On this regional public affairs program, a summary of office races in Hennepin and Ramsey Counties. Program includes report and various interviews of candidates of county attorney and sheriff office.
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(00:00:00) Finally, we'll take a brief look at races for countywide office in Hennepin and Ramsey County's voters in these two Metropolitan counties will choose an attorney Sheriff County Commissioners and park reserve Commissioners. We have time this morning to look only at the races for attorney in Sheriff independent Republican. Gary Flack me has been Hennepin County attorney since 1973 since then the annual budget of the attorney's office has risen from 1 million dollars to over three and a half million dollars that increase has come despite a steady decline in the County's population Flack knees dfl. Opponent. Former Minneapolis Alderman. Tom Johnson has criticized the increasing budget flak me offers. This (00:00:39) defense. The growth of the office is no different from the growth and in most law enforcement agencies. I guess we feel that it is important that money be spent judiciously in the area of strong law enforcement and that of course is were the the budget has increased it is is increased far less and let's say the Attorney General's office has State of Minnesota and over the same period of time and in addition to that it is probably comparable to what is happening in the various city attorney's offices around the county and certainly within the Public Defense sector the growth has been the same and the reason for those are of number one, of course salary increases for staff. These are all civil service and most of them Union people who sign a contract with the county and those are areas of over which no administrator has any control once the county decides on a the administration decides on a salary range than the people on board of course are going to receive increases as a cost of living goes up. The numbers of people have increased also some of that is because of mandated laws by the legislature some has come about by virtue of new duties imposed Upon Us by the Supreme Court and a number of things have come about by virtue of the County Board going into new areas requiring legal Specialties that were not in existence of five years from there. Years ago (00:02:00) flag me also says he Advocates a vigorous child abuse prosecution program. He says he's been working with state legislators for several months to come up with a bill that would allow intervention in such cases by the county attorney's office currently primary intervention is handled by County welfare workers Johnson says Flack me could be more aggressive Prosecuting child abuse under existing laws. The two candidates also disagree over how the county attorney's office should handle plea bargaining the flr Tom Johnson. (00:02:29) Well, I've proposed system very restricted use of plea bargaining the policy would be one of no use of plea bargaining except in very limited circumstances those fall into four basic categories. One were the case is genuinely deteriorated from the what it was believed to be when originally charged out the second would be where defendants testimony is essential to the conviction of a co-defendant who's committed a more. Serious crime third is where the first time offender was involved in a non-violent offense and where that defendant qualifies for a diversionary program such as project an oval and the fourth category we were of defended is willing to plead guilty to the most serious count of a multiple count of complaint and that continued prosecution of the Lesser charges would not result in any longer incarceration (00:03:28) the flr Tom Johnson flag me on the other hand seems to take a more flexible stand on plea bargaining. He says that while he does not like the idea the process is a necessary one both say the juvenile justice system in Hennepin County is in need of attention Johnson says he would assign more than the six attorneys currently working in that department Flack me says more attention needs to be given to what happens to juveniles before they are considered for trial as adults and he says there is a serious need for secure Juvenile Detention Center in the Ramsey County Attorney's. Ace William Randall who has held that office for 20 years is being challenged by Tom Foley a dfl. ER Foley is a former Ramsey County Deputy Commissioner of Corrections. He has been campaigning full-time since last May Randall points to his years of experience particularly overseeing budget matters as reason for re-election to the four-year post. He also points to what he calls a successful effort to prosecute welfare fraud (00:04:23) increase the successful prosecution of fraud in the welfare the last two years this last year, for example, we have convicted something over 85 persons for fraud and warfare division. We've also taken over the entire sloth and are not directly responsible for the collection of support payments and the support payment that comes from the parent is a dollar that does not have to come from welfare to ATC when we cook it over a year ago and September Support payments we're down to just around a million dollars in the first four months that went up the First full year. We got it up for three million dollars this year. The support collections were run over four million (00:05:14) dollars dfl are fully strongly disagrees with Randall on this point. (00:05:19) My opponent claims to have saved something like 3 million dollars in the welfare area. I think this is completely false. The last state report lists Ramsey County is 67th out of all prosecutors offices that attempt to get support money back from fathers who have children and families on welfare or afdc for every dollar spent by the Ramsey County attorney. He only gets a dollar thirty five back. So he's getting 35 cents on the dollar at the present time. Whereas in Hennepin County. He's getting something like $2 and 71 cents back. So Ramsey County is not doing the job in this area and I think it area welfare fraud can be tightened up by the It could be tightened up to ensure that more money comes back through the county (00:06:04) Foley is also critical of what he says is Randall's reluctance to prosecute white-collar crime Randall Answers by pointing to the State Attorney General's office to investigate white-collar crime and says having another such office in Ramsey County would be mere duplication of services at taxpayers expense besides William Randall. There is another 20 year incumbent on the ballot in Ramsey County. He is the sheriff Kermit headman headman says his top priority for the coming year will be to see the new County Adult Detention Center through to completion. Admin says he has been pushing for the facility generally acknowledged to be much needed for some time. His opponent Chuck Zacharias is a 16 year veteran of the sheriff's department now with the criminal investigation section. He agrees the new jail is needed but says it could have been planned better for future expansion Zacharias also false headman for his involvement in what he calls Civic Endeavors and hobbies instead of man. The sheriff's department had been founded the sheriff's boys ranches and Isanti and Austin and Zacharias argues. There is need to eliminate overlap of Patrol functions between the sheriff's department and Municipal police departments in the suburbs patrolling Suburban communities is also an issue in the race for Hennepin County sheriff in recent years some County Commissioners have called for a cut in the support the sheriff's department now provides for municipalities that have only a part-time police force both candidates for Hennepin County Sheriff incumbant Donald omote and his opponent Gordon Johnson disagree with those Commissioners. They say they both favor expanding the number of patrolling deputies one point on which the two candidates do disagree is over the treatment of prisoners Canada Johnson who served as police chief under former Minneapolis. Mayor Charleston Vig argues suspects received too much consideration in the new Hennepin County Detention Center as an example Johnson points to the purchase of an $1,800 piano for the center and he says, Doubts there is anyone there who could play it. He says criminals receive better treatment than do senior citizens Donald omote who has been sheriff for 12 years counters by saying there are legislative mandates that set certain standards of care for both suspects and convicted criminals. He says the new County Detention Center is designed to provide such conditions. There are also some Charter amendments on the ballot in the Twin Cities this fall voters in Minneapolis. And st. Paul will have a chance to decide whether to extend the term of Mayor from two to four years and in st. Paul voters will decide whether or not to do away with party designation in mayoral and city council races.