Patrick Cahill (Democrat) and Todd Thompson (Republican) are running for county attorney. Thompson is the incumbent. The election is Nov. 6. The two candidates answered the following questions from the Leavenworth Times.

Patrick Cahill (Democrat) and Todd Thompson (Republican) are running for county attorney. Thompson is the incumbent. The election is Nov. 6. The two candidates answered the following questions from the Leavenworth Times.

Name: Patrick J. Cahill
Age: 63
Political Party: Democrat
City of Residence: Leavenworth
Previous political experience: Precinct man

Name: Todd Thompson
Age: 36
Political Party: Republican
City of Residence: Leavenworth
Previous political experience: Serving the last four years as Leavenworth County attorney

1. Why are you running for county attorney?

Cahill: After my first year in law school I was robbed at gunpoint while working as a clerk in a store. I saw how the criminal justice system did not work. The robber was on federal parole, wasn’t revoked even after he pleaded guilty, came back to the scene of the robbery while I was working & didn’t appear for sentencing but was arrested six months later for armed robbery, kidnapping and rape. I have spent over 25 years as a prosecutor in Leavenworth and tried over 55 jury trials.

Thompson: Leavenworth County has been home to my family and me for over 150 years. This community is vital to me. It has been here for me when I needed it, and I want to continue do the same. Since I have taken office, we have made significant strides in strengthening communications with law enforcement, reducing crime and receiving more convictions. I want to continue that progress.

2. What experience do you have that will help you in the job?

Cahill: I have experienced an armed robbery and testified in court as a witness. I was an adult and juvenile probation officer in Leavenworth for four years. I helped set up a number of programs for Robert E. Davis and I wrote successful grants for a drug prosecutor and a domestic violence prosecutor, I have more than 25 years experience as a prosecutor and can try serious cases in court. I have years of experience working with law enforcement and community groups seeking to reduce crime.

Thompson: As county attorney, the role is much different from being an assistant county attorney. It is more than prosecuting. It is managing staff, case loads and relationships with other agencies. We now charge 40 percent more cases without any increase in the number received, including twice as many domestic violence cases, resulting in twice as many trials and more convictions. Crime has steadily decreased and cases are no longer slipping through the cracks.

3. What programs or initiatives would you like to enact?

Cahill: Leavenworth needs a drug court to address the complex issues of addiction and free the adult criminal court to address other serious crimes. Leavenworth needs outcome based prosecution where the prior criminal record and the type of current crime lead to a just outcome: prison, jail or probation. We need to involve local citizens in helping to prevent crimes in our communities.

Thompson: An investigator is something that would benefit the office when budgets allow. They would give us the ability to find missing information, witnesses and strengthen cases. We have been able to improve the technology we use in the office and the courtroom by utilizing money collected from drug cases. We continue to use these resources to look for new ways to make advancements.

4.    What would you do to deal with repeat offenders?

Cahill: If repeat offenders are addicted to drugs or alcohol we must force them to address their problem. Violent repeat offenders need to be incarcerated in jail or prison. The penalties for nonviolent repeat offenders should continue to increase until their behavior changes.

Thompson: We prosecute them. My hope with all offenders is that they can be become productive members of society, but sometimes this does not happen. When we notice repeat offenders, we keep track and work to get the convictions we need to help deter them from continuing the same path.

5.    How would you determine when plea agreements are appropriate?

Cahill: Plea agreements are acceptable when they protect the community and serve justice. Plea agreements are never acceptable as a means to avoid trying cases or to simply get a conviction at any cost. In Leavenworth we can only try a maximum of 104 adult jury trials a year (one judge who can try two jury trials a week) and the County Attorney’s Office receives many more cases a year than 104.

Thompson: My main concern is the victim/victim’s family. We balance their requests with the strength of the case and protecting the public. When considering those factors, a plea can be a better overall outcome than just taking a case to trial. It is easy to go to trial and let the jury decide. It is much more difficult to balance all of the other competing interests and arrive at a just solution.  

6. In a time when budgets seem to be tight for everyone, how would you balance keeping a control on spending while still doing the necessary work of the County Attorney’s Office?
Cahill: All government offices must be alert to reducing costs that aren’t needed while focusing on the core tasks the office must achieve; the safety of our community must always be the first priority. I believe that continuing to seek ways to save the taxpayers’ hard-earned money is a key responsibility. We have an experienced staff in the County Attorney’s Office who can help the county attorney find more efficient ways to do our jobs.

Thompson: Protecting our county and prosecuting cases is my main focus, but that does not mean I do not consider the budget. While I have been county attorney, we have never exceeded our office budget. I have done this by consolidating attorney positions, accessing grant money for salaries, utilizing an intern program and gone to a paperless office, only using mail when statute requires us to do so.