Candidates Join The Race To Replace Longtime Polk County Attorney John Sarcone – About Your Online Magazine


O retirement Longtime Polk County Attorney John Sarcone has already led two candidates to enter the race to succeed him. Since he was elected the county’s top prosecutor three decades ago, Sarcone has I never faced an opponent. Now, an assistant public prosecutor and a defense attorney are among those competing to replace him.

First elected to the office in 1991, Sarcone will not run for re-election, a development first reported by KCCI. Sarcone says he plans to spend more time with his 10 grandchildren.

Sarcone faced intense criticism for his indictment in Des Moines Register reporter Andrea Sahouri, who was acquitted after being arrested while covering a protest for the newspaper. His arrest and prosecution attracted outrage freedom of expression and civil society advocates around the world. Sarcone’s indictment of racial justice protesters active in last summer’s marches also drew criticism.

Assistant prosecutor distances herself from Sarcone

Assistant Polk County Attorney Laura Roan, a Democrat, officially entered the race for the position on Thursday. Although she comes from Sarcone’s office, a position she says she has held for about four months, Roan has made it clear that her candidacy will be hers.

“I’m here now, not John Sarcone. I’m not your replacement and I certainly won’t be your attorney,” Roan said. “I’m a woman with my own career and my own goals for the office.”

Career Promoter, Roan has also served as Assistant Attorney General for Iowa and Assistant US Attorney General for the Southern District of Iowa. It touts a track record of prosecuting “high-profile crimes in almost every county in the state.”

“I’m here now, not John Sarcone. I’m not your replacement and I certainly won’t be your attorney. I’m a woman with my own career and my own goals for the office.”

-Laura Roan, Polk County Attorney Candidate

Roan declined to say whether she would have sued Sahouri, saying that although she is familiar with the case, she couldn’t make the call without having access to all the evidence.

“I can’t tell you what I would do because knowing what I know isn’t the case file,” Roan said. “If I’m not responsible for the prosecution and I haven’t interviewed witnesses and I don’t know all the facts and applicable law, then I’m not going to assess whether this was a good case or a bad case.”

Roan says he wants to “modernize” the office and is open to some of the approaches implemented by a wave of reform-minded promoters across the country, including reassessing how the office approaches the low-severity marijuana crime process.

“Let’s talk to the governor’s office on Drug Control Policy. We’re going to have the conversations with the local substance abuse and pretrial release providers and the police department,” Roan said, “because we don’t want to focus our resources on [low level marijuana offenses]. ”

Roan is advocating greater transparency in the office, including using data and analytics to assess billing decisions and outcomes. She said she would make prosecution for high-level sexual and violent crimes a priority.

“My career has been made with laser beams in the most violent offenses. And that’s where most of our resources need to go,” said Roan. “And not just because it’s about money. As we know, the national conversation is that we need to make sure communities of color are part of the solution. ”

“My career has been made with laser beams in the most violent offenses. And that’s where most of our resources need to go […] As we know, the national conversation is that we need to make sure communities of color are part of the solution. “

-Laura Roan, Polk County Attorney Candidate

Defense Attorney and Potential Attorney Vows Not to Prosecute Low-Gravity Marijuana Crimes

Defense attorney and former Democratic candidate for the US Senate Kimberly Graham also announced his candidacy Thursday. She says she would try to emulate the work of progressive promoters focused on neutralizing racial disparities in the justice system.

A defense lawyer who has spent most of her career in the juvenile justice field, Graham says that last summer’s racial justice movement, which was galvanized by the murder of George Floyd, led her to consider running, as did the Sarcone’s indictment against Sahouri.

Graham currently serves as an attorney and ad litem tutor for children in the Polk County Courthouse Recovery Program, a position she says involves extensive research and investigation and an objective view of the facts to recommend what is best for the child in question. what she argues is not far removed from the responsibility of a county attorney to “seek truth and justice.”

“To me, a lot of this work that the Public Ministry could be doing, part of it may sound like the so-called “social work”, but I call it investment in our communities. We all want our communities to be safer. ”

– Kimberly Graham, Polk County Attorney Candidate

Attracted by the political and administrative aspects of the work, Graham is promoting ideas aimed at neutralizing racial inequalities in Iowa’s criminal justice system, which is among the most severe in the nation.

Among his initial commitments, Graham says his “default policy” would be not to prosecute low-level actions. marijuana possession, seen as a driver of racial disparities in between Iowa incarcerated. She says her office would prioritize entertainment programs and social services.

“To me, a lot of this work that the county attorney’s office could be doing, some of it might sound like so-called ‘social work’, but I just call it investing in our communities,” Graham said. “We all want ours. communities are safer. ”

Graham said he is open to selectively not enforcing other offenses as well, as long as it is an effective strategy. Graham said he would also make data and analytics a new focus for the office, saying he would like collaboration with outside researchers and academics.

“Whether it’s Drake [University], ISU, University of Iowa, invite researchers and statisticians to the office to help us keep the data because part of the problem is the opacity, the lack of transparency that many offices have,” Graham said.

In line with steps taken by other prosecutors across the country, Graham said he would establish a conviction integrity unit composed of lawyers whose sole focus is to review the firm’s past convictions for supporting evidence or other issues.

“There is a lot of potential for, as I call it, reimagining public safety […] I would love to have the ability to defend that and defend a more complete and holistic picture of public safety in Polk County. “

– Kimberly Graham, Polk County Attorney Candidate

“This is something I consider critical. I believe prosecutors should be there to seek truth and justice,” Graham said. “A prosecutor should be so happy with an acquittal, right? As with a conviction. Because they must present their best evidence and if the system thinks that person should not have been convicted, then that should be acceptable. It shouldn’t be the all-cost type of process. ”

By refusing to prosecute certain crimes, Graham says he plans to redirect the office’s resources to a list of other efforts, such as processing a backlog of rape kits and prioritizing the prosecution of sexual assault cases, expanding support for victims of crimes targeting people of color or channeling resources to alternative programs such as drug courts and mental health courts.

“There is a lot of potential for, as I call it, reimagining public safety,” Graham said. “I would love to have the ability to defend that and defend a more complete and holistic picture of public safety in Polk County.”



Paula Fonseca