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Somerset County Sheriff candidate Darrin Russo.

Parenti, Russo spar over opioid treatment program

Each candidate accuses other of playing politics

By Nikita Biryukov, September 17 2019 7:07 pm

Democratic Somerset County Sheriff candidate Darrin Russo repeated an attack against his Republican opponent, Bill Parenti, that claimed Parenti was using a proposed opioid addiction treatment program to win votes.

“Imagine the number of lives that we could have saved if programs to treat addiction were implemented years ago,” Russo said. “It’s a shame that the Republican candidate for Sheriff didn’t use his current chief’s position to help the residents of this county and now he is scrambling to come up with ideas because he is running for office.”

When confronted with the charge during a debate hosted by the League of Women Voters of the Greater New Brunswick Area, Parenti said he did not implement the program during his years as North Plainfield police chief because he was not running for sheriff then.

The program is modeled after one that Rhode Island instituted in 2016.

Parenti turned Russo’s attack into one of his own, criticizing the Democrat for attacking him over a program that has proven successful in the Ocean State.

“Last night, Russo spoke frequently about how critical the public’s trust in law enforcement is,” Parenti said. “Voters are asking how they can trust a candidate who attacks good ideas that save lives, who rips off taxpayers when they aren’t looking, who supports an unaccountable civilian police director, and who is best known for his ‘reckless disregard for the truth.’”

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