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Dakota County Attorney

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  • Candidate picture

    Kathy Keena
    (NP)

  • Candidate picture

    Matt Little
    (NP)

Información Biográfica

If elected, what will your top three priorities be and why? (750 characters)

How has your career prepared you for this role? (500 characters)

What do you see as the biggest challenges to your office, and how would you address them? (500 characters)

How would you work for racial equity in the justice system? (500 characters)

How would you manage conflict within your office, and earn the public’s trust? (500 characters)

Campaign Website http://kathykeena.org
Campaign Twitter Handle @@kathy_keena
Campaign Mailing Address PO Box 665
Hastings, MN 55033
Public safety is on the top of everyone’s mind. Fortunately Dakota County has not experienced the same level of violent crime as some of our neighboring counties. The number of felony cases we prosecuted decreased in 2021; and unlike other counties, there were no reported car jackings in 2021 and none thus far in 2022. This is due in large part to the work of our police agencies and my office. My key priority is to continue protecting public safety by prosecuting crime in a fair and just manner to hold people accountable; and to ensure the rights of crime victims are safeguarded. To improve public safety, I will continue to work to reduce criminal justice involvement with those living with a mental illness and/or substance use disorder.
I currently serve as the Dakota County Attorney. I joined the office in 2000 as a criminal prosecutor. In 2005 I transferred to the civil division and represented the county in civil litigation and provided legal services to county departments. In 2013 I was promoted to Criminal Division Head; in 2019 I was promoted to Chief Deputy; and in May 2021 I was appointed to my current position. I also served 7 years in the Lyon County Attorney’s Office, 5 of those as the Lyon County Attorney.
The biggest challenge is addressing the criminal case backlog caused by the pandemic. I implemented the following measures to assist in reducing the backlog: (1) I suspended prosecuting gross misdemeanor level drug cases; (2) I created a pretrial drug diversion program; (3) I relaxed entry criteria for our adult property offender diversion program to increase participation; and (4) I relaxed our disposition guidelines for low level felony offenses to encourage settlement.
I would continue working on solutions to mass incarceration and bail reform. Nationally, more than 50% of those incarcerated have some type of mental health history; and 68% of those incarcerated have a substance use disorder – many people have both. It is for that reason one of my priorities is to look at points at which people who have a mental health and/or substance use disorder can be diverted from justice involvement.
It’s a rare instance when we have conflict in the office because we hire professionals who share three common qualities: team players, dedication to public service and hard-working. If a conflict does arise, steps are immediately taken to determine how severe the conflict is, who needs to participate in the conversation, gather all necessary information, together as a group determine the root cause of the conflict, and create a solution to the conflict with input from all interested parties.
Campaign Website http://votelittle.com
Facebook (Full URL) http://facebook.com/MattMLittle
Campaign Twitter Handle @twitter.com/AttyMattLittle
Campaign Email matt@votelittle.com
Campaign Mailing Address PO BOX 690
LAKEVILLE, MN 55044
Matt’s core priority is to provide safety and justice for all. These top priorities fulfill this important responsibility.

1) ADDRESSING CYCLES OF SEXUAL & DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: Including developing practices that treat survivors of assault with dignity, equipping staff with the best possible training, and overviewing uninvestigated assault cases.

2) KEEPING COMMUNITIES SAFE FROM GUN VIOLENCE: Advocating for commonsense, bipartisan measures to reduce illegal gun sales and make communities safer while respecting those who responsibly own firearms.

3) ESTABLISHING A VETERANS COURT: A Veterans Court will work with veterans in crisis, while providing the context and resources needed to help them return to life as healthy, productive citizens.
The Dakota County Attorney is an advocate working on behalf of the people of Dakota County. A County Attorney's job involves setting policy, making key decisions about how the legal process works within the County, managing the County Attorney's office, staff, and budget, and advocating for resources and policy changes at the Capitol. The role requires leadership, vision, and good judgment. Matt has exhibited these traits in his previous experience as a State Senator, Mayor, and attorney.
Change in a large organization can be difficult, and the Dakota County Attorney’s office is no different. Matt’s leadership as mayor grew Lakeville to the largest city in Dakota County, so he has first hand experience with large-scale management and diverse opinions.

Matt also has a vision for the office to be more than just another lawyer, but also an advocate. He’ll take the fight for Safety and Justice outside of the courtroom to expand mental health, housing, and reduce gun violence.
Matt’s priorities include measures that work to provide safety and justice for all, including to change charging, ticketing, prosecution policies. Matt will ensure that the County bail system is not used to keep nonviolent low income people accused of minor crimes from getting to their jobs or home to their kids. Matt will advocate for decriminalizing expired tabs and nonviolent low-level drug offenses; and to change the punishments for minor traffic stops to civil, not criminal, penalties.
There are two types of conflict: personal and professional.

Personal conflict based on a person’s religion, skin color, sex, gender, or abilities has no place in the workplace and will not be tolerated.

Then there’s professional conflict. It is possible to have good faith disagreements, especially with sensitive criminal justice issues. Disagreements need to be respected, heard completely, and be taken into account- with the County Attorney making the final decision.