Dakota County Attorney election between Kathy Keena and Matt Little

2022 Dakota County Attorney Election: Criminal Justice Reform

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The county attorney is on the ballot this year in Dakota County, the first time the race has been contested since 1994. We’ve asked the candidates a series of questions to see where they stand on the issues. We’ll share one question and the responses at a time leading up to the general election on November 8. See our 2022 voter’s guide for more.

Previously we asked about guiding philosophypublic safetymental healthabortion, and drug policy. This time we’re asking about criminal justice reform.

The criminal justice conversation has shifted to more proactive approaches to reduce crime and recidivism. What proactive efforts and policies do you support?

Here are the candidates’ responses:

Kathy Keena

(campaign site)

Editor’s note: Kathy Keena opted not to answer our questions and instead submitted the following note. (She did answer most of our questions during the primary.)

First let me thank you for contacting me regarding the questions for the West St. Paul Reader.  

That being said, my position as the Dakota County Attorney and the Oath of Office which I swore to uphold, require that my positions on matters of legislation and the law remain non-partisan. I truly believe that justice can only be served fully and appropriately by remaining such. Therefore, I cannot in good conscience answer your questionnaire. 

As the Dakota County Attorney, I must support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Minnesota. In that role, one of my primary responsibilities is to oversee the appropriate enforcement of constitutionally sound laws enacted by our state legislature and to seek justice for victims. I believe that the people of Dakota County expect this and will accept nothing less than objectivity, fairness and equity in carrying out the duties of the office. Anything else is partisanship and visual bias. 

Thank you to your readers for their understanding. 

Matt Little

(campaign site)


Matt will work with law enforcement to detain and charge distributors of dangerous substances, while emphasizing rehabilitation for individual users through the Drug Court system. Addiction is a complex issue that requires help beyond punishment. By working with addiction treatment organizations, people will be better prepared to re-enter life drug and alcohol free, crime free, and spending less time in jail away from their families and loved ones.

Veterans are often asked to navigate infuriating bureaucracy that strips them of the respect they deserve, made worse if a veteran is struggling with addiction, mental illness, or other issues. A Veteran’s Court could provide specialized staff, qualified professionals, alternative sentencing, and judges with a deep understanding of veterans and their concerns. Matt will establish a Veterans Court to work with veterans in crisis, which can hold them accountable for their actions while providing the context and resources needed to help them return to life as healthy, productive citizens.

Matt is motivated to work for common sense gun safety measures, and the majority of Americans across political parties agree. Matt’s priorities for Dakota County include enforcing straw person purchaser laws, pressing state and federal legislators to pass background checks and red flag laws, banning assault weapons, raising the age of purchase to 21, and enforcing a mandatory waiting period. Matt’s ready to build on his previous work of authoring bipartisan gun bills that make communities safer while respecting those who responsibly own firearms.

Vote on November 8

The general election is on Tuesday, November 8. Learn more about where and how to vote. You can also vote early with an absentee ballot, either by mail or by stopping at the Dakota County offices.

See our 2022 voter’s guide for more on the candidates and other races.

Thank you to the candidates for taking the time to respond to our questions.

This local election coverage only happens thanks to the support of our members. Consider joining West St. Paul Reader to ensure local election coverage continues. Membership starts at just $3 per month.

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