ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The debate between Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert Tracci and challenger Jim Hingley, hosted by the League of Women Voters at the county office building, was highly anticipated.
Controversy the day before over whether or not Tracci would be at the debate only made it more intense.
Tracci is currently the Albemarle Commonwealth’s Attorney and is running for re-election against Hingeley.
In a public letter to Hingeley, Tracci had requested the debate be moved to a different time and place, but Thursday confirmed he would be attending.
Hingeley called Tracci's request a "Donald Trump-like spectacle,” and that set the tone for the rest of the debate.
"This is a page out of Donald Trump's playbook,” said Hingeley. “It was designed to create a media circus and it did. The purpose was to distract and deflect attention away from the real issues of this campaign."
Tracci fired back.
"You notice my opponent took about seven seconds to start talking about me,” said Tracci. “I don't know what political advice he's receiving but it's not good. I'm here to talk about my record, my commitment to Albemarle County citizens, and voters."
The two candidates continued to disagree on many points, such as community review boards of the police and prosecutor's office.
"I favor community oversight of the police,” said Hingeley, “but also, I favor community oversight of the prosecutor’s office. And as part of my platform, I intend to establish a community oversight committee to hold the prosecutors office accountable."
Tracci believed it to be a bad idea.
"Having a group of people looking over every prosecution decision,” said Tracci, “and asking for access to personal and confidential files related to law enforcement, doesn't seem like a prudent idea in my perspective."
The two did agree on some things, such as using discretion on keeping juveniles in juvenile court and disfavoring cash bails. However, Tracci said their fundamental values are different.
"I make no apology for prosecuting cases brought by our outstanding police department and our law enforcement partners,” said Tracci. “That's what a Commonwealth's Attorney does."
Hingeley owned up to being progressive.
"Mr. Tracci says I'm a self-identified progressive. Okay that's true,” said Hingeley. “Look at the ideas that I have and the things that I'm saying about how I would perform the duties of office if I'm elected as prosecutor. Not the label that's attached to me."
Despite Tracci’s earlier concerns about disruption, Sue Lewis, the moderator on behalf of the League of Women Voters, made sure the two candidates stuck to their time and did not interrupt each other. The crowd stuck to Lewis’ rule of keeping silent and only showing support by raising their hands.