As the new year draws closer, there are some new faces in several public offices across the region.
Republican Joel Abelove won the race by less than 500 votes, a finish that mirrored the strong Republican showing across New York and nationwide in the November elections. "I don't doubt that that helped me out. I mean, issues like the SAFE Act, displeasure with certain policies of the governor, I gotta believe that that certainly played a role."
He'll replace Acting District Attorney Art Glass, who was called to serve after former D.A. Richard McNally was elected to the state Supreme Court last year.
No stranger to the D.A.'s office, Abelove worked as an assistant D.A. and as a prosecutor for the New York State Department of Health’s Bureau of Professional Medical Conduct. He served 19 years in the New York Army National Guard.
His campaign promise: " to make Rensselaer County safer and stronger." "I am extraordinarily grateful for the opportunity that the voters in Rensselaer County have given to me, and I worked there for a little over 10 years as an assistant D.A., I worked very hard then and my pledge to the people is that I'm going to work just as hard, if not harder, now as their district attorney to help keep them safe."
Abelove, a graduate of Tufts and Albany Law, says he's ready to tackle the criminal activities that have been plaguing the largely rural county of about 160,000 residents. "The drug problem, the heroin problem, certainly problems that have had a devastating impact on Rensselaer County. I've already talked a bit with the Troy Police chief about that as well as some other issues going on and how to address them. The violent crimes, the guns, the drugs. A lot of that stuff is intertwined. Welfare fraud is something that I campaigned very heavily on, and going after, that's something that we will pursue. The taxpayers, certainly in these tight times, are really fed up with paying for people's benefits that they don't need and that they're basically scamming the taxpayers out of. That's something I look forward to working with the county government on."
Abelove believes the D.A. can actively deter crime through successful prosecutions of lesser offenses. He's starting things off with a staff reduction after winning the county legislature's permission for several job changes. Initially, the office will shed one investigator, which the new D.A. chalks up to "prioritizing." "There's only so much money in the budget, and with some of the things that I was looking to do coming in, it was necessary for me to cut that budget item. We still have four investigators in the office, so we'll be able to make do with that and at the same time it allows me to increase some different positions from less than full time to full time."
Following major victories in the 2014 elections, members of the Rensselaer County Republican Committee will hold a swearing-in ceremony 11 a.m. on New Year's Day at the historic Rensselaer County Court House in downtown Troy.