MAYVILLE – Chautauqua County District Attorney Patrick Swanson will be seeking his second term as Chautauqua County’s Chief Prosecutor.
Swanson confirmed his bid to WNYNewsNow Wednesday. The Chautauqua County Board of Elections website indicates that Swanson, a Democrat, submitted his petitions recently to both the county’s Working Families and Independence Parties. Both Parties accepted and authorized the petitions.
Swanson says his numbers for petitions for the Democratic Party are “where they need to be.” The Board of Elections website, as of Wednesday, indicated that the Party hasn’t officially accepted and authorized the petitions.
Nobody has, to his knowledge, declared a primary challenge, says Swanson.
The incumbent said he’s planned to run for District Attorney for some time.
“I intended to (run) all along,” Swanson said. “I haven’t felt it was the right time to announce it yet (with the ongoing Coronavirus global pandemic).” Swanson adds that he was awaiting the collection of petitions.
“A period of four years is a pretty short period of time to get what you want done,” Swanson said. “We’ve begun to move the office in a direction that is a more structured, professional type office where you have areas carved out for people with unique skills to handle kinds of cases where their strengths seem to fall.”
Swanson says his office is working on educating the community on what his office is working on. Swanson additionally told WNYNewsNow that his office is hoping to rebuild the public’s trust in the criminal justice system, something that he says has “eroded” over the last decade-plus.
Staffing has been an issue since Swanson was elected to his first term in 2016, according to Swanson. The Fredonia native says one of his biggest goals, if re-elected, is to obtain a bigger staff.
“As I settled in, I realized the office needed a bigger foot print. We needed more people,” Swanson said. “I’m going to continue to push for a right-sized staff.” Swanson says that’s very important as his office continues to adjust to the recent criminal justice reform in New York State, along with what he says is a high crime rate here in Chautauqua County.
WNYNewsNow asked Swanson what point he wants voters to consider during election season. He says he hopes people can see how him and his office have worked to face various challenges, such as criminal justice reform and the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.
“You need somebody in the position that has a feel for what’s going on,” Swanson said. “The criminal justice system has undergone an amount of change over the last four years that’s unprecedented….I hope the voters see we’ve managed these things very well. We’ve put our office in a position to meet the challenges that have been imposed with all of these changes.”
“That’s not easy to do, and that comes from leadership. I’ve got a great staff that I’ve amassed. We do a lot of brainstorming to do the right thing.”
The Chautauqua County Democratic Party announced in February that they’d endorsed Swanson for a second term. The following is a quote from Swanson that the Democratic Party released:
“I have spent the last decade serving Western New York as a prosecutor because I believe in the higher calling of public service and I have a vision for the justice system. The District Attorney’s office is the front line of most of our County’s most pressing challenges such as domestic violence, illegal guns, and illegal drugs.”
“But it’s also an opportunity to make a true impact on people’s lives, which is why I’ve been committed to taking on difficult cases on behalf of crime victims, creating a School Safety Team, fighting for needed office crime fighting resources and prioritizing treatment for people with substance abuse disorder. There is much more work to do to make our county safer and our justice system fairer.”
Swanson was previously appointed as the acting District Attorney in 2016 after former DA David Foley was elected as a Chautauqua County Court Judge. He has served in the County DA’s office since 2012. Before that, he worked in the Erie County DA’s Office for a year-and-a-half.