Two Candidates and an Empty Chair
On Monday at the meeting of the Palm Beach County Tea Party in Wellington, two of the three candidates for State Attorney answered questions posed by moderator David DiCrescenzo and described themselves as professional prosecutors – not politicians lacking relevant skills in the courtroom. The empty chair, intended to be occupied by former State Senator Dave Aronberg (the “politician” to which the others referred on occasion), did not have a lot to say. Even Clint Eastwood would have had a hard time with that one.
The candidates, Republican Dina Keever and Independent Robert Gershman sounded similar themes. Neither had a political axe to grind and would enter the office without strings. They considered protecting the community and obtaining fair and just outcomes as the primary role of the office. Both highlighted their extensive courtroom experience on high profile cases – Keever as a federal prosecutor in Florida and Pennsylvania, Gershman as both a prosecutor in the SA office as well as a defense attorney. They distanced themselves from Aronberg who has described himself as a “CEO” who “doesn’t have to know how to make coffee to run Starbucks”.
They were asked about 12 questions, on topics ranging from their approach to corruption fighting, relationship to the Sheriff’s office, attitudes towards the death penalty, low conviction rates in the county, and their attitude towards the Constitution.
On the issue of qualifications for the office (CEO vs experienced prosecutor), Dina Keever said flat out that “Dave Aronberg is not qualified” for the office. They both thought that political experience (although necessary to obtain the office) would not be the tool of choice while on the job.
Each was asked what was the most difficult or memorable case in their experience. Robert Gershman listed his role as the defense on the Dunbar Village rape case and the turnpike killings. In each case, although the defense lost, a fair and just verdict was reached and the trial was fair. Dina Keever listed her work on the prosecution of a bank robber in Philadelphia who had escaped justice twice before. She was able to get a conviction mainly based on a witness identification of the defendant’s voice.
This race has received a lot of media attention in the past few months given the allegations of behind the scenes activities by Mr. Aronberg and his party, raised by the Palm Beach Post and others. Given the importance of the State Attorney’s Office in fighting corruption in the county, any suggestion of impropriety that is not immediately answered should be disqualifying. Either of these two candidate would pass muster in that regard.
For the Post view of the event, see: Keever, Gershman debate issues, experience at forum on State Attorney’s Office race; Aronberg a no-show
Some pictures from the event: