Dave Sunday takes York County DA race

Written by Dylan Segelbaum/The York Daily Record | May 17, 2017 4:20 AM

Dave Sunday.(Photo: Submitted)

Barring a successful write-in campaign or third-party candidate, Sunday, 41, of Carroll Township, will be elected on Nov. 7.

(York) -- Dave Sunday won the Republican primary for district attorney on Tuesday by a more than three-point margin, almost ensuring that he will become the next chief law enforcement officer of York County.

Sunday, a chief deputy prosecutor in the York County District Attorney's Office, received 51.68 percent -- or 13,894 votes. His opponent, Jonelle Harter Eshbach, a civil practice and criminal defense attorney at Eveler & DeArment LLP in Windsor Township, got 48.26 percent, or 12,975 votes, according to unofficial results from the York County Department of Elections and Voting Registration.

"I didn't win this race," said Sunday, 41, of Carroll Township, to a cheering crowd of supporters at Central Market House in York. "We won this race."

The district attorney is elected to four-year terms and will make $177,868 in 2017. District Attorney Tom Kearney, who took office in 2010, is retiring after two terms.

No Democrats ran for DA. So barring a successful write-in campaign or third-party candidate, Sunday will be elected on Nov. 7.

Sunday is a U.S. Navy veteran and one of the co-founders of the York County Heroin Task Force, which has since transitioned into a public-private partnership called the York Opioid Collaborative. He's worked in the District Attorney's Office since 2009.

Prior to becoming a prosecutor, he was a law clerk for Common Pleas Judge Joseph C. Adams from 2008 to 2009. Sunday worked at UPS Inc. from 1999 to 2007, at which he said he eventually managed an annual budget of about $200 million.

Eshbach conceded the race in a phone call.

"Both sides ran a very good race," said George H. Margetas, Eshbach's local campaign coordinator. "I wish him the best and congratulate him and all of his supporters."

During the campaign, the candidates sparred over the idea of experience.

Eshbach touted her 24 years as a prosecutor between the District Attorney's Office and the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office, at which she supervised the grand jury investigation into former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. Meanwhile, Sunday argued that he was on the frontlines taking on the No. 1 issue facing the community: heroin and opioid addiction.

They also debated about the schism between the York County Drug Task Force and the York City Police Department.

But on other issues, Eshbach and Sunday appeared to be in agreement. Both, for example, said they supported the use of mandatory minimum sentences.

While the results were coming in, Sunday and several of his supporters, including campaign manager Joel Ogle, huddled around a laptop set up at Mezzogiorno. Music ranging from "Love Shack" by the B-52's to fun.'s 2012 hit "We Are Young" played over a public address system.

At 9:43 p.m., with 78 of 159 precincts reporting, unofficial election results showed Eshbach ahead by about 3 percent. They did not update on York County's website for about one hour.

But just before 11 p.m., fresh numbers came in. With almost all the votes now tallied, Sunday was in the lead.

Then, 20 minutes later, Ogle looked up from the laptop. "You won," he said. Sunday high-fived and embraced supporters, as well as his wife, Lishani.

Coroner Pam Gay, one of the co-founders of the York County Heroin Task Force, supported and campaigned for Sunday in the primary. It was very important, she said, for the work being done with the York Opioid Collaborative to continue.

Said Gay: "We're just thrilled with how it worked out."

This story is part of a partnership between WITF and the York Daily Record.

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