ELIZABETHTOWN - Two Republican candidates have emerged to challenge incumbent Julie Garcia for the seat of Essex County district attorney.
Clinton County Assistant District Attorney Kristy Sprague is aligned for another run at the seat, and Lake Placid attorney Brian Barrett has announced his intent to run as well.
Sprague said March 12 she'll only enter the race if she gets the backing of the county Republican Committee.
That decision is expected to take place when the committee meets March 31.
Barrett, however, said he'll likely force a primary vote should he be passed over by the committee during its endorsement meeting.
Sprague said she decided to announce her candidacy because cases are being mishandled due to a lack of experience in the Essex County DA's office.
The final straw came a few weeks ago when a sex charge against a Lake Placid man was dropped due to lack of evidence, Sprague said.
"(ADA) Michael Langey is the only person in that office with trial experience," Sprague said. "As a result, cases are getting dismissed."
Garcia, however, countered that she'd be happy to debate her record as Essex County district attorney and said she's made steady progress since taking office in January, 2006.
She invited residents to visit the web site managed by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services to look at felony arrest conviction rates. The site is criminaljustice.state.ny.us
"Anyone can look at our statistics, they've steadily improved since 2005," Garcia said. "We've prosecuted more felony cases and gotten more convictions."
Sprague said she brings 11 years of trial experience to the table.
"I have tried more than 50 cases in a county with four times the case rate, including two double homicides. Both ended in convictions," she said.
Barrett, who has been in private practice the last three years, commended Garcia for the team she's assembled, but said some of her policies make it difficult for them to do their job.