Fischer says it's time for a new face for county attorney
Editor's Note: Profiles of each of the three primary election candidates seeking the office of Kandiyohi County Attorney are publishing over three days in the Tribune. Jennifer Fischer is profiled today, and Bradley Junkermeier will be profiled in Saturday's edition. Boyd Beccue was profiled in Thursday's edition.
WILLMAR -- Describing herself as friendly, tough, realistic, patient and a "talented trial lawyer," Jennifer Fischer is also hoping to describe herself as the next Kandiyohi County attorney.
Fischer, 44, of Willmar, is challenging incumbent Boyd Beccue, who is seeking his fifth term in office. Another Willmar attorney, Bradley Junkermeier, is also running for the position.
All three candidates will be on the primary election ballot Aug. 10, and the top two vote-getters will advance to the general election ballot in November.
Fischer has worked as a public defender and is currently a partner in the Jones and Fischer law firm in Willmar.
Prior to that, however, she was a law clerk in the Eighth Judicial District Court in Willmar and then spent five years working as an assistant Kandiyohi County attorney in the mid-1990s under Beccue.
Although she's "jazzed" by criminal law and "strongly identified" with the role of public servant and prosecutor, she said she left the assistant county attorney in 1999 because she felt she was becoming jaded early on in her career.
She said she wanted to immerse herself in activities that had a positive tone that would expand her outlook and experience.
"If you just read police reports," she said, "you start to think everyone is bad."
She made a concerted effort to become active in community organizations, like the YMCA, Chamber of Commerce, Rotary and her church. A committed Christian, Fischer said her actions are faith-based. "That's a huge part of how I approach every aspect of my life," she said.
Fueled with those experiences Fischer said she now has the professional and personal capabilities to be county attorney.
"This is my community. This is my county. This is what I set out to do: to become a prosecutor," Fischer said. "Every experience I have had has led me to this point."
She also said there's a "fairly significant movement" that has given her the signal that the county is ready for a new face in that office.
"I think the time is right," said Fischer, adding that it's been "a long time" since Beccue has had an opponent on the election ballot. He's been unopposed during the last four elections.
Fischer makes no bones about the fact that the county attorney's handling of a 2008 case when charges were filed against a rural Willmar man who sprayed juveniles with fox urine as they attempted to TP his property was a "significant factor" in her decision to run for office. She thinks it will be a significant factor when voters go to the polls.
Based on feedback she said she has received from the community about citizens' rights to defend their property, Fischer said some residents "feel he (Beccue) didn't know how to pick out who the bad guys were."
She said that case is the "number one reason people tell me they want him to be done, that they want him to be replaced."
If she is elected, Fischer said the primary challenge will be tackling problems caused by reduced budgets for state courts and public defenders, which in turn impacts the work of the county attorney.
She said the county attorney's office is "one leg to a three-legged stool," adding that open communication, budget efficiencies and looking for ways "where can we save money together" are needed to make the system work.
She said her "good consensus and group-building skills" will help resolve some of the "turf wars" that she said currently exist between the county attorney's office and other agencies. "If we have a problem, we need to work together to fix it," she said.
If elected, the first thing she would do is talk with the county's attorney's staff to make sure they have a "satisfying work experience" and talk with law enforcement to ensure them she has an open-door policy for communication.
She said her ability to "get people to talk to each other," how she handles situations in her current roles and a goal-driven agenda are "key performance indicators" of how she would handle herself if elected county attorney.