The prosecutor race for Livingston County continues to heat up as the August 7 primary draws closer.
The race, which includes defense attorneys Lyle Dickson, Carolyn Henry and Assistant Prosecutor William Vailliencourt, are all republicans and will be facing off in August.
Amid some political digs between candidates over campaign ideas, specialty courts and budget strategies, the three candidates for Livingston County prosecutor met during Monday night’s candidate forum in Hamburg.
Answering questions from the large audience regarding some of the hot-button issues, none of the candidates were shy about stating their opinions.
With her opening remarks to the large audience, Henry acknowledged that each candidate probably held the same concern for the community.
“I think we can all stand here before you today and say that what we want for our community is to have safety,” she said. “But beyond that my opponents bring nothing else.”
Henry, a trial attorney for the last 13 years, says that she is the only candidate that is in court on a regular basis.
“I’m in circuit court almost every day,” she said. “I don’t see these two there.”
Leadership and experience are what Henry says she will bring to the position saying that working with various groups such as schools, judges, law enforcement and citizens is what is required of the job.
Henry also says she is focused on reducing the $2 million budget of the prosecutor’s office and pledged to work hand in hand with specialty courts, such a drug courts and mental health courts. Henry also said she would take the lead in implementing a veterans court.
Vailliencourt, a longtime veteran of the Livingston County court system introduced himself to voters last night opening with the line of, “experience matters.” Valliencourt also addressed the issue of specialty courts, questioning their role and effectiveness in regards to public safety.
“They have their role, but we can’t lose sight of the fact that public safety is the primary objective,” Valliencourt said. “And that will be the yard stick that I use to determine if those specialty courts are worthwhile. Does it actually protect the community by reducing crime?”
Valliencourt stated that it was up to the courts and probation department to administer and determine the supervision of the offenders of the programs.
Valliencourt also addressed the possibility of helping to make the prosecutor office more effective by implementing new technology such as paperless filing.
Dickson who is a 20-veteran of the police force, a former assistant prosecuting attorney for Wayne County and a former city manager, addressed the issue of the budget by stating it was already shrinking each year. Due to his experience and education, however, he says he has already been trained “to provide more services for less expense.”
Discussing his plans to help reduce budget costs, Dickson referred to a plan that involved removing several supervisory positions and putting the money towards victim advocacy programs.
Henry, agreed with the idea regarding the supervisory positions which would help the office start "doing more with less."
"There's three attorneys supervising five people," she said. "That is a waste of resources."
Although where the idea first originated is a source of contention between the two candidates.
Valliencourt disagreed however.
"I think there is a misperception when you talk about supervisors," he said. "These are people who are experienced, highly experienced trial attorneys. They handle a full docket pf regular cases plus extra cases on top of that. ...That compromises public safety in this county and that is why I will not cut prosecutors."
Dickson also discussed his plan to to implement tougher policies including no plea deals for drug dealers, something he says he feels is lacking in Livingston County compared to other counties around the state.
“Mr. Valliencourt has indicated that there’s tough policies that are being implemented by the prosecutors office,” he said. “Well I can tell you, they’re not that tough.”
The winner will face Democrat Matthew Evans in the November general election.