MINNEAPOLIS -- For the past 30 years, there have only been two Hennepin County Attorneys -- Amy Klobuchar and Mike Freeman. In five months, a new person will be in charge.
The recent primary cut the field down to former Hennepin County Chief Public Defender Mary Moriarty and former Hennepin County District Court Judge Martha Holton Dimick.
Because of its professional and college sports arenas, concert sites and theaters, violent crime in Hennepin County is a statewide concern. Moriarty says the system need reform.
"When I talk about reform, it's about effective public safety," Moriarty said.
Last year, Moriarty won a $300,000 settlement from the State Board of Public Defense after she was not reappointed chief public defender. The State Board admitted no wrongdoing, but Moriarty maintains she was punished for support of racial and social justice reforms.
She says reform does not equal being soft on crime.
"What about people who carjack who are under 18? What's going to happen to them under Mary Moriarty? How are they going to be prosecuted?" WCCO's Esme Murphy asked.
"We will look at the youth or the adult who is charged with a carjacking and decide what the appropriate thing to do is for them," Moriarty said. "When people try to characterize me as being 'soft on crime,' what I say to that is we need public safety, we need effective public safety, which is based on data and research."
Dimick brings to her campaign an inspiring personal story. As a single mother, she put herself through both nursing and law school.
She blames the spike in violent crime partly on the county's decision to close its only juvenile detention treatment center.
"The county commissioners made that decision without really collaborating with others within the juvenile justice system, so we have no place to put them," Dimick said. "I would like to work with the county commissioners and with the state to get an immediate placement area for them."
Dimick had less than half the votes Moriarty did in the primary. She will seek endorsements.
"I will appeal to independents, to Republicans, to Democrats. I want to pull everyone in," she said.
While this is officially a nonpartisan election, Moriarty has the DFL Party endorsement.
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