Private defense attorney Korey Leslie will oppose incumbent York County District Attorney Tom Kearney in the Republican primary in May.

Leslie, who owns a practice at 101 S. Duke St., announced his candidacy during a press conference at the York County Judicial Center Thursday.

The 34-year-old Fairview Township man said the first role of an incoming district attorney should be to establish a trusting relationship with law enforcement professionals, something he believes the current administration has not done.

"Unfortunately, that goal has been tempered by lack of respect and trust in York County," Leslie said.

He was joined outside the judicial center with members of the Fraternal Order of Police White Rose Lodge #15, which has endorsed him.

Christopher Perry, who chairs the lodge's political action committee, said city police interviewed Leslie and decided he was the best candidate for the job. They have not met with Kearney, who has not asked for their endorsement, Perry said.

He deferred to Leslie to cite examples of why there's not trust with the current administration.

Leslie said his campaign will build that case, but one example is the early release of criminals, not brought to trial within the time outlined in the statutes, who then "cause more trouble."

Kearney said he applauded Leslie's desire to enter the public arena, but it would have been nice "if he had addressed his concerns with me."

Kearney said his office is currently "having issues with the city," but those issues will be resolved privately, he said. His office otherwise has a good working relationship with law enforcement, he said.

Background: Leslie graduated from Virginia Tech with a bachelor's degree in business in 2000. He graduated from Widener Law in 2003. He's married to Michelle Leslie.

Originally from West Virginia, he has practiced law in York since 2003.

Kearney announced his candidacy for re-election in December at a Republican Club of York County meeting, saying it'll be his final election.

He took office in 2010 after winning the 2009 Republican primary, defeating Stan Rebert after 24 years in the post. He said he's sticking to his pledge to serve no more than two four-year terms.

If elected to a second term, Kearney said his priority will be stemming the drug trade and targeting prevention of gun violence in York.

Kearney, 60, lives in Springettsbury Township with his wife, Diane Breger Kearney. They have three grown children, two sons and a daughter.

He graduated from Red Lion Area Senior High School in 1970; Penn State University in 1973; and the Dickinson School of Law in 1977.

- Reach Christina Kauffman at ckauffman@yorkdispatch.com.