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DA debate pulls no punches

"Crime is down," Soares reiterated. "The Dana Avenue and Park South community is better today than it was four years ago."

Soares added that arrests and prosecutions are down because crime is down. He also responded to Cusick's charge that 322 accused felons were released from Albany County jail because Soares failed to indict them get them to a grand jury, by issuing a statement that said 548 such instances had happened under the watch of his predecessor, former District Attorney Paul Clyne.

"This feels like dEja vu all over again," Soares said. "I feel like his [Cusick] body's been taken over by Paul Clyne because I feel like I'm debating Paul Clyne all over again."

Labeling himself as Albany outsider, Cusick cited Conners' audit several times during the debate and called Soares "the laughing stock of tabloids around the state."

Cusick accused Soares of using his office to grandstand his political agenda and to seek national coverage when he went "with a Times Union reporter and photographer" to prosecute crime in Florida "at the expense of Albany County," but quietly ushered disgraced former state Comptroller Alan Hevesi in and out of court out of the public's eye.

"And what about the handling of Troopergate and our illustrious former governor, Eliot Spitzer?" Cusick asked at the debate, insinuating Soares protected the former governor until Spitzer's sex scandal was brought to light and public opinion turned against him.

When asked about how they viewed the office of district attorney, Soares said he had a more philosophical "proactive" approach to curbing crime while Cusick said he would strictly prosecute the "laws on the books" instead of "lobbying the legislature" to change or create the law.

"He's running for the wrong office, just like he ran for the wrong office in 2004," Cusick said of Soares, adding that he should have ran for governor or the legislature. "I leave those things to greater minds than my own."

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