Jeanne Sager | Democrat
JIM FARRELL MADE clear his bid to be the next district attorney would not be possible without the support of his family, including son Douglas, (above leaning in for a hug from dad), daughter Kelsey and wife Nicole.
Lungen to step down, endorses Farrell
By Jeanne Sager
MONTICELLO Nearly three decades of meting out justice from the prosecutor’s office will come to an end for District Attorney Steve Lungen this year.
He’s counting on the voters to ensure his legacy continues.
Lungen tied his retirement announcement Wednesday afternoon to his endorsement of Lake Huntington resident Jim Farrell, Lungen’s chief assistant district attorney and candidate for the Republican nomination.
The conference on the front steps of the county courthouse in Monticello Wednesday afternoon fell on the warmest day of the year thus far, just after the sun broke through the clouds.
“It started out as cloudy and overcast, but the sun is shining and it must be for a reason,” Lungen said to a packed crowd of county politicians, residents and representatives of each of the county’s law enforcement departments.
“Today marks the beginning of the end of my tenure after 28 years as Sullivan County District Attorney,” Lungen said. “I want to state how privileged I have been to hold this important office these last 28 years. It’s been challenging and a rewarding experience and has more than fulfilled my life’s goal to serve the public.”
Lungen said he’s ready, and the time is right for his next venture. It’s time, too, for the community to look to the future.
“Sullivan County needs and experienced and proven district attorney. There is no time for on-the-job training,” Lungen said. “The incoming DA must be qualified, competent and experienced to handle the job. These criteria I call the right stuff.”
Farrell, an Orange County native and graduate of Albany Law School, came to the Sullivan County DA’s office 14 years ago from private practice in Vermont.
A Town of Cochecton resident, he purchased a home in the county 11 year ago, and along with wife Nicole, is raising his two kids in the Sullivan West School District.
He could have put in three years in the DA’s office, then followed the lucrative path back to private practice. Instead, Farrell stayed, Lungen said, and the county has been the better for it.
“Being qualified for the district attorney’s job is not about being a nice guy or having a lot of money or being a good politician or just wanting the position. It requires experience, character, competence and integrity and one must earn those qualifications through years of experience, by paying their dues in the trenches, in the courtroom every day as a prosecutor.
“After 28 years, I believe that I have a fairly good perspective of what the work of a district attorney entails and what qualities and traits a person ought to have to take on this most responsible position,” Lungen continued. “There is no one and I say this with all sincerity who is considering the district attorney’s position that even comes close to Jim’s level of experience and his qualifications.”
As the county looks toward November and the campaign season, Lungen said he could step back and let politics play out.
“But politics has no place in the district attorney’s office.
“That is why I believe Jim Farrell is the best person to become the next district attorney. In short, Jim possesses all the right stuff.”
Thanking Lungen for his endorsement, Farrell vowed to serve the community just as he has for the past 14 years.
“As Steve said, unlike most attorneys, my career path did not leap from three years in private practice to the DA’s office,” he noted. “In fact, I took the reverse course! Practicing for two years in Rutland, VT, in a partnership track where I could have stayed and, as Steve indicated made a little bit of money.
“Might have made my wife happier,” he added to laughter. “But I didn’t do that. I got back to what I wanted to do with my life, and that is serve the people.
“Over the last 13 years, I’ve had the privilege, the honor, to hold the position of assistant district attorney and now chief assistant district attorney, serving the people of this county, making a difference in the lives of the people who live here.”
“I know the work that I do makes a difference in people’s lives. I can sleep well at night when I go home knowing that I’m making a difference and I’m doing the people’s work.”
Farrell is one of two Republicans who have thrown their name in the ring for the nomination. Liberty attorney Michael McGuire has also expressed interest which could force a primary to determine the Republican candidate who will be on the ballot in November.