AUGUSTA, Maine — A major challenge awaits whoever is elected district attorney of Kennebec and Somerset counties on Nov. 6.
Eight of the 11 prosecutors who started work in Prosecutorial District 4 on Jan. 1 will be gone by the first day of 2013.
Three prosecutors have left already, one’s last day is Friday, one will exit Nov. 7 and three more will go after the new district attorney takes office on Jan. 1, said acting District Attorney Alan Kelley, who will depart Jan. 1.
“It’s certainly all since the caucus back in July,” said Kelley on Wednesday, referring to the Democratic caucus, which nominated Maeghan Maloney over Kelley.
Rep. Maloney, D-Augusta, is running against Republican nominee Darrick Banda of Manchester for the district attorney post. They will debate at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 1, in the Jewett Hall Auditorium at the University of Maine at Augusta.
“The biggest challenge is personnel,” said Banda. “All of those prosecutors will tell you they’re leaving because they don’t think Ms. Maloney is qualified to run the office.”
“That’s simply not true,” Maloney said of Banda’s remark. “Because they would wait until after the election if that was true. They’re concerned about working with Darrick. It goes both ways.”
Both candidates bring a wealth of experience.
Maloney went to Leavitt Area High School in Turner and graduated from Harvard Law School in 1997. She has worked as a private investigator in Washington, D.C., an assistant district attorney in Portland, Ore., an assistant attorney general for the state of Maine and is currently in private practice at Maloney Law Offices in Augusta in addition to being a state representative.
Banda went to Bangor High School and graduated from the University of Maine School of Law in 2001. He was an assistant district attorney for Somerset and Kennebec counties from 2003 through 2008. Since then, Banda has been a defense attorney for Daniel Lilley Law Offices.
Banda said his work in litigating cases makes him a better-qualified candidate.
“It’s one of the biggest things that distinguishes my candidacy from Maloney’s,” he said. “I’ve been doing criminal work in Maine my whole career. She has not.”
Maloney said her experiences in Maine and Oregon should be seen as an asset because she brings fresh ideas and new perspectives.
Because eight prosecutors are leaving the district attorney’s office, Maloney said her experience as a leader will be needed.
“I do think that it’s important that I do have experience managing an office and have managed other attorneys and paralegals before,” she said. “I worked on the judicial budget as a member of the Judiciary Committee. That experience is critical, as the district attorney oversees a budget of close to $1 million every year.”
The incoming district attorney will take over the two remaining years of Evert Fowle’s term. He left to become a District Court judge in February. Kelley has been the acting district attorney since then.