Originally published in The Rye City Review, November 11, 2016.
By Andrew Dapolite
Democrat Anthony Scarpino will be taking over the office of Westchester County district attorney after a decisive victory against Republican Bruce Bendish on Tuesday.
As polling results flowed into election headquarters at The Coliseum in White Plains, Scarpino held an impressive early lead, ultimately capturing 70 percent of the nearly 345,000 votes that were cast.
“I was caught a little bit off guard,” Scarpino told the Review on Wednesday morning. “I was cautiously optimistic that I was going to win because of the enrollment, but the numbers were overwhelming.” According to Westchester County’s voter rolls, there are roughly 152,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans in the county.
At the center of this year’s race for the county’s top law enforcement position was the question of qualifications.
In contrast, Bendish served as an assistant district attorney in Westchester County for 14 years before opening a private practice for criminal defense.
Throughout the campaign, Scarpino was often attacked by his opponent for not having tried cases in a courtroom, which he called a mischaracterization of his record.
“It’s one thing to say, ‘You were not a prosecutor in a case,’ because I was not a DA,” Scarpino said, “but being a trial judge, you try cases.”
Scarpino also countered that Bendish had not served as a real law enforcement officer.
“I had a baseball coach when I was growing up, that used to say that everybody has a hole in their swing,” Scarpino said. “Everybody’s resume is short. Bruce Bendish was never a trial judge. Jeanine Pirro was a DA, but she was a judge first. Janet DiFiore was also a judge before she became DA. Judicial experience counts.”
According to Scarpino, the issues that he plans to address in his new role include Westchester’s heroin and illegal drug epidemic—a situation he described as “a scourge that is destroying our youth”—as well as Internet predators, phone scams, child and elder abuse, domestic violence, and injustices against immigrants who he believes are preyed upon by people who take advantage of their fear of deportation.
Bendish, while disappointed with the results, cited the voter registration disadvantage coupled with a high voter turnout in a presidential year as contributing to his campaign’s demise.
“I think if you look at the tallies of the polls in a non-presidential year, things are quite different,” Bendish said. “But I congratulate Anthony Scarpino on his victory and it is my hope that he will have success as the next Westchester County district attorney.”