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DA debate pulls no punches

Except for one light-natured question about bicycle theft, the debate between the two candidates for the office of Albany County District Attorney was no laughing matter.

Incumbent Albany County District Attorney David Soares traded barbs with second-time challenger Roger Cusick at their alma mater, Albany Law School, on Tuesday, Oct. 7. Each was given a two-minute opening and closing statement and answered a number of questions ranging from their views on the office of district attorney and how crime should be prosecuted to what they would do in office and what their relationship would be with fellow law enforcement agencies and the community.

Both men presented very different philosophical approaches to how they would be the county's top prosecutor and adamantly disagreed on the fundamental statistical issue of whether crime was up or down in Albany County.

Soares maintains the county is experiencing a 20-year low in crime, while Cusick scoffed at this notion during the debate, saying crime is not down by any means and calling Soares "a complete failure" as district attorney.

"We need a prosecutor in this county, not traveling all over the country," Cusick said, mentioning Soares' high-profile steroids case in Florida and frequent visits to other municipalities around the nation and in Canada. "Who's doing the prosecuting? Someone's got to be back in the office prosecuting cases Mr. Soares has developed a reputation of seeking headlines over safety."

Soares fired back over the Loudonville native's assertion that crime is up and questioned Cusick's knowledge of inner-city Albany crime, asking Cusick, "What streets would those be, sir? Do you know them?"

He questioned Cusick's statistics like he questioned the findings of an audit by Albany County comptroller Michael Conners that accuses Soares of poor accounting practices and misplacing drug money.

"I think you may have had the Albany County comptroller help you sift through those numbers, because I take issues with those numbers, like I took issues with his," Soares said.

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