Crowded field vying to replace embattled Albany County District Attorney

Most pundits will tell you David Soares’ current political predicament is the result of a major self-inflicted miscue.

Six-way race for Albany D.A.

The long-time chief prosecutor of Albany County finds himself in a crowded race as he tries to hold onto his job.

Now the longtime chief prosecutor of Albany County finds himself in a crowded race that will ultimately determine whether or not he’ll be able to keep the job he’s now held for 20 years.

As recently as two weeks ago, Soares appeared to be bulletproof, untouchable, and guaranteed to walk unopposed into his sixth term as district attorney. Now the field of candidates has expanded to include six seasoned lawyers, all of whom possess impressive credentials.

When the state Department of Criminal Justice Services sent grant money to the Albany District Attorney’s Office late last year, it was intended to hire, train, and retain overworked staff. Soares used $22,000 of that money as a bonus to boost his own salary which already stood at $202,000, the highest paid employee of Albany County.

“It is a betrayal of the public trust,” said Assemblyman Phil Steck (D – Colonie). “I think at this point it would be appropriate for this district attorney to step aside.”

Soares is not stepping aside. He has decided to give back the money. However, the optics of the situation has created a six-way race among Democrats.

One of the challengers happens to be Steck, a Harvard educated lawyer who began his career as a prosecutor in New York City.

Also in the race is Lee Kindlon, a longtime area defense attorney who once ran against Soares, losing by 17 percentage points in 2012.

Someone else Soares once beat in a Democratic primary is Paul Clyne, who preceded him in office and told NewsChannel 13 he’d like to have his old job back, and is officially in the race.

Another candidate interested in become Albany County’s top prosecutor is Rick Hartunian, the former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of New York.

Rounding out the field, is John Czajka, who currently works as division counsel for the New York State Police.

All six candidates have filled out questionnaires. The Executive Committee of the Albany County Democratic Organization hopes to have all candidates interviewed within the next few days. An endorsement may be made by the end of the week.