York County voters will choose between two candidates for district attorney.

Incumbent Kathryn Slattery was first elected in 2010 and ran unopposed in 2014. A Democrat, she is now seeking a third term. Her challenger is independent Bernard Broder, a former prosecutor and longtime attorney. There is no Republican candidate.

The winner will lead the second busiest prosecutorial district in the state, make decisions about big cases and set law enforcement priorities. The York County District Attorney’s Office handled more than 9,000 criminal cases last year.

The office has more than 40 employees and a budget of $1.3 million. The attorneys themselves are paid by the state, and their pay scale ranges between $82,000 and $118,000.

Slattery has focused her campaign on her experience as a career prosecutor in York County. If re-elected, Slattery said she would like to continue building on the changes she has made in the office.

For example, she said she has grown the domestic violence unit from one person to three, and a grant-funded position has helped her office increase the conviction rate for operating under the influence.

In another term, she said she would try to create a specialty docket for cases that involve mental health, so the attorneys and relevant service providers could handle them more efficiently.

“I did choose public service quite deliberately,” Slattery, 58, said. “Here I’m impacting people like victims of crime. I want to be on their side.”

Broder is running on a promise to bring a fresh perspective to York County leadership and make the district attorney more visible in the community. He spent the first eight years of his law career as a prosecutor in Aroostook County and then York County, and has run a private practice in both criminal defense and civil matters since 2005.

Broder said he wants to be tougher on operating under the influence and domestic violence, and he said he would also be more aggressive about prosecuting animal cruelty cases, like the one against the owners of a Buxton puppy mill that resulted in a plea agreement.

“I think that York County is ripe for a change in leadership in the district attorney’s office, and that is what I bring,” Broder, 60, said.

The two candidates agree on many key issues, including helping defendants with substance use disorder get into treatment, increasing the resources dedicated to domestic violence cases, prosecuting elder abuse, and re-evaluating some of the mandatory minimum sentences in Maine statutes.

The state is still in the throes of an opioid crisis, and drug overdoses continued to claim nearly one life per day in Maine during the first six months of 2018. Both candidates said they are supportive of the unique approach by York County, which opened the Layman Way Recovery Center earlier this year. It is believed to be the first residential addiction treatment center operated by a county government in Maine.

County residents charged with nonviolent crimes are screened for program eligibility by a judge and transferred to the recovery center as a condition of bail. Both Slattery and Broder said they are supportive of that program and other tools such as deferred dispositions.

Slattery said she would like to see more meaningful diversion programs in Maine, and that her office uses probation conditions as a way to encourage people to get help for their addiction.

“Requiring counseling and requiring treatment, those are part of sentences fairly frequently,” Slattery said.

Broder said he believed the county should help people access recovery services. He said he would monitor the Layman Way Recovery Center to make sure it is a more cost-effective approach than subsidizing treatment in other programs instead.

Slattery and Broder both said they see a role for the Long Creek Youth Development Center, despite calls from critics to close the state’s only juvenile detention facility.

Slattery said her office often uses restorative justice in juvenile justice, meaning that the defendant has opportunities to reconcile with the victim and the broader community.

Broder said he would like to see restorative justice employed in more adult cases in York County when the victims are interested in that option. He said he learned its value years ago when he was the victim of an assault and met the perpetrator, who talked about what happened and apologized.

Campaign finance reports filed Friday show both candidates have raised more than $8,000 so far, which includes their own money as well as individual contributions from donors. Slattery, who raised most of her funds from individual donations, has spent more than $4,500 and has nearly $4,000 cash on hand for the remainder of the campaign.

Broder has $94 cash on hand, in part because he decided in September to return all of his individual contributions – $1,300 from six donors – and self-fund the campaign to avoid any appearance of undue influence from other people, especially lawyers who practice in York County.

Megan Doyle can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

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Twitter: megan_e_doyle