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Beccue seeks fifth term as Kandiyohi County attorney

WILLMAR -- The Kandiyohi County Attorney's office, located in the lower level of the courthouse in Willmar, has the typical law books and files on the shelves of County Attorney Boyd Beccue.

But there is also a collection of hand-blown glass bottles from the pre-Civil War era, a photo of Beccue's father in his World War II Rangers uniform and a picture of his great-grandfather who served in the Civil War when just 18 years old.

Those artifacts are more than window dressing. They represent Beccue's fascination with history and served as an inspiration when he enlisted in the Army -- where he rose to captain by the time of his discharge -- and when he decided to pursue a career in law.

Beccue, 62, this year is seeking his fifth term as county attorney.

For the first time since he was elected in 1990, Beccue has competition. He will be facing Willmar attorneys Jennifer Fischer and Bradley Junkermeier in the Aug. 10 primary. The top two vote-getters will be placed on the general election ballot in November.

The 20 years Beccue has served as county attorney, the 3½ years as assistant county attorney, time spent working as Kerkhoven's city attorney, a stint as president of the Minnesota County Attorneys Association and a "wide range" of experience in private law practice are what give him the credentials to serve another term, said Beccue, who credits his overseas time in the Army for giving him leadership and administrative skills.

He said he is seeking another term because he "loves" his job and "would not feel right abandoning my post" during the tight budget crunch. "I have the experience necessary to find the way through that maze," he said.

Embracing the state's new practice of filing paperless criminal complaints and digital document disclosures to defense attorneys are examples of how new technology has helped his office "run smarter and more efficiently" with a frugal budget, Beccue said.

His proposed 2011 budget has an increase of less than six-tenths of 1 percent, with that increase due to a $6,000 expenditure for required software to facilitate electronic charging -- which will save taxpayer dollars spent for local law enforcement and state courts but will be an up-front cost to the county attorney's office.

He said the Kandiyohi County Attorney's Office runs well because he surrounds himself with "outstanding people" who are allowed to use their abilities and exercise their discretion with their assigned cases.

"We have too many cases to micromanage everything we do," said Beccue, who said he sets the tone by prioritizing cases, like sexual assault, abuse of children and vulnerable adults and drug cases, and then gives his assistants enough "freedom" to do their jobs well.

Beccue estimates he's overseen at least 20,000 cases as county attorney. Not all his decisions have been popular with constituents, but Beccue said his job is to follow the law and support the Constitution "without worrying about whether the decision is going to be popular with some people or not."

Beccue felt the fury of some citizens with a 2008 case involving a rural Willmar man who faced misdemeanor charges after he sprayed a group of juveniles with fox urine as the youth were attempting to TP his property during a high school homecoming prank.

The complicated case eventually resulted in charges being dropped against the man. Beccue's office also prosecuted several youth who were involved and led the effort that resulted in a new county trespassing ordinance being approved, but the case drew nationwide attention that was critical of Beccue for filing charges against the property owner in the first place.

Beccue said members of the public did not know all the facts of the case and that online comments and letters to the editor contained false information that unfairly portrayed the situation.

"I don't try my cases in the newspaper or in television or the radio," said Beccue. "I try my cases in court. That has been my policy for a very long time."

While not saying all his decisions have been right, Beccue said he is "not looking over my shoulder" to see who's happy and is willing to make "tough decisions."

If re-elected Beccue said he will continue to look at ways to operate the office more efficiently and will continue his work on an exploratory committee to establish a veterans treatment court that would help veterans suffering from traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder avoid jail for some crimes and get the help they need.

"I feel I'm dedicated to the job. I love working for the people of Kandiyohi County and I hope people recognize that," said Beccue.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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