Two Democrats are vying to win the primary for Albany County district attorney. Incumbent David Soares is seeking a sixth term in office, challenged by high-profile defense attorney and former U.S. Marine Lee Kindlon.

Soares’ platform is focused on restoring law and order to a community with one of the highest crime rates in upstate New York.

“The catastrophic reform and its impact is what’s keeping me going and making this race as important as the 2004 race,” said Soares.

Kindlon says the issue of crime is Soares' legacy.

“He promised us that he'd help solve these problems. And here we are 20 years in, and the problems have not only not been solved, but they've grown worse,” said Kindlon.

Soares, however, points to what he calls a broken criminal justice system, blaming recent criminal justice reforms made by state lawmakers for Albany's crime problem.

“Bail reform – what you need to do is you need to give judges their discretion back. You need to allow a judge to consider public safety,” said Soares.

Kindlon says Soares' criticism of bail reform is "misguided fearmongering."

“We can still demand bail of people accused of violent felonies. We can still remand people accused of violent felonies, people accused of domestic violence. Bail – still eligible today. All of those options are in front of a judge. What reform did do, though, is give us so many more options,” said Kindlon.

Both candidates say a state law raising the criminal age of responsibility to 18 has flaws, though, overall. Kindlon says it was a necessary step forward and issues with it can be addressed in court. 

“That's what the judicial branch is for, helping expand this idea of what the legislature passes. Have those arguments in court. Force the judges to make decisions. And if we don't agree with those decisions, then appeal and keep pushing that point,” said Kindlon.

Soares says "Raise the Age" lacks consequences and changes are needed on the state level. 

“I remember when progressive meant that you can be tough on crime and smart on prevention, and that's what progressive was. Now, progressive means you should let a 16-year-old who's apprehended with a loaded firearm go home to be with mom and have, you know, juice and crackers. That's not progressive. That's...that's insane,” said Soares.

Kindlon says changes to the state's discovery laws make cases easier to resolve, while Soares says prosecutors are bogged down prepping information to turn over and need more staff.

Kindlon's campaign has largely focused on integrity within the DA's office. Soares has been questioned for giving himself a more than $22,000 bonus with grant money meant for staff retention, something Kindlon says inspired him to run. Soares says no laws were broken and he returned the money. 

“There's never been an allegation of malfeasance made by anyone. And so this was much ado about nothing. And it was designed to distract, which is why he continues to go back to it,” said Soares.

Asked if voters should be concerned he'll be soft on crime, Kindlon points to other examples of defense attorneys becoming prosecutors in New York. 

“Never once am I going to, you know, have some weird allegiance to this idea that, you know, those individuals charged with crimes should not be brought through the criminal justice system,” said Kindlon.

For more on this race, watch the full debate between the candidates hosted by Capital Tonight’s Susan Arbetter.

Primary voting is June 25.