Why I’m Running

I am running for Calumet County District Attorney because I was asked to by law enforcement.  

Pictured left to right: Sheriff Mark Ott, Nathan Haberman, Retired Sheriff Jerry Pagel

In fact, in April, I was invited to a chief’s meeting where the law enforcement leaders of Calumet County conveyed to me some of the concerns that they were having with their current District Attorney.  From that meeting I learned that law enforcement’s relationship with the current District Attorney has deteriorated to a point where there is simply no relationship. Law enforcement has lost trust and faith in the current District Attorney to carryout the responsibilities of that position.

Law enforcement explained to me that there has been a significant lack of communication with the District Attorney.  Law enforcement has found it very difficult to get advice and guidance on investigations and particular areas of the law while performing their duties.  They have received a large number of cases that are declined to prosecute by the District Attorney without any sort of explanation as to why or what is needed to improve the case.  I was surprised to learn that the District Attorney has not been willing to assist law enforcement in obtaining search warrants in the middle of the night.  Frankly, the current District Attorney is hardly even in his office.  Law enforcement explained that at best, the District Attorney was working from about 9 am until only 3 pm each day.  Law enforcement also explained that they were frustrated because individuals who committed crimes were not being fully prosecuted and held accountable for their actions.  They explained that there has been a large number of deferred prosecution agreements that have been used and there has been very few cases that have ever gone to jury trial, and even fewer trials that were won.  

I was shocked upon hearing some of the challenges law enforcement have faced in Calumet County.  In Sheboygan County, I am used to routinely working with law enforcement to gather evidence and investigate crimes sufficiently for successful prosecutions through search warrants and subpoenas.  In Sheboygan County, the District Attorney, my colleagues and I are routinely called in for search warrants in the middle of the night.  I am routinely in jury trials in order to hold offenders accountable for their actions.  It was very surprising for me to hear that these basic functions of a district attorney are not being performed.

Calumet County law enforcement asked me if I would run for District Attorney because they believed they desperately needed a change in leadership.  I was honored.  It was rewarding to see that my reputation as an aggressive and effective prosecutor has been noticed by other counties beyond my own.   I was also surprised by the request.  While running for District Attorney had been something that I thought about in the future, I was not intending on running at this time.  I spent time to discuss the decision to run for District Attorney with my family and my co-workers.  Without hesitation, my family was completely committed to this new opportunity – even if this meant moving the family to a new community.  My co-workers also expressed that they had confidence in me to perform the duties of a district attorney, but they also knew it was going to be a loss for Sheboygan County if I left.  Before committing to running, I began speaking to other individuals I knew in Calumet County.  As I spoke to them, I learned that there were many other people outside of law enforcement who were also frustrated with the current District Attorney.   It became clear to me that I needed to run for Calumet County District Attorney to help repair the relationship with law enforcement and to ensure that people who do commit crimes are held accountable for their actions.

Thus, my campaign emerged out of law enforcement’s necessity for change.  My campaign emerged because law enforcement in Calumet County united under a common voice in order to effectuate a change in leadership to ensure the community will protected. 

Interestingly, as my campaign has continued, I have had the opportunity to speak to many victims of crimes who have thanked me for running for District Attorney.  Victims have even approached me during and after parades to thank me for my efforts.  These victims all have their own stories to tell, but clearly they have been effected by the current District Attorney.  I even ran into a member of the community who sat on a jury trial that the District Attorney prosecuted.  This juror was so frustrated with the lack of effort and passion the District Attorney put into a sexual assault prosecution that they also thanked me for running.  Certainly victims of crimes deserve better advocacy than that.  Throughout this campaign, I learned that it is not just law enforcement that is seeking the change, it is the entire community.