The upcoming election for Broome County District Attorney is pivotal to the legal direction that our local community takes for the next four years. It will not only affect the way that the citizens of Broome County are treated by the legal system, but will also define many of the ways that the legal system interacts with Binghamton University students on a daily basis. The two candidates, Democrat Matt Ryan and Republican Paul Battisti, have widely differing viewpoints on issues such as incarceration, policing, public safety and prosecution. If the 2022 election for New York’s 52nd state senate seat, where Democrat Lea Webb beat Republican Rich David by less than 1,500 votes is any indication of how these divisive races can polarize Broome County, it is clear that every single vote cast next week will be a decisive one.

The decision of which candidate to endorse was clear and unanimous, which speaks both to the vast policy differences between the two candidates, and the quality of their responses to our candidate questions. We strongly believe that Matt Ryan should be the next District Attorney for Broome County. This endorsement is significant not only because we believe that Ryan’s platform has the potential to greatly improve Broome County’s legal woes, especially when compared to Battisti’s platform, but also because it is part of a bipartisan coalition of endorsements that Ryan has received. This speaks both to Ryan’s effort to engage with the community, especially younger voters and college students, and Paul Battisti’s weaknesses.

Ryan’s motivation to run for office is driven not only by his desire to make communities in Broome safer through prosecution, but is also molded by his desire to change the way that Broome’s criminal justice system has perpetuated crime and negatively impacted victims for decades. Broome County needs change in the way that it prosecutes criminals, and it is clear that Ryan is the change candidate in this election. When we asked Ryan to describe how his background translates into making him a strong candidate for the office of District Attorney, he gave a detailed response describing not only his experience as an attorney, but also as a leader of different organizations. He was a leader and activist during his time in the Broome County Public Defender’s Office and as Mayor of Binghamton, where he fought for fair treatment of defendants and practiced fair application of the law. Ryan not only lists the classic issues of safety and drug abuse prevention as pivotal to his platform, but describes the importance of prevention before crimes occur, making victims feel more comfortable reaching out to police or the DA’s office and ensuring that the post-sentencing treatment of defendants in Broome County is more equitable and sympathetic. Lastly, Ryan made a passionate commitment to support the young people of Broome, and referenced his connections with professors and students of BU over the years.

Battisti describes his motivation to run as a way to protect his family and the residents of Broome, which is not a dishonorable goal. However, his platform lacks the necessary compassion for change and ideas to improve the way Broome treats those that it prosecutes. Battisti did not provide a detailed reply that solidified his qualifications for the position, and only described his individual experience as an attorney in Broome County. Battisti has failed to expand upon his platform of safety and dealing with drug abuse in the community, and did not provide any significant plans to improve the way defendants are treated post-sentencing. Finally, Battisti failed to describe any reasons for why young people should vote for him over Ryan, and once again focused on the classic Republican talking points of eradicating crime and strengthening prosecution. While this platform might secure the votes of older voters focused on reducing violence associated with gangs and drug dealers, it fails to meet the necessary compassion required of a District Attorney who cares for all their constituents.

Whether or not you ultimately decide to cast your ballot for Matt Ryan next week, your vote in this election could be the deciding factor, so please take the time to stop by a polling site on Tuesday if you are registered to vote in Broome. Polls are open from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. across New York state for this year’s local elections. Early voting in-person also runs until Nov. 5, and absentee ballots can be brought to a polling site or be postmarked and mailed in until polls close on election day.