The three Democrat candidates for Hill County Attorney were allowed some audience time last night to tell the voters about what they can offer to the residents of Hill County if they are elected as our County Attorney on June 8th. There are no Republicans in the race so the primary will decide the winner. Incumbent Gina Dahl is facing off against her Deputy County Attorney Lindsey Lorang and private practice attorney Randy Randolph. Each was given a couple minutes to address the audience and then received a few questions from the forum moderator, Havre Daily “News” publisher Martin Cody.
Incumbent County Attorney Gina Dahl has been in her position for 7 years and filled the position upon the resignation of former County Attorney Cyndee Peterson. Dahl’s experience has focused on being a prosecutor she moved to Havre after a stint in the Cascade County Attorney’s office. Dahl claims she is a strong prosecutor that takes her job seriously and does her best to serve the people of Hill County and cited various experiences and special training that she claims makes her the most qualified to retain this position. Dahl also said she has been doing a good job and deserves another term.
Challenger and current Deputy Hill County Attorney Lindsey Lorang also cited her experience but further said she was better qualified because she has both prosecutor and defense experience. She also is very involved in community groups and affairs and thinks this will greatly enhance her role as County Attorney. She also has said throughout her campaign that she hopes to look towards creative sentencing and other options to deal with repeat offenders that aren’t currently being used. She also wants to explore new avenues to prevent crime before repeat offenders are again before the court.
Challenger Randy Randolph is actually the candidate with the most years of experience but they haven’t been in the role of the prosecutor. Randolph has worked in criminal defense and in civil matters. Randolph stated that he is the only one of the three candidates that is actually a Havre native and made a personal choice to come back to Havre when starting his career. Randolph also stressed that he feels comfortable with people from all walks of life that he would be dealing with and he truly cares about people and what he can do to help them.
One of the questions asked about their win-loss records in court. Incumbent Dahl said she has a good record but declined to elaborate with numbers or percentages. She said it was not about the numbers but rather if she was doing what was best for the offender and for the community.
Lorang had a similar response and reiterated Dahl’s position but did say that all of the candidates hands would be tied in many instances because they are in the office to uphold the law, and have to prosecute cases whether they agreed with it or not.
Randolph’s response to the same question was that he had a great record but in allot of instances he judged his “win” by whether or not his client was satisfied with his services. Many cases are settled without going to court and in some case the attorney has to be willing to help his client make compromises that will satisfy all parties and he plans on bringing this skill to the County Attorney’s office.
Randolph said the biggest difference between him and the other two would be that he wants the office to be open to anyone that wants to come to the county attorney for assistance. Currently they are barricaded behind a bullet-proof panel and he doesn’t see them as accessible. He also said that he most likely would be more choosey about the cases he actually brings to trial instead of wasting his time with bad cases. Why prosecute a case you know you can't win?
When asked about medical marijuana and the abuses of the current system all three candidates stated that their job is to follow the law as it is written so they didn’t see any changes in this department unless the legislature was to change the laws'
The candidates were asked if they would support and promote legislative changes such as a proposed social host ordinance that would make it against the law place for legal age adults to host parties where underage kids would be drinking even if they didn’t purchase the alcohol for them. Lorang and Randolph said their job was to enforce the current laws and not make new ones. Dahl stated that she believed this was one instance that is not entirely covered by current law and needs to be improved and she would be willing to work to get the law strengthened because there is no such thing as a “safe” place for kids to drink.
An audience member specifically asked Incumbent Gina Dahl if she thought it was proper not to excuse herself from the Long Soldier inquest when her husband was employed as a detention supervisor. Dahl stated that there was no conflict of interest as both she and her husband are on the same side and everything was handled properly You can check the Long Soldier story on the GF Tribune here http://www.greatfallstribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/201005150500/NEWS01/5150301 No other audience questions were directed to a specific candidate.
We at the Corrector have to wonder why candidates for a position such as County Attorney were not provided the opportunity to actually debate when that is what they actually do in the court room. A weak HDN forum did not do any of these candidates justice as to their abilities.
This race will be decided June 8th so be sure and vote.