Attorney candidates face off
Free County held a candidates’ forum for the individuals seeking the position of Washington County Attorney, Tuesday evening, at the Washington Public Library.
James Graham of Free County served as the moderator. He said the mission of the organization is to increase public awareness of freedom issues and to help voters become more informed about the candidates who will be on the primary election ballot on June 3.
The people who attended the Free County asked question about the duties of the county attorney, belief in the United States Constitution, political influence, handling conflict with other county elected officers, the need for an assistant county attorney, and how they make decisions about prosecuting crimes or civil cases.
There are two Republicans, Larry Brock and Shawn Showers, and one Democrat, Barb Edmondson, running for the post. Brock is in his first term as county attorney. Edmondson was the county attorney for 13 years, and assistant county attorney prior to being elected to the post. Showers was the assistant Washington County attorney for 3 1/2 years and an assistant county attorney for 1 1/2 years in Cerro Gordo County. He has also worked as a public defender.
All three candidates said that the county attorney is the chief law enforcement officer in the county. Brock said the county attorney’s role is to work for the best interests of the county. Showers said that the county attorney needs to ensure that justice is done. Edmondson said the county attorney is the gatekeeper of justice in the county.
All three also spoke about other duties, including advising other county officials on legal matters and the importance of working with law enforcement officers.
When asked if the candidates’ personal political point of view would influence the way they would do the job, Edmondson said, “In two words, it doesn’t.” She said the county attorney needs to provide fair and balanced justice. She said she once stopped a case when she realized the charges filed against a person were not true.
Brock said that the county attorney should focus on justice and not on ideological grounds. He said he has maximized revenue and minimized spending.
Showers said justice is blind. He said a person’s character matters.
As for the Constitution, the candidates say they would uphold the United States Constitution and the Iowa Constitution.
A few questions were asked about how the candidates would cope with conflict with the board of supervisors.
Brock said every step he has taken has been to work with the supervisors. He again said that he wants what is best for Washington County.
Showers said that county officers need to and do act as professionals. He said that if there were conflict, it would not be apparent to the public.
Edmondson said she did her best work for the supervisors.
The candidates said that having an assistant county attorney is necessary in Washington County, that there is enough work for two full-time professionals.
All three said that facts and evidence are the main criteria for bringing charges against anyone.
Brock said his job is not to determine who is guilty. That’s the job of a judge and jury. In addition to looking at the facts and evidence, he also needs to establish “probable cause.”
Showers also spoke about the facts and the evidence. He said the county attorney needs to be able to prove a case without any doubt.
Edmondson said that as county attorney, she had to be certain in her mind of the facts and evidence. She said she had to be certain in her own mind that she could convince a jury to arrive at certainty as well.
When asked why they are the best candidate for the job, Edmondson said her integrity, experience and expertise makes her the best candidate. She said she has a 26-year record of success
Brock said his reasonableness is one reason why he is the best candidate. He also said he holds no grudges and that he looks at every case fairly.
Showers said he would bring his background, common sense and decency to the office. He said he has seen what a successful and an unsuccessful county attorney can do.
The candidates for county attorney and county supervisor will meet again in a forum sponsored by the Washington County Farm Bureau on Thursday, May 22, in the lower level of the extension office. The attorneys will begin at 6:30 p.m. and the supervisors at 7:15.