It's one of the most remote parts of St. Lawrence County, yet once a year all eyes are on Wanakena, where candidates for office come to spread their messages. As our Barry Wygel tells us, the candidates for district attorney took center stage at a forum in the small hamlet.
WANAKENA, N.Y. -- With no debates scheduled, Thursday night gave the two St. Lawrence County District Attorney candidates what may be their only chance to go head to head.
"I've taken a lot of effort to make sure we seek out grant opportunities and we seek out opportunities to secure forfeited drug monies," said Nicole Duve, St. Lawrence County District Attorney.
"In order to get drug task force money, you have to be on the drug task force. Our current district attorney does not get that drug task force money," said Mary Rain, Republican challenger.
While not following a debate format, members of the public were given a chance to ask the candidates questions, questions which covered everything from the New York Safe Act to the high turnover rate of assistant district attorneys.
"In terms of competing with the salaries out there, it's a rough road and I don't know if we can change that," said Duve.
"I think it is more a systemic problem with this DA's office, than it is budgetary constraints," said Rain.
One of the most heated moments of the night came with the mention of Garrett Phillips, the 12-year-old who was murdered in his home almost two years ago and so far, no arrests have been made.
"Let me assure you there is no lack of vigor in that investigation. I can promise you that," said Duve.
Rain chose not to comment on the issue on Thursday, but has sharply criticized Duve in the past on the issue, even appearing with Garrett's mother at a campaign stop.
"If you don't have a plan, you are doomed to commit the same errors over and over again. That includes dismissals, grand jury dismissals, lack of prosecution dismissals, acquittals at trial, you have to be able to do the shoe leather first," said Rain.
Duve mostly took Rain's criticisms in stride Thursday, but did choose to respond when Rain accused her of botching the recent massive drug bust in Massena.
"And to the extent that I am being criticized for the federal government coming in and trying to clean up Massena, let me clarify that. If you don't take advantage of, because you don't understand that the federal government has greater resources and greater punishments available to them, then you are not doing what you can to serve the people of St. Lawrence County," said Duve.
With the election under a month away, the two candidates will be working down to the wire to make their message known.