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Voters in the 7th Judicial Circuit, which covers Flagler, Volusia, St. Johns and Putnam counties, will soon be asked to choose between the incumbent or an independent challenger running for state attorney.
That position is designed to oversee the circuit’s legal system, serving as the top prosecutor and changing policies that affect the courts and those accused of crimes.
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Other roles for the state attorney include reviewing use of force incidents, determining whether criminal charges are warranted in a case and determining whether the death penalty is an appropriate punishment to be sought.
The incumbent, R.J. Larizza, is challenged by one independent candidate.
Before you cast your vote, here’s what you need to know about each candidate:
Don Dempsey (NPA)
Don Dempsey said he’s running as a no party affiliation candidate because he doesn’t believe the position should be “indebted or beholding” to any political party. The former prosecutor believes the criminal justice system is broken with a heavy emphasis on incarceration, which he hopes to change by focusing more on diversion programs and common sense sentencing practices. If elected, he plans to create an elderly and vulnerable adult exploitation prevention unit and a white collar crime unit. Click here to learn more about Dempsey.
R.J. Larizza (R)
Incumbent R.J. Larizza is hoping to get elected for a fourth term as the state attorney for the 7th Judicial Circuit, a role he’s filled since being sworn in in January 2009. He told News 6 partner WJXT that he views the safety of residents, smart justice and implementing diversion programs as his three biggest priorities. Larizza has worked in the criminal justice system since 1980 and has experience as a probation officer, a private attorney, a prosecutor and a state attorney. Click here to learn more about Larizza.
Election Day is Nov. 3.