Tonkin Stresses Experience;
Gaughan Says ‘We Need A Change’
MASTHOPE — The Pike County Council of Republican (GOP) Women last week featured Pike District Attorney (DA) Ray Tonkin and primary challenger Attorney Kelly Gaughan as guest speakers at a dinner held at the Summit Restaurant at Masthope in Lackawaxen Township. The two gave their work experience, presented their take on issues, and answered questions.
Tonkin invited the public to learn as much as possible about county DA offices before the May 19 Primary Election because he said, “The community is hiring a district attorney for the next four years.”
Tonkin spoke about his team, comprised of three assistant district attorneys and support staff. He commended the team for performing well and helping to make the community safer during his two terms as DA. Tonkin shared his work experience, including as a police officer for Milford Borough and Westfall Township, as an attorney, assistant DA, and 1st assistant DA, which he said is the chief assistant to the DA.
Tonkin said, “That experience gave me invaluable experience in leading the people in the DA office…We’re not a large office. We’re not Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, or Lancaster.” Nevertheless, in his seven years as DA, he and his team have successfully tried their share of sex assault, drug dealing, robbery, and major capital-murder cases, including the ongoing high-profile case against Eric Frein.
Frein killed one Blooming Grove Barracks Pennsylvania State Police officer and critically wounded another last year. Tonkin said that he has personally been involved in six capital-murder cases, tried five of them, and participated in well over eight jury trials.
Gaughan also presented her credentials. She said, “I want to make Pike County the safest community that can be. Crime is up. We can’t sit still. We need a change.”
Gaughan said that she has law enforcement experience, working as a deputy sheriff in Lackawanna County and interning with the Lackawanna DA, where she helped prepare cases for prosecution. Since 1999, she has worked as an attorney at her law firm. When one of her partners at the firm died in a tragic motor vehicle accident in 2002, she took over some of the partner’s duties, which included family, domestic, and child abuse cases.
Gaughan noted that she would be tough on crime and that her mission would be to make the community safe. Since entering the law firm, she has also been in involved in community service and charitable organizations, especially those that support family, children, and veteran rights. With drug use and crimes rising, Gaughan said that she wants to foster safe communities “by fixing the problem…I want to empower [the community] and make it a safe county. This is my home. This is where my kids are.”
One way Gaughan wants to fix the problem is to facilitate the process by the formation of special courts, two of which would be within the Pike County Court of Common Pleas. She would seek the formation of those courts, a Drug Court (for non-violent crimes) and Veteran Court. Gaughan said that the Drug Court would be an effective tool in addressing what she termed as “the underlying addiction” of repeat offenders.A Veteran Court would address veteran problems at a venue where people could understand veteran problems, she noted.
Gaughan also is committed to seek the formation of a Child Advocacy Center. Such a center would provide children who are victims of child abuse with a one-stop venue dedicated to solving difficult legal issues. Currently victims of abuse have to go through three distinct steps that could be rolled into one through a center. Tonkin noted that he also supports all three venues and is actively working to form a Child Advocacy Center... for complete story, get this week's issue.