BINGHAMTON NY – The highest profile race in Broome County by far this year is the one for District Attorney.

It’s a 3-way race between Republican Paul Battisti, Democrat Debra Gelson and Libertarian Mike Korchak who launched a third-party campaign after losing the GOP primary.

Tonight, we speak with attorney Debra Gelson about why she thinks she ought to be Broome’s top law enforcement official.

In her career as an assistant D-A, judge and criminal defense attorney, Debra Gelson says she’s always put women and children first. She says prosecutors serve an important role as victim advocates.

“You’re the protector, as victims, especially young victims, look at it. You’re the person that if you tell them that it’s not their fault, if you tell them they shouldn’t be ashamed, if you tell them that they’re a hero, they believe it. So, to me, part of my job, in addition to successfully prosecuting a case, is to successfully turn a survivor into a thriver,” says Gelson.

Gelson says the most important issues in the campaign are integrity, independence, objectivity and experience.

She says she’s best suited to deal with changes mandated by New York State criminal justice reform such as cashless bail for non-violent offenders.

Having directed a sex crimes and child abuse unit and having volunteered for a non-profit that housed addicted women, Gelson says she knows the need to have collaborative services to address underlying problems in order to rehabilitate offenders.

“I’ve seen that over and over representing individuals, seeing what has caused them to come back into the system over and over and over.”

Gelson says mental health and addiction treatment services, sober, safe housing and job training are all ways to help break the cycle.

Gelson grew up in Upstate New York but spent the majority of her career in New Jersey. After her 3 children were raised, she was recruited by the Tully Rinckey Law Firm to work in one of its Upstate New York offices.

She says she chose Binghamton, in part, because of its small town feel.

Gelson is convinced that she is the most qualified.

Gelson says, “I would ask the voters to look closely at what really has been said about an individual’s qualifications or experience. This is not on-the-job training. This is something that is going to have a huge impact on our community, a huge impact on our future, a huge impact on our children. And that’s what it’s all about.”