GEOFFREY RUSHLAU

GEOFFREY RUSHLAU

BATH

In the race for District 6 district attorney, incumbent Geoffrey Rushlau is facing David Sinclair, a former city councilor for Bath.

Rushlau, a Republican, has been a prosecutor for his entire legal career. He was an assistant district attorney in Androscoggin County from 1980 to 1983, and then in Sagadahoc County from 1983 to 1993. Rushlau was appointed district attorney for Prosecutorial District 6 (Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Knox and Waldo counties) in 1993. He was then elected to a four-year term in 1994, and he has been re-elected four times.

Sinclair, a Democrat, was a city councilor in Ward 6 for two terms. He has been a practicing attorney in Bath since 2010, and previously worked in the technology management field.

DAVID SINCLAIR

DAVID SINCLAIR

This is the first race in which Rushlau is being challenged.

The Times Record reached out to both men with several issues related to the office. Both men responded in writing. Following are the questions and the candidates’ answers.

TR: What is your commitment to keeping nonviolent offenders in the community through alternative sentencing and community service?

Rushlau: Maine law provides a range of alternative sentencing opportunities, and we use them widely in my offices. They all depend on offenders’ willingness to change behavior. My long experience with a county (Sagadahoc) without a jail has made me a proponent, both of the programs and of the need for swift consequences, when offenders don’t change their behavior. Community service is an important part of many, but not all, court sanctions.

Sinclair: Jail diversion programs, particularly the restorative justice programs, offer a much more effective method than present policies of not only punishing an offender, but also helping heal the community that was harmed, and reducing the rate of re-offense. I will greatly increase use of such programs for first-time offenders district-wide.

TR: In the wake of medical marijuana laws being passed and decriminalization in many towns, how do you envision dealing with marijuana possession for personal use as a criminal offense?

Rushlau: The question is confusing in two ways. First, Maine de-criminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use in 1976. Since then, it has not been a crime. Second, communities have voted to legalize marijuana possession, but aren’t actually doing that. Possession is still illegal under state law. The real issue for me is whether Maine should copy Colorado and Washington and legalize possession. I believe we should wait and fully evaluate those states’ experience before taking that dramatic step.

Sinclair: If legalized, marijuana possession becomes a prosecutorial nullity. Whether legalized or not, such possession presents a much smaller challenge to the community than elder abuse, domestic violence, and possession and distribution of opiates — we need to focus our limited resources on prosecuting the crimes that cause the greatest harms.

TR: What is the most significant problem facing the Mid-coast region in terms of law enforcement and prosecution? What are your plans to deal with the issue?

Rushlau: There are two equally significant problems: domestic violence and abuse of opiates. Each requires a community response, in which the district attorney’s office is a vital partner. Sagadahoc County is a state model in domestic violence prevention, and I will continue to extend that model throughout the district. Opiate abuse is a lethal threat to our communities, and strong prosecution of traffickers is a top priority for every prosecutor.

Sinclair: The greatest problem historically and presently is the high rate of re-offense. By focusing not just on the rate of conviction, but also on lowering the rate of crime in our district, we can achieve better social outcomes, and more effectively and efficiently focus on prosecuting serious crimes.

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