Two people are competing for the office of Jefferson County Attorney.
The two are incumbent Republican Tim Dille and Democratic challenger Chauncey Moulding. The two candidates answered a questionnaire The Ledger sent to them. Here are their answers, in their own words.
1) What does a county attorney do?
The county attorney is responsible for 87 specifically enumerated duties under Iowa Code section 331.756, but the main duties are to prosecute all criminal matters in the county in the name of the state of Iowa, and to advise the elected and appointed officials of the county concerning county legal matters and implications of their actions.
The county attorney is the principal legal advisor and law enforcement official for Jefferson County. These duties are broad, and set forth into law in Iowa Code Chapter 331 (addressing County Home Rule Implementation), Section 756.
First and foremost of these duties is the responsibility to enforce and prosecute state and local laws within the county, ranging from misdemeanor driving infractions up to the gravest of forcible felonies, such as arson, sexual assault and murder. This is the role of criminal prosecutor, known in other jurisdictions as “district attorney” or “state’s attorney,” (my favorite fictional example being Sam Waterston’s Jack McCoy from “Law and Order”).
Other duties of the county attorney include advising the board of supervisors, county officers, and township trustees on legal matters pertaining to their official capacities or to the county writ large, and representing state agencies on matters within the county.
2) What experience do you have that would make you a good county attorney?
My experience hunting cocaine smugglers in Central and South America with the U.S. coast Guard has given me insight into counter-narcotics interdiction tactics that would be well suited to disruption of the supply-lines leading into Jefferson County.
After law school, I worked as a judicial law clerk for the judges of this district. This role involved working very closely with our judiciary, as a sounding-board to help consider cases, researching unique points of law, and drafting decisions and rulings. This experience gave me insights into how our judges think and how they decide cases, and has proven a massive asset in my practice as an attorney.
Finally, I am a criminal prosecutor. I do this job in Washington and Keokuk Counties, and I’m good at it. I want to fight for the people of Jefferson County, my home.
I served as an intern in the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office the summer of 1990 and 1991 while attending law school. I was an Assistant Jefferson County Attorney from April of 1997 through December of 1998. I became the first full time County Attorney in Jefferson County in January of 1999 and have served in that capacity since then. That is approximately 22 years of experience in the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office. During those years, I have served on many different committees and groups, including chairing some of those committees.
3) What are the biggest problems facing the county, and how do you intend to solve them?
The biggest problem I feel is the lack of resources to serve the mentally ill and substance abusers. There is a lack of beds available in the area for mental health treatment and a lack of professionals to treat these patients. This requires law enforcement to transport these individuals to places where these resources are available.
We have the same issues with substance abuse treatment. Anyone with a drug or alcohol conviction is required to have a substance abuse evaluation and treatment if the evaluation says they need it. However, the lack of resources in the area requires the individuals to travel outside the area at added expense.
They also have to wait weeks to get an appointment for the evaluation. These are matters that can only be changed with legislation and funding to provide the needed resources.
I still think one of the most effective pieces of marketing I have ever seen was the “faces of meth” campaign from the 1990s, which placed photos of people arrested for meth-related crimes side by side, and visualized the effect this poison has on the body. It was stark and shocking, and I see this today in reviewing mug-shots of defendants.
There is a heavy toll paid by someone living that life, a toll also borne by their family and the community writ large. I intend to work closely with federal, state and local law enforcement partners to find creative and innovative solutions to this epidemic, including supply chain disruption and utilization of technological investigative tools to stem the tide of this crisis.
I also intend to advocate for a fix to our broken mental health care system. Someone suffering an acute mental health crisis should not be forced to wait in a jail or emergency room for hours on end for a treatment bed to be found. I cannot fix this problem alone, but will partner with stakeholders and loudly advocate for the resources we need from Des Moines.
Finally, I will pay special attention to fighting against public and private corruption within our community.
4) What changes (or continuities) should voters expect if you are elected?
I harbor no ill will towards Mr. Dille, and feel he has honorably served Jefferson County in his 20 years in office. However, I intend to succeed him. That being said, his staff have shown themselves to be diligent, hard-working professionals, and voters should expect continuity in his office personnel.
I will continue to treat every person that comes before the criminal justice system fairly and equally. I have a very good staff that works very efficiently and we try to treat each individual that comes to us fairly and justly.
We will continue to work with people to correct their legal situation while trying to enforce the law that the legislature enacts. We will also continue to provide our payment plan and driver’s license reinstatement plans to help people get back on their feet and become productive citizens.