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Kandiyohi County Attorney: Fischer believes approach to life serves her well

Commissioners approved a salary of $107,013 for the new county attorney.

WILLMAR -- Jennifer "Jenna" Fischer thinks of herself as an approachable person whose experience would inform her work if she's elected Kandiyohi County attorney.

Fischer is running against 20-year incumbent Boyd Beccue.

In the August primary, Fischer was the leader in a three-way race to narrow the field for the general election.

She received 64 percent of the votes cast in the primary. Beccue had 22 percent and Bradley Junkermeier 14 percent of the votes.

Fischer said she was a bit surprised by those results. "It told me a lot of people have been affected over the last 20 years and had something to say," she said.

Fischer hesitates to criticize Beccue directly.

He is an old boss -- she was an assistant county attorney for almost five years, from 1995 through 1999. "He employed me, and I'm grateful for that," she said. "He gave me good experience."

While they may agree on issues related to fighting crime, they have different styles, she said.

Fischer said she feels she left the office on good terms with Beccue. "You start thinking, 'Is this what I'm going to do ... or do I need to broaden my experience?'"

Fischer said she feels her varied experiences as a lawyer would be an asset in the job. In addition to working as an assistant county attorney, she has been a public defender and worked as a private attorney in family law and criminal defense.

She tended to see a "black and white world," when she first became a lawyer, she said. "I've learned a lot. ... On just about every issue, there's more gray than black and white."

As a defense attorney, she said, she has worked with methamphetamine addicts who trusted her enough to tell her about their addiction and its effects. "I will use that to do a better job."

An offender who hasn't had that chance to detoxify will most likely not do well in treatment, she said.

Meth addiction affects brain chemistry so profoundly that it can take a minimum of six months to clear out of their brains and think clearly again, she said.

"There's no better place than a jail or a prison to accomplish that, if they've committed crimes that justify that," she said.

If she is elected, Fischer said, she would like to see some changes made in the county attorney's office, but they would be made in consultation with others in the system.

"I think people sense I'm approachable," she said. "I want to solve problems. ... If something's going wrong, I want to hear about it."

In approaching possible changes in the county attorney's office, Fischer said, "I will have to be respectful of people who've been in the system for a long time."

She'd like to see fewer cases postponed at the request of the county attorney's office, she said. Sometimes that's beyond the control of a prosecutor, if an officer needed to testify or other witness is unavailable, she said, but that's not always the case.

She would advocate for more coordination with law enforcement to keep cases moving. "Victims, for the most part, want swift justice," she said. "They want swift consequences."

When she's out campaigning, she said, "People say they're glad to see a fresh face."

She said she tries not to keep the discussion on topic, as she doesn't like to talk about partisan politics or to get into issues that aren't related to the job for which she's running.

"I'm doing this because I want this job and not anything else," she said.

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

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