WATCH: Erie County District Attorney debate at St. Joe’s

Erie County District Attorney candidates John Flynn (left) and Joe Treanor (right).

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Erie County District Attorney candidates John Flynn Jr. and Joseph Treanor III debated at St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute in Buffalo on Tuesday morning, each trying to convince the gym full of students and staff that he is the best man for the job.

Watch the entire debate in the video below.

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St. Joe’s sponsors political debates like this every year, featuring candidates from one of the most interesting local races at the time. Organizers say it makes no difference that most of the high schoolers in the audience aren’t old enough to vote.

“My students are very much involved politically,” said Ted Lina, who has moderated the debates at St. Joe’s every year since the early 1980s. “They will vote, and what was said here this morning will be remembered for several years.”

Lina admitted this debate was a challenge, because the race for the district attorney’s office is usually less political than other races.

“This one was a little less exciting than some in the past. There weren’t as many of some of those big jab moments,” recalled senior Jesse Brodka,who served on the panel of students asking candidates questions this year after observing other debates in his earlier years at St. Joe’s.

Even without a lot of big fireworks moments, though, the students were paying close attention.

And, the candidates took the opportunity very seriously, as they laid out their views on everything from budget and campaign finance issues, to the relationship between prosecutors and police, to how the DA’s office can help address the opioid crisis in our community.

From the Republican ticket, students heard from Joe Treanor, a decorated Air Force veteran who retired as a colonel from the Judge Advocate General’s office after 28 years of service. He now works pro bono representing local veterans.

Democrat John Flynn is also a military man. He currently serves as a JAG commander in the Naval Reserves, as well as a private attorney and the town attorney for Tonawanda. Flynn is also a former homicide prosecutor and city court judge.

“I have been, basically, a jack-of-all-trades in the legal world that gives me the experience to do this job,” Flynn told the students at St. Joe’s on Tuesday.

“I’m a prosecutor. I’m not a politician, and I never will be one. And I make no apologies for that,” Treanor said.

The students who saw the debate said they were impressed by what they heard from the candidates, and they said they were grateful for the experience, especially those who were members of the student panel that got to ask questions and serve as fact checkers during the debate.

“I’ve been looking forward to this day ever since I came in as a freshman and my first debate,” said senior Ben Bryan. “This has always been something interesting.  I said I want to be up there.”

“It was kind of nerve wracking being up here in front of everybody asking the questions, but it was good to see them go back and forth and see their differing views,” said Seth Glanowski, another St. Joe’s senior.

The candidates for Erie County District Attorney will explain their views in another debate later this week. You can watch Tuesday’s full debate by clicking on the video below. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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