Democratic challenger wins Rensselaer Co. DA race


Mary Pat Donnelly was elected the Rensselaer County District Attorney Tuesday night, defeating the Republican incumbent Joel Abelove.

Abelove said the race came down to experience, but he had to tackle a rough first term.

“I hope the people of Rensselaer County vote for the candidate who has experience, extensive experience at that,” said Abelove.

Among the top issues was the turnover rate inside his office as well as accusations of mishandling some cases. Abelove was accused of mishandling the Edson Thevenin case, in which Thevenin was shot by an officer during a traffic stop in Troy in 2016. The New York Attorney General’s office charged Abelove with misconduct and perjury following an investigation in to the matter. The charges were dropped in June. Abelove had called the accusations related to the case a political witch hunt.

Donnelly was declared the winner 56 percent to 44 percent with 77 percent of precincts reporting.

Following her win, Donnelly says her first order of business will be restoring and filling empty positions within the DA’s office.

“There are a lot of dropped cases and a lot of ADAs walking out the door,” said Donnelly. “We need to get into the office, speak to the staff as soon as that’s appropriate and find out where they fit in going forward. Then we’re gonna get into those file cabinets and get to work.” 

When the returning numbers began to confirm fears of an upset, the candidate abruptly left his own election viewing party early without any comment or concesion . Abelove’s campaign staff congratulated Donnelly on her victory and said they look forward to coming together to work for the betterment of Rensselaer County.


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