1. Provide a brief professional and personal background.
I am a graduate of the Clearfield Area High School and Washington & Jefferson College, and I earned my Juris Doctorate from Duquesne University School of Law.
I currently have my own law practice in Clearfield and serve as president of the Clearfield County Bar Association. Prior to opening my own office, I was with the firm of Naddeo & Lewis LLC.
In addition to my private practice work, I serve as both an adult and juvenile conflict counsel, appointed by the court. I have served in this capacity since obtaining my license to practice law in Pennsylvania.
During law school, I interned with the Honorable Judge Schwab in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, and prior to that, with the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See in Rome, Italy.
As a way to give back to the community, I serve numerous charitable organizations throughout Clearfield County to include: president of the Good Samaritan Center, former president of the Clearfield YMCA, solicitor for the Bucktail Council (Boy Scouts of America), solicitor for the Greater Clearfield Chamber of Commerce, solicitor for the Clearfield Education Foundation, solicitor for St. Francis Parish and a board member of CAST.
I believe that helping and mentoring youth is important to our county. I am a Boy Scout merit badge counselor, former lodge advisor for the Order of the Arrow (Ah’Tic Lodge) and advisor for the Chamber’s Exploring Program in the Clearfield and Curwensville School Districts.
I am an Eagle Scout (2003), and as well, have been honored with the Duquesne University Mind, Heart, and Spirit Award (2013), the Clearfield Chamber Director’s Choice Award (2017) and the Boy Scout’s Silver Beaver Award (2018).
I am the son of Paul and Therese Sayers of Frenchville. I am a parishioner and choir member of St. Francis Church, a member of the Clearfield Choral Society and an avid outdoorsman that enjoys hunting, hiking, camping and kayaking.
2. Why did you choose to run for the office of Clearfield County District Attorney?
It is evident that there is a drug epidemic across both the Commonwealth and our county, with Clearfield being significantly worse than others in Pennsylvania. I believe that combating this plague starts with the office of District Attorney.
I am running to be the next District Attorney of Clearfield County because I have the experience and motivation necessary to work with the Court, criminal attorneys, commissioners, law enforcement officers and staff to curtail the drugs and crime that are prevalent in our county.
I was born in Clearfield County and have made it a point to serve numerous civic organizations in our community. I have done this because I am genuinely concerned about our communities and want the best for future generations.
As the chief prosecutor of crimes and also an educator, the District Attorney plays a key role in shaping the future of our county. I want to continue my service to Clearfield County as District Attorney.
3. How many cases have you tried in court?
Since getting my law license, I have handled numerous civil and criminal cases. I am in the courtroom multiple times per week for hearings where I have to question and cross examine witnesses, enter exhibits of record and make arguments on behalf of my clients.
4. What was the most challenging case you tried and how did you navigate through it?
Ethically I cannot disclose details of my clients or cases. However, there are several criminal and Children Youth and Family Service cases that have challenged me both personally and as an attorney. The facts of those cases were terrible and will be with me for the rest of my life.
That being said, I keep in the forefront of my mind that I took the Attorney’s Oath where I stood before the Judge and swore to, “support, obey, and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of this Commonwealth…” Our Constitutions protect citizens’ rights and require that they have their day in court. It is my duty to represent them to the best of my ability.
5. If elected, what would be your top priority as Clearfield county District Attorney?
My top priority as District Attorney would be to change the current policy relating to prosecution of drug cases in Clearfield County.
I would work with the judges, commissioners, probation department, law enforcement and counselors to institute a Drug Court program, which has proved to be successful in getting low level drug users the help they need to be productive members of society, while saving the taxpayers money on costs associated with the criminal justice system.
Additionally, I would make it clear to criminals and defense attorneys that if a person is caught selling, manufacturing or distributing hard drugs in this county, my office will be pushing for that person to do time in state prison, and not in our overcrowded county jail.
6. What are the greatest challenges facing the District Attorney’s Office? If elected, how would you overcome them?
There are two major challenges currently facing the District Attorney’s Office. The first is the low number of cases that move to trial through the DA’s office.
Many times, cases are not taken to trial—deals are cut and charges lessened to get a conviction. If elected, I will not be afraid to take cases to trial and ensure that the Assistant District Attorneys follow suit.
Secondly, like most offices in the county, there are budgeting issues and overall funding concerns. As District Attorney, I will work with the commissioners and grant writers to ensure that the District Attorney’s Office and law enforcement have the resources necessary to handle criminal cases in Clearfield County.
7. How can the District Attorney play a role in addressing the Opioid Crisis?
A main priority of the District Attorney should be to prosecute to the fullest the cases where individuals distribute, manufacture and sell hard drugs in our county.
The District Attorney’s office should not negotiate plea deals or lessen the charges and sentences for these individuals. With the help of law enforcement, we need to make it clear that Clearfield County is closed for business to those trafficking and selling these drugs.
If you commit a hard-drug related crime in this county, then you should do hard time in state prison, not in our county jail.
Secondly, the District Attorney should be working with the judges, commissioners and the probation department to institute a Drug Court for low-level users.
Approximately two-thirds of the counties in Pennsylvania have a Drug Court program that helps individuals break their addiction and become productive members of society, rather than just incarcerating them.
The success rate of these programs makes it advantageous for both the criminal justice system and citizens of Clearfield County.
8. In what ways can a District Attorney positively impact such things as addiction and mental illnesses through the cases they are prosecuting?
The District Attorney can work with the judges, commissioners and other courthouse departments to institute specialized courts, like Drug Court, Mental Health Court and Veterans Court.
These specialized courts are proven ways to help people with addiction or mental health issues, as well as helping to save Clearfield taxpayers the costs associated with incarcerating these low-level offenders.
Additionally, the District Attorney serves as an educator. It is important for the DA to be in our schools to speak to students about how decisions they make when they are young can lead to problems in their future.
As the advisor of the Greater Clearfield Chamber of Commerce’s Exploring Program, I have personal experience conveying to students in Clearfield County that there are serious repercussions to drug use and abuse.
9. What specific efforts can the District Attorney positively impact such things as addiction and mental illnesses through the cases they are prosecuting?
It is imperative for the District Attorney and the Assistant District Attorneys to send a clear message to those that commit crimes in this county that we are going to be tough.
The entirety of the District Attorney’s office must be ready to take these cases to trial. They must not negotiate pleas or lesser charges simply to secure a conviction.
Additionally, the DA’s Office must work closely with law enforcement, providing them the resources and support necessary to combat criminals in our communities.
Combating the plague of drugs in our communities will not be resolved overnight. However, as District Attorney, I will work to ensure that our communities are clean and safe places for all residents.
10. What do you think makes you the better candidate for Clearfield County District Attorney?
In addition to my experience, I have a fresh perspective and new ideas for managing the Criminal Justice System in Clearfield County. As a candidate that does not currently work for the District Attorney, I have a unique viewpoint.
It is imperative that our system in Clearfield County does not become complacent because “that is the way it has always been done.”
I will embrace new ideas, policies and procedures that will make the Office of District Attorney function more efficiently, while prosecuting criminals to the fullest extent, making Clearfield County a better place to live and work.
That is why I am asking for your vote in May and November to be the next District Attorney of Clearfield County.