AUBURN — District Attorney Norman Croteau said his decision to leave a job that he loves has been “extremely difficult” and “bittersweet.”

Croteau, 61, said this week he decided not to seek re-election in 2014 after a yearlong thought process that happened to coincide with his battle with throat cancer.

His decision came only after he had completed surgery, radiation and chemotherapy and had a cancer-free declaration from his doctors.

He said in a recent interview with the Sun Journal that he refused to let his illness dictate whether he would seek re-election. He wanted to make sure he took the time needed without the distraction of his recovery to consider what was best for the office and the citizens in the three counties — Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford — who elected him to that post five times spanning 20 years.

In any elective position there “comes a time to leave, a time for fresh ideas and for new blood,” he said. He added that he’s grateful for the opportunity and privilege of serving.

As the 2014 election approached, Croteau said he began contemplating whether he would seek re-election.

After long-serving Deputy District Attorney Craig Turner retired last year, Croteau tapped as his new second-in-command a seasoned assistant district attorney, Andrew Robinson, from the Franklin County branch office. And it’s Robinson whom Croteau is endorsing to succeed him as district attorney for the tri-county area next year.

“Andrew Robinson is an experienced prosecutor and excellent trial attorney,” Croteau said.

Besides his skill and expertise as a trial lawyer, Robinson has “excellent judgment,” Croteau said. “He wants to do the right thing and has always represented the citizens of this prosecutorial district with integrity and professionalism.”

For his part, Robinson, who’s been with Croteau for 14 years, said getting his boss’s endorsement is akin to getting an A-plus from his favorite teacher.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” he said.

Robinson said, if elected, he would continue Croteau’s legacy of requiring “every one of his prosecutors to be fair-minded and strive to do justice.”

Some things he would do differently include the eventual joining of staff currently divided between 8th District Court in Lewiston and the Androscoggin County Superior Court building as the two courts merge their criminal caseloads. Robinson also would plan to inject more technology into the inner-office workings and try to spend more time in the courtroom trying cases than his boss is able.

Candidates for the office cannot circulate petitions with the state until after Jan. 1.

After finishing up as district attorney, Croteau said he plans to embark on a new career. Although he’s not sure yet what that will be, he hopes it will allow him to put his experience and passion for the job he’s held for two decades to good use.  

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