YOUNGSTOWN — Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul J. Gains and his challenger, city Prosecutor Jay Macejko, touted their credentials and traded barbs in a live, one-hour televised debate.
The debate was this evening on 21 WFMJ-TV, less than two weeks before the March 6 Democratic primary, in which Macejko seeks to oust Gains from office.
Gains, who became county prosecutor at the beginning of 1997, is seeking a fifth consecutive four-year term in the $105,703-a-year job.
“Crime is down. Convictions are up. Prison commitments are up. We are a safer community than when I took office,” Gains said.
He cited the decline in Youngstown homicides from 62 in 1996 to 23 last year and a simultaneous drop in felonious assaults from more than 1,200 a year to fewer than 300.
“Nobody’s going to question my integrity,” Gains said, adding that he has given the county prosecutor’s office 15 years of scandal-free leadership, with no lawsuits alleging discrimination and retaliation having been filed against him.
Gains cited his experience as a criminal defense lawyer and prosecutor, in supervising a staff of 42 in the county prosecutor’s office, and in defending the county from civil lawsuits.
In contrast, Gains said Macejko, who has been city prosecutor for six years, lacks civil law experience and supervises only six employees, two of whom have sued him.
If he’s elected, Macejko said he’d enter the county prosecutor’s office with 14 years of experience as a prosecutor, compared to zero for Gains when Gains became county prosecutor.
“There’s a reason that people feel unsafe. It’s because we need better performance from the prosecutor’s office. We need to bring victims and their rights into the forefront. We need to support the good efforts of law enforcement,” Macejko said.
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