Ryan, Battisti face off for Broome County District Attorney

A former two-term Democratic Mayor of Binghamton, Matt Ryan has 15 years of experience as a public defender. Paul Battisti, his Republican opponent, has worked locally as a defense attorney for nearly 20 years and ran previously in 2019.

The pivotal race for Broome County District Attorney (DA) between Matt Ryan, a former Mayor of Binghamton, and Paul Battisti, a local defense attorney, will be decided on Nov. 7.

Ryan, who has 15 years of experience as a public defender in addition to his eight years as Mayor, focused his campaign on addressing systemic causes of crime, establishing a relationship between the office and the community, increasing access to mental health resources and holding perpetrators of crime accountable. He specifically described the office’s “prosecution-over-prevention approach” as archaic and “woefully out of touch.” Currently, Broome County has the second-highest incarceration rate in the state, with the average incarceration rate over double the national average.

“I’m running because a prosecutor’s office can do so much more than just prosecute crime to make our community safer,” Ryan wrote in an email. “I was inspired to run by young racial justice advocates nationally and locally, and the success of progressive prosecutors around the country at reducing mass incarceration, rolling back the punitive war on drugs and making their communities safer. Decades of failed so-called “tough on crime” policies have not made us any safer. I know there is a better way. I have the experience to provide the leadership to put those ideals into practice.”

Battisti has nearly two decades of experience at different levels of the judicial system, and his campaign highlights a “law-and-order” approach to community safety, the opioid epidemic and reducing Broome County crime rates. Along with an opposition to defunding the police, Battisti expressed a desire to work with law enforcement throughout Broome County on the area’s most pressing issues.

“I’m running for six reasons — my wife and our five children,” Battisti wrote in an email. “I want them to feel safe, and I want the same for every family and resident in Broome County. Over the last several years, crime rates are up, families feel less safe and fentanyl is killing people. It has to stop. I’m running for [DA] to bring common sense solutions that make our community safer. I have the experience and priorities that Broome County needs.”

In 2019, Battisti won the Republican primary over current DA Michael Korchak, only to lose the general election when Korchak ran as a Libertarian. In this June’s Republican primary, Battisti defeated Korchak with 55.6 percent of the vote. He has garnered support from Broome County’s local political establishment, including Sheriff Fred Akshar and the Binghamton Police Benevolent Association.

Ryan looks to return to public service after his two terms as Mayor of Binghamton. During his first term, Binghamton faced substantial economic hardship during the 2008 recession. Ryan touted his work to bring Binghamton through “the worst recession in 80 years” and noted that the city was in “excellent fiscal health” when he left office in 2013.

Atticus Fauci, the president of Binghamton University’s College Democrats and a sophomore majoring in economics, described the race’s significance.

“I’ve been following this race for a long time now,” Fauci said. “Back on parade day last March when [Ryan] was asking College Democrats to go out and petition for signatures. It’s a very important election that decides how the criminal justice system for Broome County acts and prosecutes.”

Arthur O’Sullivan, the treasurer of the College Republicans and a senior double-majoring in biology and classical studies, contrasted the candidates’ diverging platforms.

“Crime remains one of Broome County’s biggest issues,” O’Sullivan said. “Naturally the DA race becomes a real barometer for public sentiment. It seems to me that Battisti is campaigning on public safety and a ‘tough on crime’ approach, whereas Ryan is appealing to his progressive stances and experience in office. I can’t say for sure whose messaging will win on Nov. 7, but it will sure be interesting to see.”

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