Voters in Scott County this fall will decide a contested race between candidates running to be the county’s top prosecutor.
The choice is between incumbent Scott County Attorney Ron Hocevar and Allen Andersen, a former prosecutor in the Scott County Attorney’s Office who now works with clients facing civil matters in Hennepin County.
Among the candidates’ stark differences is their beliefs on prosecution of drug possession, specifically regarding marijuana after a period in which many states have liberalized their stances towards the drug.
Andersen has vowed to end prosecution of marijuana possession if elected, believing drug possession charges drain the office’s resources without advancing public safety.
In an interview, Andersen said he’d direct his efforts towards the creation of additional specialty courts, such as one focused on mental health, in order to help some offenders access services proven to reduce recidivism.
In 2019, Andersen spearheaded the founding of the county’s Veterans Treatment Court, which aims to bring stability back to the lives of veterans who’ve pled guilty to a criminal offense.
Hocevar, who won the election in 2015 and ran unopposed in 2018, has voiced opposition to marijuana legalization and said he’ll continue to enforce all the laws in existence.
“We’re sworn to uphold all the laws, not the ones we pick and choose to uphold,” he said.
While Hocevar said he supports the county’s two existing specialty courts, he doesn’t think additional speciality courts are needed in Scott County.
Both candidates value the support of law enforcement.
Anderson he believes his progressive policies are advancements to the criminal justice system that will be accepted overtime.
“I think it’s a slow change, but I’m confident that if we can get law enforcement to understand the reasoning and necessity behind these changes, I think they would be able to be onboard with it,” Andersen said.
Hocevar believes voters can feel confident in his record.
“Over the last 8 years I’ve proven that we’ve run a very efficient, tough on crime office,” Hocevar said. “I’m all for holding criminals accountable and supporting law enforcement.”
Of Minnesota’s 87 counties, voters in only 13 will have a contested county attorney race on the ballot in 2022. In neighboring Dakota County, the contested race for the county attorney’s office is the first since 1994.