Montgomery County

Montgomery County to have first contested race for DA since 1978

Both candidates are current assistants to longtime Montgomery County District Attorney Jed Conboy, w
Howard Aison-D, left, and Kelli McCoski-R, right.
Howard Aison-D, left, and Kelli McCoski-R, right.

Montgomery County voters will have their first general election choice between district attorney candidates in decades as two assistant district attorneys compete ahead of the impending retirement of the current district attorney.

Howard Aison and Kelli McCoski are both seeking the post. Aison won the Democratic line in a primary against McCoski in September. McCoski is running on four lines, Republican, Independence, Conservative and Reform.

Both are current assistants to longtime Montgomery County District Attorney Jed Conboy, who chose not to seek re-election this year.

McCoski, 55, of Amsterdam, has served as an assistant district attorney in both Montgomery County and Fulton County since 2008. She previously served as a public defender, social services attorney and Montgomery County attorney for a decade.

Aison, 71, of Amsterdam, was once district attorney himself, serving in that position from 1979 until 1985. He then served as Montgomery County Court judge for a decade and Amsterdam City Court judge for nearly two decades. He hit the mandatory judicial retirement age last year and returned to the DA’s office as an assistant in January.

Aison graduated from Brooklyn Law School in 1970; McCoski from the University of Bridgeport School of Law in 1985.

Both Aison and McCoski cited improved relationship with county schools as goals.

Howard Aison

AGE: 71

HOME: Amsterdam

OCCUPATION: Assistant District Attorney for Montgomery County

FAMILY: Married, two grown children

PARTY: Democratic

Aison said he wants to make sure that disruptive students who violate the penal law, like bringing drugs to school, are held accountable. He said he instituted a similar concept during his first tenure as DA.

“Some of it is administrative to be handled by the school,” Aison said, “but in terms of penal law, if any penal law offenses are committed, those are to be handled by the District Attorney’s Office.”

McCoski said she wants to continue the good things that Conboy has done curtailing crime in the county. She also wants to ensure schools can get ahead of potential problems so that they don’t become an epidemic.

“I have a great relationship with law enforcement that I’d like to continue,” McCoski said. “I’d like to get some programs in the local schools to educate the children as to what they may see coming down the road.”

McCoski said she’s been running into positive responses from county voters. She said the community is a changing one and there are newer programs like drug court, mental health court and the integrated domestic violence court.

She said they want something new and she’s new.

Kelli P. McCoski

AGE: 55

HOME: Amsterdam

OCCUPATION: Assistant District Attorney for Montgomery and Fulton counties

FAMILY: Two grown children

PARTY: Republican, Conservative, Independence, Reform

“They’re ready for change. They’re ready for a woman to be district attorney in Montgomery County,” McCoski said. “They want someone new and fresh with new ideas to deal with things.”

Aison said when he meets with voters, he shows them his record as district attorney. He tried a number of serious cases, including four murder cases, and won gulity verdicts.

He also questioned McCoski’s record as a prosecutor, including a trial last year where a jury found a man not guilty of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide in a 2013 crash that killed three people. The jury found the crash was caused by a previously unknown seizure condition and not a criminal act.

McCoski countered that the job of a prosecutor isn’t about wins and losses, but to seek justice.

The race is believed to be the first contested race for Montgomery County district attorney since 1978, when Aison first won election. Aison, then his successors Guy Tomlinson and Conboy all ran unopposed in the years since. Conboy has been district attorney since 1996.

Categories: Schenectady County

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