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Olmsted County Attorney

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  • Candidate picture

    Karen MacLaughlin

  • Candidate picture

    Mark A. Ostrem

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 Twitter Handle @@maclaughlin4oca
Campaign Email karen@maclaughlin4oca.com
Campaign Mailing Address P.O. BOX 8471
Keeping our community safe, reducing racial disparities and reducing gun violence. The Olmsted County Attorney can help increase public safety by improving the public’s trust in law enforcement so more victims/witnesses can come forward. Addressing racial disparities starts with transparency. I will create demographic dashboard and use the data to improve access to diversion programs and specialty courts. I will work with law enforcement to reduce traffic stops for minor infractions and focus resources on cases that create a risk to public safety. One of my first initiatives will be to reduce a domestic violence victim’s false sense of safety by working with partners to enforce orders prohibiting domestic abusers from possessing firearms.
I was an Assistant Olmsted County Attorney for 17 years and I am now a legal aid attorney. I have broad experience listening to crime victims, presenting testimony and evidence and convincing the fact finder that I have proven the elements of each case. I have also collaborated with partners to identify and solve problems. I am visible in the community. To be successful, I believe the County Attorney needs this level of experience to lead the office and to serve as the chief prosecutor.
The pandemic has created a backlog in the justice system. I will prioritize cases based on the impact of the case on public safety, and I will divert lower level cases to restorative resolutions. Another challenge is the mental health and chemical health needs in the justice system. We need to focus on finding resources to expand existing programs, particularly drug court, diversion programs and restorative practices, and offer similar services to more people who enter the justice system.
I will create a dashboard to show the demographics of all cases. I will work with law enforcement to reduce the number of traffic stops for minor infractions, which have a disparate impact on people of color, and instead focus resources on cases that create a risk to public safety. I will review drug court procedures to ensure the criteria are fair and equitable to all. I will prioritize reducing racial disparities and increasing access to the justice system in all areas of the office.
I will manage conflict in a straightforward manner. I will spend the time to resolve the conflict fairly, and I will make sure all perspectives are heard. To minimize conflict, I will treat everyone fairly and I will develop an office culture that is safe, trusting and welcoming. To earn the public’s trust, I will be accessible and visible. I will focus my work and energy here in Olmsted County and will develop ways to hear directly from people impacted by the decisions of the office.
Partner to make our schools a safe place to learn: Schools need the assistance of our office to help students attend and learn in a safe environment. Respect for teachers and staff will build respect for our community. There is no greater means to achieve success than a diploma. Gun violence: It is a top priority of our office to be firm on illegal possession of firearms and the use of weapons in violent offenses. I will enforce mandatory sentencing provisions for unlawful use of guns. Consistent and confident public safety leadership: The pandemic and social injustices have created a swinging pendulum in public safety. We need to protect our local community from the partisan, irresponsible inaction other jurisdictions have experienced.
As the Olmsted County Attorney, I craft policy and set standards for the office. I am a founding member of the Olmsted County Justice Council including nearly every subcommittee. I work with the staff carrying a caseload. I have tried murder cases, complex theft cases and committed dangerous sex offenders for indeterminate periods protecting our community. I am on the Board of Directors for Minnesota County Attorney Association and Vice President of the National District Attorney Association.
The disruption to the judicial system caused by the pandemic created significant instability in public safety. We will continue close relationships with law enforcement, corrections, adult and youth mental health workers and schools to reset community honesty and integrity. Fairness in prosecution of violent crime and restoring civility in all aspects of our community are a priority.
Our office has established prosecution policies to ensure fairness to all participants in the system. I am a member of the OCJC racial equity subcommittee. We have established an equity team in the office to guide our staff efforts for fairness. It is important to know our citizens and the heritage we all bring to our collective community. I continue to learn myself and teach our staff that each of our decisions may impact community members differently.
We continue to develop and review office policies. We set standards for our office professionalism and general etiquette. We meet regularly as an office, and I encourage input from everyone before finalizing policies to learn from staff what’s important to them. Our staff are professionals and recognize the opportunity to provide input and to support the finished product. Consistency and perception of fairness are the foundation of my office upon which I have built our community’s trust.