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Erie County DA contenders debate at St. Joe's

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute hosted its annual candidates' debate this morning. This year, the participants were the contender for Erie County District Attorney.

For its 32nd year of hosting candidate debates, St. Joe's welcomed John Flynn and Joseph Treanor to field questions and state their case for the DA's office.

Flynn, who defeated Acting DA Michael Flaherty in the Democratic Primary, cited his previous experience in the office as a homicide prosecutor and used that, along with longtime connections with numerous local elected leaders, to paint himself as the best-qualified candidate for the job.

Those connections, Flynn suggested, would also ensure that the DA's office gets the resources it needs to do its job thoroughly.

"I have the relationships throughout Erie County government," Flynn said. "I have a relation with the County Executive. I have a relation with the County Legislators. I have a relationship with State Senators and State Assemblyman. I'm in the position where I can go and get more funding."

Treanor, meanwhile, called himself a "prosecutor and not a politician," and cited his military experience, suggesting his military background would prove useful in how he may run the DA's office if elected.

"You make sure your people are trained and equipped, you give them your vision, you give them their mission and you get out of their way and you let them execute," said Treanor. "You don't micromanage them. You trust their own capabilities. These are all professionals."

The debate ran for a little less than an hour and was moderated carefully by St. Joe's Advanced Placement Government teacher Ted Lina, who successfully kept the candidates from speaking far beyond the time limits and kept the debate moving smoothly. A panel of students presented questions, with two students serving as one-the-spot fact checkers. 

"There was two of us, Matthew Duke and I, we had our iPads," said senior Ben Bryan. "We were looking at all of the statistics, all of the factual things said by both Mr. Treanor and Mr. Flynn."

Bryan said the candidates said nothing that warranted a correction. 

The St. Joe's debate was closed to the public. The candidates will meet again Thursday morning inside the studios of WNED-WBFO for a debate the public will be able to follow. That debate will be broadcast live by WBFO, beginning at 11:10 a.m.

Hear St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute's debate featuring the candidates for Erie County District Attorney in full.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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