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Rice County Attorney

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  • Candidate picture

    John Fossum
    (NP)

  • Candidate picture

    Brian Mortenson
    (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://fossum2022.org
Campaign Email vote@fossum2022.org
Campaign Mailing Address PO BOX 843
NORTHFIELD, MN 55057
If re-elected I would continue to expand access to the treatment courts and work to expand other restorative justice programs, particularly for juveniles and young offenders. I would continue the fiscal practices that have allowed me to return over $600,000 to the county treasury through wise oversight and careful management. I will also continue to hold violent offenders accountable by seeking long sentences when appropriate and to seek community-based remediation and supervision when appropriate.

I have been practicing law for 29 years including two terms as Rice County Attorney and over 20 years of private practice. Having exposure to and understanding of civil practice and transactional work is just as important as being prepared to deal with the prosecution work. The County Attorney is corporation counsel for the county and must be prepared to deal with a broad variety of civil law questions.
The biggest challenge facing the office is the public perception that felonies should result in prison time. The Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines require a non-prison sentence for most felony convictions. Even some felony assaults, most property crimes and criminal vehicular operation cases do not require a prison sentence under the sentencing guidelines even though the harm caused can be great.
All we can do as prosecutors is to deal with the cases that come to the office. We must make sure we are not unfairly prosecuting people and that are providing persons of color the same opportunities to our treatment courts and restorative justice options as other people in the system. We have an obligation to ensure that everyone gets a fair hearing and due process and not cut the process short for convenience.
Conflict is what lawyers deal with all day. Our office’s mission statement is to treat people with respect and welcome diverse people, ideas, thoughts, and differences of opinion. When conflict arises, we have clearly defined processes and policies in place to address them. Public trust is earned when the team acts professionally while working through conflict and focuses primarily on doing the work we were elected or hired to do on their behalf.
1. Properly prosecute our violent and repeat offenders. I will make sure my office seeks lengthy or aggravated sentences for our worst offenders, and seek those convictions before the defendant racks up multiple cases.

2. Seek justice for victims over worrying about case numbers. To each victim, their case is important. We will prioritize victim's rights, making sure attorneys are speaking directly with victims. We will make sure to seek timely resolution of victim cases. We will not dismiss victim cases as a way to reduce case numbers.

3. Repair the strained relationship with local law enforcement. I have been endorsed by law enforcement because I openly cooperate and collaborate with them, so each will better serve Rice County
The office's primary role is prosecution. I have over 12 years of relevant experience. In 2010 I clerked for a Federal Judge. I then worked almost 6 years in the State Attorney's Office in Naples, Florida, handling anything from DUI to Homicide. I learned to be a prosecutor and leader from a team of prosecutors with over 300 years of experience. In 2016, I continued my prosecuting career in Rice County. I have handled over 2,000 criminal cases, and completed scores of jury trials.
Training and attorney retention will be the biggest challenges to how the office functions. Currently, new attorneys get thrown into court with little to no training. I will begin an in-office training and mentoring program for ALL new attorneys to the office. The 11 attorney office has seen 8 attorneys leave in the last 3 years. I will create a positive, team oriented office, ending the current toxic work environment. A positively functioning office will better serve Rice County from day one.
Consistency in prosecution. The office currently lacks consistency in charging, plea negotiations, and final resolutions. To assure similarly situated individuals are treated similarly, we need to set standard plea offers for some of our most common offenses. This will better assure equity based on race and/or financial status. This would also give predictability for defense attorneys, hopefully leading to faster resolutions.
The three core values of the office will be Honesty, Integrity, and Respect. I will assure leadership is transparent with staff and the general public. I will make sure all members of our team feel valued and respected. I will encourage communication, and for team members to bring small issues up before they become big conflicts. I will encourage my team to be members of local organizations and volunteer in the community. I want my team to have a vested interest in Rice County.