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Sun., Nov. 23
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Serving the communities of Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Lewis counties, New York
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Proof will be in the preparation

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If she can transform the energy she displayed in campaigning for the office into running it, Mary E. Rain could prove an effective district attorney in St. Lawrence County.

Unofficial results show she defeated incumbent District Attorney Nicole M. Duve in Tuesday’s election. Ms. Rain showed an aggressive nature that hopefully can put to good use in prosecuting criminals.

The drawback to this form of politics, however, is that it turned the race into a bitter experience for both candidates and their supporters. Ms. Rain will have many fences to mend if she is to get the cooperation she needs.

And this will be an uphill challenge for Ms. Rain, the Republican candidate. The St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators is dominated by Democrats, and she beat one of their own.

This is not to suggest this race centered on party ideology. There have been obvious signs that the county’s prosecutorial capabilities have malfunctioned under Ms. Duve’s tenure, and the election showed that voters want a change.

Throughout her campaign, Ms. Duve made much of how hard she and her staff members work to bring criminals to justice. But no one has questioned her work ethic. The issue is how effectively she has managed the district attorney’s office.

Ms. Duve couldn’t bring herself to identity one of the major problems in her administration of this agency. She and her staff members were often woefully ill-prepared for the cases they had when they walked into court. Ms. Duve is to be commended for her dedication to her job, but after eight years the voters declared that she was simply not up to the task.

Ms. Rain said she has a plan for improving the efficient management of criminal cases, particularly felonies. If she is able to pull it off, this will be good news.

The downside for staff members is that part of her plan calls for them to resign their positions and reapply for the jobs they now hold. Ms. Rain can then evaluate each staffer individually and determine who would be the best fit within her administrative structure.

We wish Ms. Rain all the best with this approach, and it may work out. But she will have to produce signs of improved training on the part of her assistant district attorneys in the near future.

This won’t necessarily have to mean the successful prosecution of the Garrett J. Phillips murder. Tragically, it’s anyone’s guess where this case involving the 2011 death of the 12-year-old boy is headed.

Results will manifest themselves in how better prepared Ms. Rain’s staffers are to handle the cases they have been assigned. Improved case management will lead to more convictions, and then voters will know if they made the right choice this week.

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