Livingston County DA contest

McCaffrey, Schiener, Sessler square off in DA debate

Livingston District Attorney race to be decided next week

By Les Bowen for Genesee Country Express and Hornell Evening Tribune
Nov. 1, 2012   |   Original source

At one of a handful of opportunities for voters to meet candidates for Livingston County District Attorney, the three participated in a debate last Wednesday at SUNY Geneseo.

The three candidates in the race are incumbent Democrat Greg McCaffrey, who was appointed last spring by Gov. Andrew Cuomo; Republican Eric Schiener, who served in the county DA office for 12 years, six of them as first assistant district attorney to Tom Moran; and Conservative Party candidate Steve Sessler, whose resume includes service as a town judge in Livonia and judge advocate work in the U.S. Marines.

The debate, sponsored by the law firm of Cannon and Van Allen and hosted by the and WYSL, posed 12 questions to the candidates, giving each the chance to directly answer four questions with rebuttals from their opponents.

While all three articulated their plans for administering justice through the DA’s office, the contrast each made against the other two was about experience and qualifications.

Schiener went after McCaffrey on the differences between the volume of the cases McCaffrey handled in his time in the Monroe County DA’s office, which McCaffrey causticly referenced for the rest of the debate as his “high volume, low value” experience.

More broadly, Schiener pointed to his 12 years experience in the Livingston County DA’s office and noted that McCaffrey had just five months prosecuting cases in Livingston County and Sessler none.

McCaffrey stood on his experience as the only candidate who has run the DA’s office, albeit for less than a year. He further touted his experience handling a broad range of felonies and thousands of misdemeanor cases in Monroe County.

He added that his experience as a defense attorney in the intervening years has allowed him to see the other side of a court room. McCaffrey explained that he understands the perspective of both attorneys in a case.

Sessler positioned himself as someone who has seen the courtroom as both a defense attorney and as a town judge. Adding his time working cases in the military, he boasted 23 years experience — far beyond either of the other two.

The three candidates will appear on the ballot in the general election next Tuesday. After Sessler and Schiener evenly split the GOP in the primary, the race is expected to be extremely tight. Polling places across the county are open 6 a.m to 9 p.m. For a complete list of polling locations, see page B7 of this week’s newspaper.