Q&A with Janine Edwards,Wayne County’s likely new district attorney
In the May 17 primary, public defender Janine Edwards trounced incumbent district attorney Michael Lehutskty. Edwards received 3,196 votes from Republicans and 623 from Democrats, versus 2,657 and 328 for Lehutsky.
Therefore, absent any unforeseen developments, Edwards will appear on both the Republican and Democratic lines in the November election, and will almost certainly be the next Wayne County DA.
The River Reporter posed six questions to the candidate.
TRR: You lost to your opponent last time. Why did you win this time?
JE: The last time I ran in 2003, there were three of us running in the primary in May. Also, I think that I had an outstanding campaign team this time. We were well organized. We started early and worked hard. The fact that I got to so many community gatherings and met with so many different people made a big difference. I attended many meetings and went door-to-door. The personal contact I experienced was key.
TRR: Why do you want to be DA?
JE: I have two children and I think that Wayne County should be a safe place for them. I think I can do a good job representing victims and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the courtroom. The current DA administered the office and went into the courtroom sometimes. My position in the campaign was that I would be in the courtroom on a regular basis. I love criminal law. That is an area of my specialty. The protection that the Constitution provides for victims and to defendants is a very interesting area. I have practiced law in the county for 15 years and for the last 10 I have served as public defender.
TRR: What will be most important to you in carrying out your duties?
JE: Number one is providing crime victims with justice. I also want to work for the continuing safety of the community. I was endorsed by several law enforcement agencies. I still must earn their respect and deserve the support they gave me. They saw me on a regular basis in and out of court and know what I can do.
TRR: As DA, do you expect to have problems since you are a woman? With judges? With juries?
JE: My record has shown that I am not inhibited in the carrying out of my duties. I do a good job and am respected and I feel that being a woman has never affected that. I have worked with the Court of Common Pleas on a regular basis and my being a woman has never affected my cases. I have appeared before many juries and that has never been an issue. I think juries come in wanting to decide justly in cases and the attorney being a woman has never been a factor. I’ll do my best to get a conviction. That’s my job.
TRR: Many local youths go to college and never return. Why did you return?
JE: The quality of life here is important to me. I was born and raised here. Both my parents were born and raised here. My grandparents came here. The quality of the schools is very important to me. As a mother that is important. I like being close to my family. I like the fact that my father is 10 minutes away and my mother is two minutes away.
TRR: Since your name will appear on both the Democratic and Republican tickets, do you feel it is necessary to campaign?
JE: In politics, you have to constantly keep your connection to voters. I don’t think that ever stops. I don’t think you should campaign just before a primary or just before a general election. The DA’s job is one that is elected and is a public service position. Therefore, I think that you must keep in contact with voters from the most northern part of the county to its most southern part. There are regular events I can go to, like Roots and Rhythm or a breakfast in Newfoundland. I make an effort to meet as many people as I can in all parts of the county. To keep in contact, I am fortunate to have friends, my family and a committee that will keep me abreast to what’s going on. Obviously, I can’t know everything. Luckily, I have those important contacts that will help me connect.