increased the conviction rate for OUI’s in York County.
The opioid crisis is having a strong grip on York County, and Slattery said there is no question it has a large impact on the criminal justice system in York County, as well as the community. She said it’s important for the court system to send a strong message via tough sentences to the large scale drug traffickers that it will not be tolerated in York County.
It’s important, however, to also get to the root of the criminal behavior when dealing with individuals whose addiction has either fueled their criminal behavior or been the reason for the criminal behavior, she said.
“We have to offer some sort of treatment option. I was part of the small team which created the Layman Way Recovery Center, a long term residential treatment center available only to individuals who would otherwise be incarcerated pending resolution of their cases. They have been arrested, bailed, rearrested and are no longer a good bail risk. But sitting in jail awaiting trial without treatment doesn’t help anyone.The program allows individuals in this category to be bailed directly to the center and as long as they remain at and complete the program there is no return to jail. This is cheaper and more productive than having people languish in jail. Hopefully, upon completion of the program they are able to exit the criminal justice system and enter the workforce,” Slattery said.
“The scourge of addiction has wreaked havoc on Your County communities and families, and presented enormous challenges to my office, law enforcement ant the courts. The Recovery Center is an example of people stepping forward to do something rather than wait for the state or federal government to step in. I will continue to be involved in similar efforts moving forward.”
Broder, 60, lives in Sanford and has served as assistant district attorney in both Aroostook and York Counties. He has also served as assistant attorney general, and the bail commissioner for the State of Maine Judicial Branch.
Broder says he’s running for district attorney to bring change, new ideas, creative solutions and solid, hands-on, accessible leadership to the role.
“I bring those to the position yet I’m not new to prosecuting, given my experience as a former Assistant Attorney General and Assistant District Attorney,” Broder said.
About his decision to run, Broder said, “voters deserve to have a choice between more of the same and hope for a better future.”
“For many years a significant number of York County police chiefs, law enforcement officers, victims of crime, agencies and attorneys working within the county’s criminal justice system have voiced concerns regarding the leadership in the district attorney’s office. The current district attorney has had ample opportunity to effect change,” Broder said. “It’s time for new ideas, creative solutions, and solid hands-on accessible leadership, and I bring those to the position.”
Broder said crimes related to the opioid crisis, domestic violence, and mental health issues deserve critical attention in York County.
“I want to focus on our veterans who should be steered towards services rather than incarceration when the effects of their service to country such as PTSD, substance abuse and mental health issues manifest in criminal conduct,” he said.
Broder said he also wants to make Maine’s roads safer by prosecuting motor vehicle offenses. “There have been several motor vehicle fatalities in York County in recent years for which no prosecution was initiated despite the investigating officer’s identifying specific contributing factors such as excessive speed, texting while driving and more,” Broder said.
He said he also aims to tackle the problem and prosecution of animal neglect and abuse cases in York County.
“The Buxton puppy mill case involved over 150 neglected dogs and costs exceeded $500,000 for their care. Not a single criminal conviction came from this, which was prosecuted during our current district attorney’s tenure,” he said.
Broder says he is an experienced trial attorney and prosecutor, known for being firm, fair and creative. He says he will bring his positive working relationships with York County law enforcement officials to the job if elected.
“I bring both public and private sector management and legal experience, and I’m a hard worker who will be present, visible and accessible both at the courthouse and in the community. I pledge to do this not just at election time, but throughout my tenure as district attorney,” he said.
Broder holds a Master of Divinity degree from Andover Newton Theological School and believes it adds to his strengths he would bring to the DA position.
Broder said the fiscal drain on the criminal justice system and its resources from the opioid epidemic is “incalculable.”
“We are losing people of all ages to opioid use and abuse. The toll on individuals, families and communities is immeasurable and defies description,” he said.
Broder said from the role of the district attorney’s office, he sees the epidemic as two issues — supply and demand.
“Those trafficking in illegal drugs, whether by transporting them into our state or by manufacturing them here for distribution must face stiff, lengthily sentences upon conviction,” he said.
“For those facing criminal charges for the illegal use or possession of drugs, we need to use the criminal justice system as a means of holding them accountable for their choices, while offering them hope for recovery and a better future,” Broder said.
To accomplish this, Broder said an alternative to incarceration in the form of substance abuse treatment, including in-patient treatment where indicated and follow-up care, is critical.
“Treatment is the preferred route whenever possible, and benefits not only the individual with a substance abuse problem but also the community. Public safety is paramount in discerning case outcomes in all criminal matters. Drug related offenses are no exception. If an individual poses a risk to other individuals or to the community at large, those considerations take priority over what might be preferable or in the best interest of the defendant,” he said.