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The Best Gifts from Schoharie County

Showing posts with label 2017 election. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2017 election. Show all posts

Smith: Fighting Heroin Goal of DA Candidacy

Written By Editor on 3/26/17 | 3/26/17

Blenheim Supervisor Shawn Smith announced his candidacy for Schoharie County District attorney at a bipartisan event held on March 25th.

Smith said that he had a variety of life experiences growing up in Schoharie County, including as a logger, mechanic, student, attorney, and Supervisor. He serves as municipal attorney to several Towns and Villages across the County. He served as public defender over the last

Photo Credit: Warren Burton
"What drives me to run for District Attorney is my experience as a criminal defense attorney. It gives me a unique insight into the criminal justice system," he said. He serves as a Public Defender in Delaware County.

Smith then spoke next about the "heroin epidemic in the area," stating that it would be the number one issue law enforcement deals with in Schoharie County.

"Some of my colleagues both as attorneys and fellow legislatives say that the problem is out of control and too big for us to control as a county," Smith said, "We have a lot of resources here in the County, in the DA's office, the Sheriff's Office, the Village of Cobleskill Police... the State Troopers. If everyone works together we have a lot of resources we can put in and hopefully reverse the trend and reverse it and turn it around."

The candidate gave several examples of clients he defended over the years. One was a young woman accused of petit larceny. He said that it wasn't obvious that she had a drug problem, but she explained that she had a problem with prescription pills. "That's what drives people to heroin," he said. The young woman stole to pay for drugs. Smith said many people can't reverse the trend without help. She was thinking about enrolling in college, she said.

Because she wasn't charged with a drug crime, there were no immediate resources open for treatment at the time. Smith pursued options for her. In the meantime, he was asked to represent her in a family court matter after she was beaten up by her boyfriend, an alleged heroin dealer. She sought and received a temporary order of protection against the boyfriend. Smith called around for treatment options for her in the meantime and called her mother several days later. "It was one of the toughest phone calls I ever had," he said. The young woman died of a heroin overdose.

"It made a big impression on me. It's weighed on me a lot," he said. Even worse, the boyfriend is still on the streets, even though he was arrested and released. "In a way, he's responsible for her death."

Smith spoke of another client that requested supervision of his children before the mother died of a heroin overdose.

The candidate called for a three-pronged approach to fighting the local heroin. "We can make a big difference in this," he said. "It keeps getting worse and worse. That's why I'm dedicated to running for District Attorney."

Smith's plan included a plan to assist first time users. "They need help, they need treatment," he said, citing successful programs in other counties. "There's things we can do without spending a lot of money." He said that in cases where defendants have charges that likely drug related, any plea deals will require drug treatment options. He said there are cases where some users are unrepentant and think it's a "victimless crime." He cited broken families and that these types of users are "part of the problem" and would be dealt with harshly.

Smith said of the 16 towns of the county, none are spared drug issues. He said that drug dealers and pushers should be cracked down on. "retribution is swift and severe. It has to be severe enough that they'll think twice or decide that it's totally unworth it to sell drugs." He promised the "stiffest punishment possible."

Thirdly, Smith said the District Attorney's office can work with early intervention programs. He said that the DA's job is a 24-7 job and requires the office holder to be "active in the community."

Smith closed by saying that he wants to open a dialogue with everyone, whether they supported him or not. "I encourage you to talk to me about it. It's a problem we're all dealing with."

Smith's campaign page can be found here.

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DA Race Kicks Off at Bipartisan Event

Schoharie's Quality Inn Hotel was packed with 140 people for the launch of Blenheim Supervisor Shawn Smith's candidacy for District Attorney.
A litany of public officials were present for the event, sponsored by the Democratic Party Chair Clifford Hay and Ten Pin Catering of Middleburgh.

Smith's campaign launched emphasized a non-partisan approach to local law enforcement issues, with a particular focus on eradicating heroin use in the County. Officials from a variety of communities were there. Present were the Democratic Supervisors of Fulton and Sharon, Phil Skowfoe and Sandra Manko, respectively. Republicans, Sheriff Tony Desmond and Supervisor Dave Simkins of Broome were there. Republican Supervisors Leo McAllister of Cobleskill and Pete Coppolo of Middleburgh both intended to go, but had other obligations, Smith said. Mayor of Cobleskill Linda Holmes and former Middleburgh Supervisor Jim Buzon were also there.

The event included several speakers before Smith's campaign launch speech.

First was Sheriff Anthony Desmond, who spoke to Smith's commitment to law enforcement. "He's a good supporter of the Sheriff's Office," he said. "Shawn, like I said, is a great guy. You can talk to him. He'll listen to what you have to say. He comes up with a solution we can both live with.

Retired State Trooper Butch Ostrander spoke after the Sheriff. He told a personal story of watching the Supervisor grow up. Ostrander said he first met the candidate while Smith was working as a mechanic with his father. Smith, he said, spent his younger days logging and working on cars.

Sharon Supervisor Sandra Manko spoke next, explaining that Smith is a hard working member of the County Board and told a story of his early days in practice.

He decided to leave high school to become a mechanic full time. Ostrander said it's easy to drop out and chase an "easy buck" but that Smith then attended SUNY Cobleskill, SUNY Albany, and finally Albany Law School.

Schoharie Town Attorney Michelle Storm spoke last. She was a classmate of Smith's at Albany Law and saw him as an energetic and skilled attorney who excelled at his coursework.

Last, Supervisor Smith spoke to the assembled crowd, as seen in our next article on the race. He emphasized that local efforts can reduce the rate of heroin addiction in Schoharie County. His campaign page can be found here.

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Blenheim Supervisor Smith Announces Bid for District Attorney

Written By Editor on 2/18/17 | 2/18/17

Blenheim Supervisor Shawn Smith announced Saturday that he is running for Schoharie County District Attorney. He set up a Facebook page to support his candidacy.

Mr. Smith, an attorney, is in his second term as town supervisor. He is a Democrat and is also planning to seek the Conservative and Independence lines.

The seat is currently held by James Sacket, a Republican, who is retiring this year.

Mr. Smith was born and raised in the Town of Jefferson and later moved to the Town of Blenheim, where he currently lives.

“I have always had an interest in criminal law, both prosecution and defense, and that has been the focus of my legal career,” Mr. Smith said.

His first legal job was at the Schenectady County District Attorney’s Office. While working there part time though law school (2010-2012) he was granted a practice order by the Third Department of the Appellate Division Supreme Court.

“In that time I had the great pleasure of working with some well renowned prosecutors. During the time that I worked in that office I learned enough to jump start my career. I was able to work with seasoned trial attorneys," he said.

He was there for two years and experienced working in Schenectady City Court, various town courts, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court and even second seated Felony trials. He worked on several appeals which included low level felonies all the way up to homicide cases.

“When I returned home and opened my own office in Schoharie I immediately was able to handle a wide range of issues for my clients.”

While in practice he has handled nearly every type of criminal case from speeding tickets and disorderly conduct, to felonies based on serious drug charges, assaults, weapons possession cases and basically everything in between. He also practices family law and has represented many clients that were the victims of domestic abuse and seeking protection from their abusive spouse. While doing that he has prosecuted numerous family offense petitions and successfully represented his clients that were the victims of offenses such as disorderly conduct, menacing in the second or third degree, harassment in the first or second degree, reckless endangerment, aggravated harassment in the second degree, stalking, assault in the second or third degree, attempted assault, criminal mischief, sexual misconduct, sexual abuse in the second or third degree, forcible touching, strangulation, criminal obstruction of breathing, grand larceny in third or fourth degree, and coercion in second degree.

“Since opening my office in Schoharie in the beginning of 2013 I have had dozens upon dozens of trials and pretrial hearings in various courts. I have successfully represented clients in Greene, Delaware, Otsego, Schenectady, Albany and Schoharie Counties. I have tried cases in all different types of courts- sometimes conducting multiple trials in one week.”

In addition to continually doing that type of work in Court, he said he has also dedicated a large part of his career to public service. He serves as legal counsel to multiple municipalities throughout the county and in 2013 he was elected as Town Supervisor of the Town of Blenheim and was re-elected to that post in 2015. He continues to serve as Town Supervisor and a member of the County Board of Supervisors. While in that capacity he has served on several county committees including the county Law Enforcement Committee and the Alternatives to Incarceration Committee. He is a member of the Delaware County Bar Association, the New York State Bar Association and President of the Schoharie County Bar Association.

Smith is also an avid hunter, trapper and fisherman as well as a gun collector. In his spare time, Smith enjoys camping, canoeing and hiking with his family. “Hunting, fishing, canoeing and hiking are the best ways to escape from the stresses that come with being a busy attorney” Smith said.

“I would like to bring my successful public service and private practice careers together for the benefit of the people of Schoharie County,” he said.

“The Office of District Attorney is the perfect opportunity for me to be able to do that. I plan to campaign all around the county from now until November in an attempt to earn the trust and support of all our residents. I would be honored and humbled to serve the residents of Schoharie County as their District Attorney.”

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