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Tompkins County Democrats meet DA candidates tonight

Democrats in Tompkins County will have a chance to hear from candidates for the nomination for district attorney tonight.

Tompkins County has to elect a new DA on a rushed schedule. That’s because Gwen Wilkinson resigned last month for health reasons. Her departure came so late that various party committees -- not primary voters -- will choose the nominees for the general election.

Irene Stein, chair of the Tompkins County Democratic Committee, said deep knowledge of the law is an important criteria for her. Any DA, she said, has to balance the rights of defendants and public safety. She says she's looking for "a person not only of integrity, but of breadth in understanding human beings."

Stein has met with three candidates so far, and expects them at tonight's forum: acting District Attorney Andrew Bonavia, Mathew Van Houten, and Edward Kopko. Van Houten and Kopko are currently members of the county Democratic Committee.

Stein said the Democratic Committee is holding tonight's forum so party members can ask questions of the candidates and give the committee their feedback. It’s at the Town of Ithaca Meeting Hall at 7:30 p.m.

Other party committees can also nominate candidates, according to their rules. Phone calls to the Tompkins County Republican Committee were not returned.