AUSTIN EDITION -- Mower County attorney faces two challengers
By Amy Olson
Mower County's candidates for the job of top prosecutor say their qualifications can best serve voters in the county.
Incumbent County Attorney Patrick Oman faces two challengers.
Assistant County Attorney Patrick Flanagan, who started working for the county last year, said he sees several areas for improvement and hopes his organizational and communication skills can help get the job done.
Flanagan spent three years in civil practice before being hired to reorganize an insurance adjustment company's Minnesota operations. Tired of travel, he went back into civil and criminal practice before contracting with Mower County to help prosecute cases in 2001.
Flanagan said the county attorney's office needs communicate more about cases with crime victims and law enforcement officers, keeping both groups abreast of developments.
Flanagan said more victim input needs to be taken into consideration in resolving cases, and while there are reasons for plea-bargaining cases, victims' opinions matter.
Chief Deputy County Attorney Jonathan Olson agrees. Olson said there are circumstances where plea bargains are necessary, but prosecutors can do more to take victims' concerns into consideration.
Olson said he wants to see the county attorney's office use more of its technological resources to track cases and notes within files about victims' wishes.
Olson said he also wants to see the office become more organized and efficient.
Oman, running for his fourth term, has outlined the treatment of victims as one of his top issues as well. Oman said the hiring of a victim-witness coordinator is one of his top priorities. Oman and Olson also say a coordinator is needed.
Oman said voters need to consider all facets of the county attorney's job. Besides criminal prosecutions, he said, there are civil matters in which the county must be represented -- from child protection petitions to advising the county board on land-use and zoning issues.
"Those civil matters don't make the news, but they're still important," Oman said.
Oman said he wants to improve communication with law enforcement and stressed the importance of working with the county's five county commissioners and department heads.
BOX Patrick Flanagan
Address: P.O. Box 867, Austin
Family: One son.
Work and education: Civil and criminal law private practice, 10 years; reorganized Custard Insurance Agency's Minnesota operations; Assistant Mower County Attorney, one year.
Community and volunteer positions: Mower County mentoring program; Cedar Valley Conservation Club.
Previous government positions: None.
Top issues: Improving communication with law enforcement; improving cooperation to improve efficiency
BOX Jonathan Olson
Address: 1011 Eighth Ave. N.W., Austin
Family: Wife, Sara Jane; two children.
Work and education: St. Olaf College, Valparaiso School of Law; Assistant County Attorney in Mahnomen County, three years; Assistant County Attorney in Mower County, three years; Chief Deputy Mower County Attorney, one year.
Community and volunteer activities: Our Savior's Lutheran Church Council, past president of stewardship board and guitarist at worship services; Summerset Theater actor; volunteer firefighter with the Austin Fire Department.
Previous government positions: None.
Top issues: Improving communication within the county attorney's office and better use of technology to increase efficiency; improving communication with other county agencies on cases; improving communication with crime victims to take their wishes into consideration in resolving cases.
BOX Patrick Oman
Address: 2604 Fifth Ave. N.W., Austin.
Family: Wife, Janet; three children.
Work and education: Private practice, Redwood Falls, Minn.; Redwood County assistant prosecutor, 1987; Assistant Mower County Attorney, November 1987; appointed county attorney 1990. Bachelor's degree in criminal justice, University of Wisconsin; law degree, William Mitchell College of Law, St. Paul.
Community and volunteer activities: Member of the Elks Lodge; involved with the non-profit Cooperative Solutions mediation group; statutes and constitutional procedures instructors at Riverland Community College, nine years.
Previous government positions: County Attorney, elected 1990, re-elected 1994, 1998.
Top three issues: Implement a crime victim/witness coordinator to help keep in contact and better serve victims; broadening experience in criminal and civil law affecting county governance; continuing to work with law enforcement on cases that come up.