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Editorial: In a DA race with two strong candidates, Flynn’s experience sets him apart

Editor’s note: This is one in a series editorials endorsing candidates for some of the offices to be filled Nov. 8. These endorsements by the editorial board are intended to aid voters in their evaluations of the candidates for those offices. Whether you agree or disagree with our recommendations, we urge you to vote.

Erie County voters face a pleasant dilemma in deciding who will lead the District Attorney’s Office: Which of two well-qualified military prosecutors should occupy the county’s top law enforcement office?

Both men have strong resumes, though neither has extensive experience in civilian courts. John J. Flynn Jr. has at least some of that work in his background, though, offering voters one measure by which they can distinguish between the candidates. We endorse him.

Flynn served as a Judge Advocate General officer in the Naval Reserves and is a former town judge in the Town of Tonawanda who now serves as town attorney.

He served for a year in the Erie County District Attorney’s Office, working in the Homicide Bureau and gaining at least some experience in the complex and, yes, political county office.

While Flynn won last month’s Democratic primary, though, he lost his effort to win the Conservative Party nod. He had been endorsed by Conservative Party leaders, who were impressed by the range of his experience, but voters chose Joseph V. Treanor III, who spent 28 years in the Air Force as a military lawyer. He prosecuted 40 cases, winning convictions in 39 of them. He was involved in investigating more than 60 cases in total and also worked on appeals.

Both candidates support the public integrity unit formed by Acting District Attorney Michael J. Flaherty Jr. in the aftermath of concerns that former District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III had paid scant attention to the issue. Both pledge to pursue public corruption wherever it may appear in Erie County.

If there is any concern regarding Flynn, it is in his standing as the candidate of the county Democratic Party. Some worry that might induce him to back off investigating some public corruption cases. He flatly promises that he won’t, and he needs to make good on that promise. Republican Treanor, for his part, is not accepting any campaign donations.

Clearly, both men have significant experience in prosecuting cases in the military system. We have no doubt both could succeed in the civilian world of criminal prosecutions, but the fact is that only Flynn has that experience so far, and that gives him an edge.

 

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