Express News Staff
LAKE PLEASANT - Hamilton County Judge S. Peter Feldstein favors the county having a full-time district attorney, but questioned how the transition would be made when the Hamilton County Board of Supervisors met Thursday, Nov. 7.
DA Marsha King Purdue has been asking the supervisors for several months to make her part-time position full-time, arguing that the job needs to be full-time because of the workload. She has been supported in this view by the NY State Police.
Feldstein supports it too, but not until Purdue's current term as DA has ended. She took office Jan. 1, 2012. Her term will end Dec. 31, 2015.
"I think it ought to be full-time regardless of caseload, because a part-time DA has divided loyalties. There are conflicts of responsibilities," Feldstein said.
Feldstein acknowledged the workload caused Purdue and James Curry before her to give up their private practices to meet the demands of being DA. He does not believe this was fair, but neither does he believe it would be fair to change the game in midstream.
"What about those who haven't run because it has been part-time?" he asked.
Fairness and public perception are important things the supervisors need to consider when weighing Purdue's request, he cautioned.
Feldstein recalled a time in the 1980s and before when the county's government was widely viewed both locally and statewide as corrupt, filled with back room deals.
"That perception has changed with the way you have conducted yourself since then," he told the supervisors. "Trust in the process is crucial."
Feldstein reiterated his support for making the DA position full-time, but not until the next election so all qualified candidates can run on a level playing field.
He concluded by saying, "I am now proud to say I am from Hamilton County. That wasn't true in the past."
Purdue is currently paid $85,000 yearly. The supervisors are considering raising her salary 1.75 percent to $86,487 in the 2014 budget.
Under NYS law, to make the position full-time would require her pay to jump to just under $160,000, with an uncertain percentage of the increase coming from state aid.