Race for Clarion County District Attorney Gets Heated

CLARION, Pa. (EYT) – Things got tense during the exploreClarion.com Primary Election Town Hall on Tuesday when the District Attorney candidates, Maria Battista and Drew Welsh, were given the chance to speak.

It was heated even from the start with the opening statements in which Battista stated that she was the “only lifelong native and lifelong Republican on the ballot,” to which Welsh responded “I didn’t have a choice on where I was born,” but that he was glad he chose Clarion County to be his home.

Throughout the town hall discussion, both candidates were able to speak of their qualifications to be Clarion County’s next District Attorney.

Welsh pointed to his experience as the current assistant District Attorney, and Battista spoke of her experience as a Commonwealth attorney under Former Governor Tom Corbett in the Department of Health and State.

The candidates also answered a variety of questions, one of which asked how they would decide whether or not to pursue someone accused of committing a sex crime.

Welsh stated, “You need to be looking at what sort of corroborating evidence do you have” when deciding whether or not to take a case to trial. Failure to do so leads to a “he said, she said” situation, which Welsh stated “juries hate.”

Battista rebutted by saying that corroborating evidence would be ideal; however, “that doesn’t always happen” due to many people who experience sexual assault saying nothing.

She added “Does that mean you don’t take the case because it’s a ‘he said, she said’?”

Nevertheless, the most tense moment of the night came during the closing statements where Welsh created an analogy, comparing his experience to his perception of Battista’s experience, stating that someone has a child who they take to the emergency room only to find that child needs open heart surgery. In this analogy, Welsh said there were two doctors in the room, one being Dr. Battista who he says hasn’t done open heart surgery in a long time, and one being Dr. Drew who has done a lot of open heart surgery for the past eight and a half years. Welsh then asked the audience who they would pick.

Welsh closed his statement by saying “Hi, I’m Dr. Drew and I hope to see you in the operating room.”

Battista responded by saying “I would never make a mockery of the District Attorneys office in Clarion County. It’s a serious job that’s a big commitment that requires leadership, experience, and commitment.

“I have demonstrated in my personal and professional life, not only in education and law, but personally, that I’m a leader and a proven leader. I have trained attorneys. I have protected women’s rights. I have addressed issues with healthcare. And, I have also been a prosecutor. I have all of the necessary skills.”

Battista closed by saying, “I would appreciate your vote on May 21 to become the next District Attorney of Clarion County.”

Both candidates are on the Republican ticket for the May 21 primary election.


Primary Candidates Sound Off at Town Hall Forum

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