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April 20, 2014

Five announce candidacy for Rockingham Co. attorney

All agree new leadership is needed in Rockingham County Attorney's office

Suspended Rockingham County Attorney James Reams may be returning to his job, but it won’t be for long.

Already, a handful of Southern New Hampshire attorneys are seeking his $85,000-a-year post once the scandal-plagued county attorney leaves office in January after 16 years.

Four Republicans and a single Democrat are vying for the top prosecutor’s job in Rockingham County, saying they will restore credibility to an office dogged by allegations of sexual harassment and mismanagement against Reams.

Three of the GOP candidates have worked in the office, including two who served with Reams. They say they know what it takes to run the 41-employee office and manage its $3.2 million annual budget.

But others say the office needs outside leadership to help turn it around.

The Republican candidates are Assistant County Attorney Patricia Conway of Salem, Assistant Hillsborough County Attorney Michael Zaino of Hampton, Salem Police Department prosecutor Jason Grosky of Atkinson and Michael DiCroce of Fremont, a prosecutor for several area police departments.

So far, the only Democratic candidate is Joseph Plaia of Portsmouth, a chief hearings officer for the New Hampshire Liquor Commission. He is a former public defender and state police prosecutor.

The winner of the GOP primary in September will face off against the Democratic victor in the election Nov. 4. The filing period for the two-year post doesn’t close until June 13.

Each candidate has different goals, but they all agree change is needed. Each insists they would bring positive change to an office under siege.

“It’s been under a dark cloud over the last several months,” said Grosky, 37. “I think there is a big public perception challenge for the next county attorney. No one should have to look at and wonder about the county attorney and that office.”

Reams was suspended Nov. 6 and stripped of his prosecutorial authority by Attorney General Joseph Foster in the wake of an investigation involving the FBI.

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