SEA member and Rockingham County Attorney candidate Joe Plaia is hoping to clean up the office and restore its reputation after the previous officeholder left his post in disgrace.
Earlier this year, former county attorney Jim Reams was forced to resign over allegations of sexual harassment and financial mismanagement. In the wake of that, Plaia’s candidacy has drawn some unexpected support, that of Foster’s Daily Democrat, which typically endorses conservative candidates.
“We were pleasantly surprised,” Plaia said of the endorsement. “They’ve been writing good things about me since March, and last week they basically blew my opponent out of the water.”
Plaia’s Republican opponent, Pat Conway, worked alongside the disgraced Reams, and as the paper wrote, likely had detailed knowledge of all workings of the office. You can read the paper’s strongly worded takedown of Conway here. As the paper points out, Plaia isn’t just a good choice compared to Conway: he’s the best man for the job, period.
Plaia, who works as a hearings officer for the Liquor Commission, has a broad work experience that he said “lets him see things from all sides.” He’s adjudicated cases as a hearings officer for the Liquor Commission, worked in law enforcement as a military police officer in the Marine Corps, prosecuted cases for the State Police, Strafford County and Rockingham County, and worked as a public defender and criminal defense attorney.
He said law enforcement in Rockingham County know that change needs to come in the county attorney’s office, and that won’t happen with his opponent.
“The office has failed our police departments, our community, victims of crime and even in rehabilitation of criminals for decades,” he said. “It still brings a 1980s approach and the culture needs to be changed.”
As Foster’s put it, the “county attorney post is about much more than prosecuting cases and throwing people in jail.”
Under Reams, the paper noted, the county jail has become overcrowded leading the county to pay to board prisoners elsewhere.
Plaia has long been an advocate for more alternative sentencing options.
“There’s a need for a mental health court, to expand and utilize the drug court and providing pretrial services to criminals, so we identify problems immediately after someone is arrested rather than getting them into treatment after they’ve been sentenced,” he said.
You can read more about Plaia on his website, joeplaiaforcountyattorney.com. Remember to get out and vote next Tuesday, Nov. 4.