Who should be Anoka county Attorney?

I have looked at the records, statements, and endorsements of the two candidates running for the open Anoka County Attorney’s office, to determine which I should support and, indeed, endorse on this blog. And I’m stuck.

It is a hard decision because both candidates have impressive backgrounds. Of the two candidates, Brad Johnson of Coon Rapids (currenly an assistant Hennepin County Attorney) and Tony Palumbo of Blaine (an assistant Anoka County Attorney) both have diverse and impressive experience as prosecutors. Johnson is the lead in the complex crimes unit for Hennepin County, though he’s only done that for a few years. In addition, Johnson has extra experience in while collar crime prosecution, something we will be seeing more of a need of as the current mortgage crisis develops into it’s next stage when it becomes realized that the banks are more responsible for this than the home owners, in many cases. Palumbo has been a prosecutor for over three decades, and has done so in Anoka County.

Palumbo has endorsements from business, labor, and law enforcements. He has considerable and divers experience, including an appointment by the Minnesota Supreme Court as chair of the of the 21st Bar District Ethics Committee. He is also an actor, which somehow makes him a more interesting candidate.

Johnson has connections to some attorneys and politicians whom I respect, including Humphrey and Freeman (they were dorm mates of dad’s) and Mike Freeman, who “lured Brad Johnson from private practice in North Carolina back to Minnesota, assigning him to prominent cases that have included the land-condemnation case involving property needed to build the Twins’ new Target Field*” and who seems to be endorsing him.

Johnson’s dad, of course, hired Palumbo out of law school.

I’m not the only person having a hard time deciding this one.

For many county workers, picking sides could prove awkward. Dick Lang, a five-term Anoka County commissioner, says “the most important thing for a county attorney with a big staff is how they can deal with people.”

Lang says both men “are very capable.” He praised Palumbo’s knowledge and experience and then added, “I think Brad, possibly, is the same way.”

Anybody want to help me out here?

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3 thoughts on “Who should be Anoka county Attorney?

  1. I voted absentee. For Johnson. He is younger, and despite father and grandfather holding the office, he bypassed the easy nepotism route of going into the office out of law school. Prior to working with Freeman downtown, he gained several years of civil practice experience in a North Carolina firm. He bypassed becoming part of the existing Anoka County old boy network, up to now, which I view favorably. The endorsements for Palumbo are old boy, with a heavy Barna, Guzy flavor to his candidacy too – the dual campaign chairmanship included. The Barna, Guzy firm already has populated half the Anoka County District 10 bench, and diversity generally is a good thing. Either of the candidates would be okay. Better than okay, each would be good. Johnson holds out the promise of being well more than his father and grandfather, although the Anoka County pattern is to reelect so that this likely would be the toughest election for whichever of the two wins. Over the last several elections, Robert M.A. Johnson’s run unopposed, as was the case for the county sheriff. That reelection tendency is why this is an important race. Your posting on it is helpful – many should realize the implications of the reelection phenomenon, and make a careful choice.

  2. I can tell you from personal and professional experience, Johnson (both his father’s regime and Brad’s own decisions on prosecution of cases) is worthless. He has consistantly re-victimized people by refusing to prosecute crimes “in the interest of justice,” whatever that means. I guess I feel the “interest of justice” is getting criminals off the street and helping restore the victim’s feeling of safety and humanity as much as possible. Besides that fact, there was just an article about Robert Johnson and the Anoka County Atty’s office directing $420,000 in tax payer dollars to Brad Johnson’s legal firm (in which he is a shareholder) without the knowledge of the County Board. Dirty stuff. Besides, Palumbo seems like a stand up guy and has former victims he worked with supporting him and working on his campaign. Pretty good rapport with the people he represents, and local law enforcement is supporting him. They are the ones catching the bad guys and will support who they think will put them away.

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