Junkermeier says he has experience needed to be county attorney
WILLMAR -- In spite of, or perhaps because of, the 28 years he's spent arguing cases in front of juries and the 17 years spent lecturing during a part-time teaching job at Ridgewater College, Bradley Junkermeier does not speak glibly.
When asked a question, he pauses and provides careful, succinct answers.
Part of that pause is because Junkermeier is listening to and watching the other person and applying the lessons he's learned as a student and teacher of logic and analytical thinking.
It's a communication trait that has helped him anticipate what a jury could be thinking or how distracted his students might be, he said. It's also a trait that has taught him he can learn from others if they are listened to and shown the respect they deserve.
That's the kind of rapport he said he would cultivate with the people he would be serving and working with if elected Kandiyohi County attorney.
Junkermeier, 57, of Willmar, is challenging incumbent Boyd Beccue in the Aug. 10 primary election as is Jennifer "Jenna" Fischer. The top two vote-getters will advance to the general election in November.
Junkermeier said he was encouraged to run several years ago but felt he needed more experience in applying skills to address the diverse criminal and civil cases that typically come to the county attorney's office.
The accumulated years he has spent working in various areas of law and managing his solo practice in Willmar have given him "sufficient experience" to handle the job now, said Junkermeier, who describes himself as aggressive, diligent and sensitive to clients' circumstances.
Junkermeier also said he is running for office in order to give voters an opportunity to have a choice when they vote for county attorney "rather than just have one name on the ballot."
This is the first time since being elected in 1990 that Beccue has had opponents.
When asked, Junkermeier said he was not motivated to run because of criticism the county attorney's office faced after charging a rural Willmar man who sprayed kids with fox urine as they attempted to TP his property during a school homecoming prank in 2008.
"That had no effect on my decision," said Junkermeier, in contrast to Fischer, who questioned Beccue's handling of the case and said it was a significant factor in her decision to run.
Because he had not read the police reports and was not familiar with the investigation, Junkermeier said he would not second-guess or pass judgment on why certain decisions were made in that controversial case, which gained nationwide notoriety.
"I don't know the details," said Junkermeier, who said his campaign would not use partisan politics "taken to the extreme" based on one case.
Instead, he said the candidates should be judged on their qualifications, background and experience in the law.
He said the primary challenges facing the county attorney are to effectively and efficiently prosecute criminal cases despite financial constraints brought on by tight local and state budgets. That can be done by continuing to implement technology that creates efficiencies and applying budgeting methods gleaned from years of operating his own law business, Junkermeier said.
Savings could also be seen by offering plea agreements during initial court appearances for some cases, which would avoid costly and time-consuming pre-trial conferences and other court appearances. It's a method other Minnesota counties are using, he said.
Junkermeier also foresees challenges for the county attorney's office when it comes to prosecuting illegal immigrants when there may be overlapping federal and local offenses.
If elected, the first item on his to-do list would be to meet with staff to hear their ideas on how the office could be run more efficiently and how cases and duties could be better facilitated. He would also meet with the county's department heads to get their input on how to improve the effectiveness of the office.
Irked by individuals who believe they're superior to others simply because they have a law degree, Junkermeier said people from all professions, including truck drivers, railroad workers and building contractors -- all jobs he's held -- have valuable perspectives that should be respected.
Because a county attorney has contact with a diverse group of people, he said he would bring that attitude of respect to the office.