Herald Journal - Voters' Guide 2010
Herald Journal / Dassel-Cokato Enterprise Dispatch / Delano Herald Journal

Carver County Attorney

Two people have filed for the position of attorney for Carver County; Jim Keeler and Mark Metz.

Jim Keeler

Why are you running for office?

I am currently the Carver County Attorney. I want to continue to be, because it is an excellent opportunity to continue serving the public. I have dedicated my entire career to serving the public.

Being county attorney is an important job – a job that has the potential to impact many people’s lives in the community in which I live. I have a vision for this office. The county is poised to grow rapidly as the economy recovers.

The citizens of Carver County deserve serious and experienced leadership. Because of that, I believe that someone with experience, common sense and good judgment should lead the Carver County Attorney’s Office. I believe I am that person.

What do you think are two major issues at this time, and what do you propose to do about them?

My two priorities as Carver County Attorney are:

• protecting the public – As Carver County Attorney, my primary responsibility is to protect the public. I have devoted my career to working with citizens, schools, and law enforcement to prevent crime, and to vigorously prosecute criminals. I will continue to do this as county attorney.

Additionally, my experience as a child protection and juvenile delinquency prosecutor reinforced my strong belief that our children are our future. That is why I’m committed to and focused on keeping children safe, so they can learn and grow, free of neglect and violence.

• fiscal responsibility and accountability – as county attorney, it’s my job to be a good steward of the taxpayers’ dollars.

For the last three years, I have effectively managed a $2.8 million budget and 30 staff. In response to the current economy, I reduced staff without impacting the quality of service the county attorney office provides to the public.

By using technology, I have been able to hold the line on the budget, while maintaining the highest level of service to the citizens of Carver County. I hold myself and my staff to high standards.

Why should you be elected?

I should be elected because I have the experience, integrity, and common sense required to lead the county attorney’s office.

I have lived in Carver County for more than 20 years. This is my community.

I have dedicated my career to serving and protecting the public. During my 22-year career as a prosecuting attorney, I have conducted more than 80 jury trials.

I have confronted some of Minnesota’s most violent criminals. I have worked with many dedicated law enforcement professionals and courageous crime victims.

I manage a $2.8 million budget and 30 staff members. I have managed this budget through an economic crisis – and had to make tough decisions. I make budget decisions thoughtfully, and I rely on my good judgment and the advice of our county leadership to help make these decisions.

This race is about change and the future. This county is poised to grow rapidly as the economy recovers. Will we as a county embrace growth and the opportunities that it brings, or will we be paralyzed by it? Will your county attorney be proactive or reactive to this change?

My record for the past three years demonstrates that I have a vision for the office and the experience and judgment to carry it out. I have a record that you can look to – to guide your decision in whom you want to lead the county attorney’s office for the next four years.

I have always been a prosecutor – I’ve never wavered in my commitment. I discovered early on that I much prefer holding criminals accountable, and speaking on behalf of crime victims.

I’ve transitioned from the courtroom to the county attorney’s office because that’s what this job requires. It requires leadership.

I am humbled by the trust that the county board placed in me in 2007, and I am grateful for the relationships that I have made throughout the county – east and west – over the past three years.

I ask that you vote for me, Jim Keeler, for Carver County Attorney Tuesday, Nov. 2.

Mark Metz

Why are you running for office?

I want to be Carver County Attorney because I care about the county attorney’s office and what it is supposed to stand for.

It has been disappointing to me, and many others in the court system, to see the direction of the current leadership of the Carver County Attorney.

I want to restore the reputation of the office through hard work, good judgment, and humility.

I want to be the county attorney of the people and seek justice on your behalf by personally prosecuting cases. The chief prosecutor should roll up his or her sleeves, get into the courtroom, and fight for justice. That is what I have done my entire career on a daily basis, and will continue to do as the Carver County Attorney.

The current county attorney was not elected. He was appointed by the commissioners after the Honorable Mike Fahey was appointed to be a judge.

This election is a great opportunity for the citizens of Carver County to elect their own county attorney, who will work hard and prosecute cases.

The current county attorney has not tried a single case since he was appointed three years ago. Former Carver County Attorney Mike Fahey prosecuted cases and tried cases. McLeod County Attorney Mike Junge prosecutes and tries cases.

During these economic times, we cannot afford to have the county attorney not prosecuting cases. I will personally prosecute and try cases.

What do you think are the two major issues at this time, and what do you propose to do about them?

The two major issues, as it relates to the Carver County Attorney’s Office, are the fiscal responsibility of government, and alcohol and drug abuse in the community.

While campaigning, the consistent message from citizens is that they want their tax dollars to be spent wisely. In particular, they want government employees and elected officials to do the work that the citizens pay them to do.

This election allows the citizens to elect their own county attorney who will be responsible to the citizens, work hard, reduce the budget, and actually prosecute cases.

I will immediately reduce the budget by more than $100,000 by selecting the chief deputy from an experienced attorney in the office who will handle cases. That attorney will not be replaced, thus saving a high-paid attorney salary plus benefits. The duties of that attorney will be handled by the new county attorney, new chief deputy, and division managers.

This is an actual, significant, and sustainable savings to the taxpayer. This will directly enhance the effective and efficient administration of cases.

Coupled with this approach, every attorney in the county attorney’s office will handle cases, including the county attorney. I will personally lead the way by trying cases.

The other major issue is alcohol and drug abuse. Roughly 90 percent of all crime is fueled by alcohol and drug abuse.

This abuse often begins at an early age, so we need to focus on education, prevention, and treatment. The challenge is to reach our youth at an early age and educate them about the consequences of abuse.

The county attorney should be engaged in educating the public, and I intend to host forums at schools within the county on a monthly basis.

I will work closely with law enforcement and the criminal justice system to come up with alternatives to addressing this issue.

While I support tougher penalties for serious, violent, and repeat offenders, I believe that treatment plays an important role in our system. Treatment is not only for the individual offender, but also for all of society. Treatment is the best way to integrate offenders back into society.

The county attorney can be at the forefront, by creating a team approach with the communities, law enforcement, the court system, the offenders, and their families.

Why should you be elected?

I have earned the respect of judges, attorneys, county attorney employees, law enforcement, court administrative employees, victims, and even defendants.

I am confident that with my experience, passion, reputation, and leadership style, I am the most well-rounded and best candidate.

I have spent my entire career working in the court system. I prosecuted for seven and one-half years in the McLeod County Attorney’s Office, and four years in the Carver County Attorney’s Office.

After seeing the direction of the leadership of the current county attorney for two and one-half years, I left the office and started my own law practice in Victoria. It is time for a change in leadership.

I have prosecuted every kind of criminal case, from murder to speeding. I have successfully argued two cases at the Minnesota Supreme Court. I have handled juvenile prosecution, child protection, child support, and other civil cases while at the McLeod County Attorney’s Office.

I have been actively involved in teaching. At William Mitchell College of Law, I have been an adjunct law professor for the past five years. I was an assistant professor at Hamline Law School for two years. I also taught prosecutors from around the nation at the National Advocacy Center in South Carolina.

I have been a frequent lecturer for various law enforcement agencies, schools, and other groups. I have also co-authored law-related articles.

I recently served as a board member on William Mitchell College of Law’s board of trustees, and also as the school’s alumni association president.

I have volunteered as a lawyer ethics investigator for five years, where I investigate alleged attorney misconduct. Finally, I am a past president of the Eighth District bar association.

Aside from my experience, what really sets me apart from my opponent is my leadership style. I choose to lead by positive influence and support, rather than creating an environment of fear and intimidation.

I believe in a team approach, where people can honestly express their views. The county attorney should lead by example, by being active and prosecuting cases. I have seen the office become highly micro-managed.

I will reduce office bureaucracy by handling a caseload. and giving attorneys and employees the discretion to make responsible decisions without fear of reprisal. I will work with the sheriff’s office and court system to create an environment of collaboration and teamwork.

I urge the citizens to speak openly with the people who actually work in the court system about the candidates. Talk to court employees, county attorney employees, citizens who have interacted with the county attorney’s office, judges, law enforcement, probation employees, victims, and attorneys. Ask them about the direction of the current leadership of the Carver County Attorney’s Office. You will see why I am running for Carver County Attorney, and why I am the best candidate.

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