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Goodhines sees District Attorney seat as 'a calling'

Date: 4/5/2010

April 5, 2010

By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

LONGMEADOW -- When current District Attorney William Bennett announced his decision not to run for re-election late last year, a number of candidates stepped forward to replace him.

Assistant District Attorney Jim Goodhines believes he is the man to fill that vacancy because he feels "no one else in this race can offer what I offer" -- he is the only candidate who is a career prosecutor.

A Longmeadow resident, Goodhines hails from the Syracuse, N.Y., area. He attended Le Moyne College, earning his bachelor's in English. Goodhines said he always wanted to be a lawyer he's the first in his family to become one -- and that a professor at Le Moyne told him to major in English because being able to communicate is very important in law.

Goodhines earned his law degree from Western New England College School of Law and officially moved to the area in 1992. "I chose Western Mass because I love this area," he said.

He was hired by the District Attorney's office in 1995 as a prosecutor and now has his eyes set on filling Bennett's seat.

"My boss set the bar high. He's one of the finest DAs in the Commonwealth," Goodhines said. "I want to pick up where he left off. Others see the DA retiring as an opportunity -- I see it as a calling."

He added that he believes in the importance of the hard work that's been accomplished by the DA's office during his time there and that it must continue in a dedicated and professional manner. He also strongly believes that the District Attorney's office should "focus on prosecuting, not on politicking."

Goodhines has prosecuted more than 2,000 cases in juvenile, district and superior courts during his career. He's worked as a Special Assistant United States Attorney for the United States Attorney's Office since 2000 and was the co-coordinator for Project Remove, a state and federal gun project that involved a multi-agency ATF task force.

When asked what he thought were the three most important issues that needed to be addressed in the county, Goodhines replied controlling gang, gun and drug violence, preventing domestic violence and creating more community initiatives.

"The number one thing we deal with [in the DA's office] is drugs," Goodhines explained, "and 70 percent of those crimes are done by 7 percent of the criminals. We need to control this. It's what I've been dealing with every day."

As for community outreach, he said, "We need to give people more information, more choices. A lot of the young people I see come through the courts have the same issues: they've only completed school through the eighth grade, they don't live at home, they don't have jobs. They're often young people at the crossroads of life ... I want to help people make the right choices. Nobody wants to become a statistic."

A Democrat, Goodhines took on Brian Lees for Clerk of Courts in 2006, losing the election by just 1 percent of the vote. He said that campaign was a good opportunity for him to meet with voters and connect with people and he plans to do it again this year.

"I made the decision that this is the right time for me," Goodhines said of his run for District Attorney. "The people who supported me before are still supporting me. I think I bring better experience [to this race] than anybody else."

In addition to his work in the DA's office, Goodhines is active in his community. He's a board member of the Longmeadow Educational Excellence Foundation (LEEF); a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission, the Community Preservation Committee and the Longmeadow Democratic Town Committee; a recreation league basketball and soccer coach; and he's served as a delegate to the state Democratic convention for the past five years.

"Voters need to look at my core values," Goodhines told Reminder Publications. "I put people first. I want to improve public safety and the quality of life for those in Hampden County."