Sprague kicks off re-election bid for Essex County DA

LAKE PLACID – Kristy Sprague will seek another term as Essex County district attorney.

Sprague, a Republican from Willsboro, formally announced her re-election bid at a reception at the Mirror Lake Inn Thursday night. She told the Enterprise that she feels she’s made an impact since winning the post in 2009, but there’s still more work to do.

“I love what I do,” Sprague said. “My job is extraordinary. For years, I’ve been a career prosecutor, and since being in this job and seeing the progress that we’ve made over the last three years, I have so many visions and projects in place that I really want to keep that momentum going.”

Before becoming district attorney, Sprague was a prosecutor for Clinton County. In 2009, she won a contentious race against then-DA Julie Garcia. Sprague ran on the Republican and independent lines, and Garcia – who was originally elected as a Republican – ran as a Democrat.

When the dust settled, Sprague bested Garcia by just 126 votes.

Sprague said her first-term goal was to take a comprehensive approach to prosecuting crime in Essex County. She said she didn’t want to focus on certain crimes. Garcia, for instance, had made a priority of drunk-driving cases.

“I think we’ve done that,” Sprague said. “Over the last three years, we’ve concentrated on the cases – we’ve had a lot of drug sweeps. From that have stemmed welfare fraud cases that went unprosecuted for the (prior) four years, which to me was unthinkable. We’re sort of taking the lead in that area to try to start curbing the prescription drug abuse and Medicaid and welfare fraud.”

Sprague said she’s also made an effort to battle domestic violence by assigning one of her prosecutors solely to cases involving things like spousal abuse and domestic disputes.

Sprague said drunken driving incidents have been on the decline in Essex County, mirroring what she called a statewide trend. She said her office instituted the county’s first-ever driving while intoxicated victims impact panel.

Sprague said she thinks the relationship between the DA’s office and local law-enforcement agencies has improved under her leadership.

Sprague has rarely butted heads with the Essex County Board of Supervisors. She said that’s because she has done her best to exercise fiscal discipline in her office.

“The only increase that we’ve seen is the mandatory increases with the benefits packages, the retirement packages. I have kept our budget down and actually increased our revenues,” Sprague said. “I’ve been looking for alternative funding sources. A lot of it comes through grants. We’ve secured quite a few grants that we’ve been able to utilize. And it’s not just for my office. I buy equipment for law enforcement. I just bought some cameras for the sheriff’s department.

“Everybody is on a tight budget, but we can’t compromise public safety just because of cuts in the budget.”

Thursday’s reception, which also served as a fundraiser for Sprague’s campaign, was hosted by Ed and Lisa Weibrecht, Bill and Allison McGahay, and Greg and Lisa Caito. The Weibrechts own the Mirror Lake Inn. Bill and Allison McGahay are active in local politics; as recently as last year, Bill served as acting chairman of the Essex County Conservative Committee, while Allison recently took over as Essex County’s elections commissioner. Greg Caito worked for Empire State Development under former Gov. George Pataki, for whom Bill McGahay worked as well.

Garcia said she doesn’t plan to run at this point. She said she hasn’t heard about anyone else who might be interested.

Brian Barrett, a lawyer from Lake Placid, said it’s unlikely that he’ll run this year. Barrett is a criminal defense lawyer who has taken on many high-profile cases throughout the North Country, including a Russian figureskater accused of stealing a car and driving drunk in Lake Placid, former Saranac Lake Youth Center Director Michael Scaringe, who had sex with an underage girl who frequented the youth center, and numerous drug cases involving the Canadian border.

Barrett briefly flirted with a run for district attorney in 2009 but ultimately withdrew his name and backed Garcia.

“I would never say never,” Barrett told the Enterprise.

Bethany Kosmider, who chairs the Essex County Democratic Committee, said she hasn’t heard about any definite candidates at this point.

“It’s a bit early, but if anyone is going to run, we should hear in the next month or so,” she said.

Minerva town Supervisor Sue Montgomery Corey, the former chairwoman of the Democratic Committee, said she also hasn’t heard about any potential Democratic challengers, either.