The race for Seneca County District Attorney has been settled.
While one of the candidates involved in the three-way race was mathematically eliminated after Election Day, two others had a bonafide shot at victory.
Absentee and affidavit counts proved to be crucial in the race that separated Democrat Mark Sinkiewicz and Republican John Nabinger by just 91 votes after Election Day.
However, that margin was enough for Sinkiewicz, who has served as acting district attorney since Jan. 1, 2019, to win the race.
“I am grateful to all the voters who came out to vote in this election,” Sinkiewicz said after Tuesday’s absentee counts. As ballots were counted—it became clear quickly that not enough would be outstanding for Nabinger to complete the comeback.
“I am especially thankful to the people who cast their vote for me,” Sinkiewicz added. For him, the validation of winning a four-year term means that voters were happy with the direction of the District Attorney’s Office in Seneca County. “In seeking your vote, I was seeking your trust, and I will work hard to keep that trust,” Sinkiewicz continued.
While either of the other candidates would have had a few weeks to prepare for the responsibility of being District Attorney—Sinkiewicz moves forward focusing on the work that must be done to get Seneca County ready for major criminal justice reforms, which take effect Jan. 1, 2020.
He hopes to bring stability to the judicial system in Seneca County after several years of elections for various offices. Seneca has seen two district attorney races—as well as a county court contest—all in the last four years.
“Between this election and the election for judge last year, Seneca County has been in a state of transition for some time,” Sinkiewicz recounted. “It is time to settle down, roll up our sleeves, and continue the work of insuring the safety of this fine community.”
Sinkiewicz reiterated some of his concerns about bail reforms and changes to discovery in the court process, which could challenge offices like his. However, he said throughout his campaign that only time would tell as it related to outcomes for Seneca.
He admitted that adhering to the rigorous 15-day schedule outlined by the changes approved by the legislature and signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo will be a challenge. That change requires that all materials relative to a case be made available within 15 days of arraignment.
The goal of the law was to increase efficiencies in courts across New York. “Look, I can see cases where meeting the 15-day deadline will be a challenge,” Sinkiewicz said before Election Day. “The clock starts ticking on the date of arraignment. The materials must be made available within 15 days. Although extensions can be granted with ‘good cause.’”
It was a scenario where Sinkiewicz said cases could potentially get tossed if deadlines are not met.
The Acting District Attorney and District Attorney-elect says a digital portal will be critical to ensuring that his office has a fair chance to process all the changes coming Jan. 1. “It’s hard to assess the needs to deal with the changes coming,” he explained. “The digital system will improve efficiency but does require work. Personnel costs may require adjustment, and there will be additional court appearances, increased data management needs, and we may have to reduce overall caseloads.”