County Attorney Race – Commentary by Rod Sullivan

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(Source: Rod Sullivan Blog, 19 April 2014)

The race is beginning to heat up in the contest for the Democratic Party nomination for County Attorney.

In one corner, you have Janet Lyness, a 20+ year employee of the office who was elected County Attorney in 2006 and again in 2010. In the other corner, you have relative newcomer John Zimmerman, a recently minted grad of the UI College of Law and a social justice activist.

I am backing Janet in this race. The reasons are pretty simple.

Let me begin by saying I like John Zimmerman. We have had a few conversations, and he seems like a good guy who really cares about those who are less fortunate. That is a good thing! We need more people with John’s values in our community. I’m glad he is here, and I hope he stays. I also hope people who support Janet will choose to treat John with respect.

John has also raised some very important issues. If you have read Salvos long enough, you know that he and I share many of the same concerns. Disproportionate Minority Contact, excessive bond amounts, too many arrests for marijuana, tactics of the ICPD… I could go on. I plan on continuing to work on these issues regardless of who wins the race for County Attorney. I hope you will join me!

So why do I back Janet? First, experience. I think many folks operate under the misperception that the County Attorney’s job is some podunk Mayberry-type of position. Nothing could be further from the truth. The County Attorney’s Office has a budget of almost $3 million annually, and is home to dozens of staff people, students, and volunteers. In addition to serving as the State’s Attorney on capital cases and other important criminal trials, there are hundreds of local charges being filled, plus many civil cases. They are working with victims, witnesses, judges, the Clerk of Court, and juries. The Attorney’s Office reviews every contract Johnson County enters into (there are thousands) and reviews every bit of legislation. In addition to all that, you get to defend County Departments and Elected Officials. Managing an office of this size is NOT a simple task!

Janet has the experience to handle the job. It is not easy. And I think she’d admit she had her struggles in the beginning. There are still areas where we can do better. But she has grown into an outstanding County Attorney. Janet is not good at tooting her own horn when her office does well. But they DO do well. They frequently do great things. You just don’t always hear about them. We have a County Attorney’s Office of which we can be proud. That does not just happen – that is because of Janet!

But the main reason I back Janet is simple and personal. Janet Lyness is a really good person. Is this a good reason for electing someone to office? Not on its own. But when combined with her experience, I do not know how you could possibly ask for more.

I have gotten to know Janet fairly well over my nine years in office. I am proud to call her a friend. You will not find a person more kind, caring, humble, gentle and honest. Janet has a heart of gold. She is very hardworking, yet also finds the time to be a great Mom and a super volunteer. She is a great person, plain and simple. I honestly do not know many better people. I would trust Janet with my life. I cannot say this type of thing about everyone with whom I work, but I can say it adamantly in this case. I am very fortunate to have her as a friend, and we are very fortunate to have someone of this character in elected office.

Voting begins April 24. Please join me in voting for Janet Lyness in the Democratic Primary for County Attorney.

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