Albemarle Commonwealth's Attorney candidates state their platforms

ALBEMARLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Ten Albemarle County candidates running for different positions this November got to tell dozens of people their platform Monday night at Stony Point Ruritan Club. Among them were Robert Tracci and Jim Hingeley, the two candidates running for Commonwealth’s Attorney.

Both Tracci, the Republican candidate, and Hingeley, the Democratic candidate, believe some criminals should not be in jail because of certain drug offenses or their mental health, but which criminals fit under that category is what they disagree on.

Hingeley has over 40 years of experience as a lawyer and started the Albemarle-Charlottesville Public Defender Office in 1998. Hingeley's main goal if he were to become the next Commonwealth's Attorney is to reduce mass incarceration.

"A lot of criminal behavior is driven by substance abuse and mental illness,” said Hingeley. “So if we're going to really address criminal behavior then we need to look at those issues."

Hingeley said addressing these problems can reduce people from repeating their crimes, achieve a measure of racial justice, and save money.

"If we can reduce the number of people who are in jails or prisons or the length of time that people are in jails and prisons, we're going to save a lot of money that the community can take and invest in other areas,” said Hingeley. “Things like healthcare and education and so on."

Hingeley said he would want to use programs like drug court and the therapeutic mental health docket more.

Tracci, who is the current Commonwealth's Attorney running for a second term, and who helped lead the establishment of the therapeutic docket last year, said his priority first and foremost is to uphold the law.

"We have to make sure that we indite felony cases when they present themselves in the community,” said Tracci. “Commonwealth's Attornies are executive officers who have an obligation to enforce the law. We cannot disregard felonies. Doing so would be disrespectful to victims of crime."

Tracci said the biggest difference between him and Hingeley is that Hingeley is taking a political stance while he is non-partisan, which he believes is an important trait in a Commonwealth's Attorney.

"I'm not a conservative prosecutor, I'm not a progressive prosecutor, I'm a prosecutor who understands that the role of the prosecutor and Commonwealth’s Attorney is to dutifully and faithfully apply the law," said Tracci.

The last day to register to vote is October 15. The election is on November 5th.

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